Parvati Shallow » Life Explored

Beginning to meditate

There is quite the buzz around meditation these days. More and more studies are showing that meditation can actually help to make us sharper, calmer, more able to respond to life’s challenges and can help to transform our brains for the better.

After my third experience on Survivor, I was in dire need of a brain fix. Playing Heroes vs Villains wiped me out. I was physically, mentally and spiritually bankrupt when I returned home after that game. My life had become exponentially more stressful, and I was having a hard time staying balanced and happy.

For a long time, I avoided committing to a meditation practice because I was already doing yoga, and I thought that was enough. But, after returning from Survivor the last time, I realized I needed to do something more. I needed help to regain my strength, my mental clarity and my connection to love. So I started meditating.

Beginning to meditate can seem daunting. Our minds are really wild, crazy animals that need to be trained and directed. How do we harness something that seems to have all the power??

Focusing on the breath is a great way to dip your toe into starting to meditate. Our breath can give a rhythm to pay attention to as we sit in meditation and start to calm our minds and relax our bodies.

This breath practice, called alternate nostril breathing, is a beautiful meditation for beginners. Give it a shot and see how you feel. Then try making the commitment to do this meditation every day for the next 10 days.

Watch yourself grow stronger and more able to handle stress as this becomes a regular part of your life.

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Jo - Thanks, Lady! I recently lost a friend’s daughter to a violent suicide, and it’s definitely thrown a mental challenge my way, not to mention my friend! The grieving process is not easy, and while it’s phases can resemble that of what has been publicized as what is to be expected; it doesn’t always work out that way.
I truly appreciate your recent post to fb challenging women to try to train our minds to think differently through the process of meditation. Thank you for being a strong and inspiring woman, Parvati!

Howard k - 10 days to try it okay cool but for how long each day, 5, 10, 20?

Parvati - Do it for the full 11 minutes. You can keep using the video or do it on your own.

Parvati - I’m so sorry for your loss. That must be extremely difficult. I hope this meditation can help you breathe through it.

Free your mind and the rest will follow

When I moved to Georgia after having grown up in an ashram, my whole life was turned upside down. My life at the ashram was characterized by running around with a group of little white kids barefoot in the woods, eating a vegetarian diet, participating in chanting and spiritual ceremonies on some nights and living in a large, supportive community. When we moved to Georgia I was nine years old. We found an apartment in the inner city, and I started a new school.
ashram kids

Here, I was introduced to an entirely different world. As one of the only white girls in my school, I quickly made friends with kids of all races. These kids had soul, and they taught me all about R&B and hip hop music. The music of Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Whitney Houston, Boys to Men and En Vogue spoke directly to my inner self.

The powerful women of En Vogue drew me in, and I must have listened to their hit “Free Your Mind” about 9 million times.

Now, that I study and teach yoga, hearing that song makes me smile. It brings me back to a time of innocence where the voice of my soul spoke loudly to me, and I listened.

Over time, I’ve realized that the creation of your life comes down to how you direct your mind. The thoughts that you feed with your attention will grow stronger. Notice how you are fueling your thoughts. Are you limiting your life by giving yourself reasons why you cannot do something, you’re not good enough, not qualified enough? Or are you freeing yourself by letting go of those limiting thoughts when they arise, knowing that there is a way through every block.

In order to free your mind, shift your focus onto the things in life that bring you joy and deep satisfaction. Don’t worry about or judge what other people are doing. We can never truly know what is driving another’s behavior. Just focus on you.

For me, the study of yoga as a lifestyle gives me tools to bring my mind back from the brink of darkness and helps me to come home to my center when I get caught up in limiting beliefs. Life will show you whatever you believe.

If you want to free your mind, watch your thoughts– and enjoy this video!

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Lauren - I agree that there are a lot of benefits to mindfulness and positive thinking, but I’ve been thinking about these movements have been criticized for not having enough depth and only working for people with relatively “easy” lives. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this? I really like the idea that “the creation of your life comes down to how you direct your mind” and “there is a way through every block”, but what about when people face systemic issues that they feel powerless against (e.g. being discriminated against for their ethnicity, age, gender, etc). From what I’ve read, many people facing these difficulties feel like, although it is beneficial not to dwell in negativity, positive thinking isn’t enough and doesn’t make the changes they really need. What is your advice to people in those situations?

Allison - Love this song and love it when you write about how you’ve overcome difficult experiences.

Parvati - Great question. I love how deeply you are thinking about this idea. I agree, positive thinking can be powerful, and in certain circumstances it is not enough. That’s why we have a great responsibility to help others that do not have the means to help themselves. It starts with the individual, and as we grow stronger and more capable individually, we are more able to help others.

Parvati - Thanks for your comment Allison.

Building grit to get you through

If you have a dream or a goal and you want to make that a reality, you must have the discipline and the grit to stick with it through good times and bad.

So many of us start a project, a diet, an exercise program, a practice of non-judgement or some other daily spiritual practice, and it’s fun in the beginning. But, at some point we lose interest and the motivation we once had starts to fade. We find ourselves getting distracted by other things, and our original goal gets pushed aside. We slip up and slide back down.

This can be demoralizing, and sometimes it’s enough to make us give up on that dream altogether. We use excuses and justify our actions, but deep down inside, we feel bad about ourselves. Why can’t we just see it through? Why do we always go back?

Well, here’s what I say. Stop beating yourself up! It doesn’t matter why you chose to eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s last night, or why you stopped journaling last week. What matters is that you DO NOT give up on yourself. You certainly have what it takes, and by building your focus, self-discipline and grit, you will find it easier to get through the sticky parts and stay on course.

You may have heard of a popular TedTalk delivered by teacher and speaker Angela Duckworth. In it, she explains that grit, or the capacity to passionately stick with goals for the long run is the number one predictor in success for her students.

Grit works, people. It’s what you rely on when every other part of you wants to give up.

Kundalini master Yogi Bhajan says, “Keep up, and you will be kept up.”

When things get hard, you get stronger. Your brain changes and grows in response to challenge. Challenge yourself. Build your power and grit with this strong kundalini yoga kriya.

Leave a comment, and let me know how it went for you. And, if you like the video, be sure to subscribe for more.

Sat Nam my friends.

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