Most of these summer days, the sky tips our faces upward and it feels good to remember just how small we stand amongst all this wonder.Read More
Acts of meditation take many forms—creative, written, movement, quiet breathing, dream journeying, visualizations, compassionate acts, and thoughts. As someone who has been cultivating meditation practices for several years now, I strongly advocate fluency and fluidity in allowing your meditation practices to shift as they need to. While it is important in our present-day world of distracted behaviors to refine your meditation techniques and maintain a certain dedication to their presence and stillness in your daily life, it is also crucial to listen to cues that require you to practice differently.
For a few years, writing was my primary outlet, and in the last year or so, painting and journeying have become more prevalent in my daily practices. Writing is not forgotten at all but refocused at this time into other outlets. Instead of questioning the shift, I wish to share expressions of my brush as well as the pen while they are flowing through me.
Personally, painting or drawing meditation time is a time when I feel completely free. I do not worry about product or technique or subject matter. I treat the act of composing on paper or canvas as an extension of my journeys, dreams, emotions, and energy. I paint and move from my body and gut rather than directly from my head. Sometimes what comes out surprises me! It could be an image from a visualization I had months ago or a visceral reaction to today’s news. What is clear is that the body is processing, and I am enjoying the release. Time passes, space opens up, and I feel grounded.
We decided to begin a visual series of my selected loose-and-quick painting/drawing meditations on our Instagram. We will also feature some of these mediations here on MindBodyBrew to continue my regular contributions to the blog. Sometimes the visual will connect with a quote or a story or a nugget of wisdom, and sometimes the images will speak for themselves. We hope you enjoy this new multimedia approach to our beloved blog! –TaraMarie Perri
Blue and Green
Summer is blue and green. Look around you: water and sky, trees and distant mountains, grassy fields and rivers. The cool, bright hues of summer blues and greens will soon give way to the warmer hues of fall. Dip your toes in a river or the ocean, or take a nap in the tall soft grass under a huge green tree. Appreciate nature's wise support to cool off your summer fires, allowing you space to breathe outdoors before fall's work begins.
Painting meditation by TaraMarie Perri. To follow the full series, follow us on Instagram: @perriinstitute.
MindBodyBrew is ultimately about providing a space for written reflection at every step along the yoga path. We hope that by sharing assignments from our Teacher Trainees, we can expand their deep investigation into community-wide dialogue. The following is a piece written by one of our newest, current trainees, Nicholas Jon, about recent yoga classes with TaraMarie Perri and Maggie Gavin.
In classes with both TaraMarie and Maggie over the past couple of weeks, there has been a heavy emphasis on concepts related to the transition from summer to fall, and how this impacts the body, the mind, and the spirit. These ideas really resonated with me, as my life over the past couple of months has felt like one long transition: not only in terms of seasons, but also from college to the “real world,” from a set schedule to an open-ended one, and from being a practicing yogi to being a yoga teacher-in-training. It has taken me a few years to finally feel adjusted to living in New York City, but finishing school has forced me to reexamine and shift my mindset in order to adapt to new ways of experiencing the city.
The class theme of leaning into transition periods has supported me through this time and informed my daily life. A specific example that I really connected to was a class structure in which TaraMarie had us practice savasana multiple times throughout class. I have always understood savasana as having one specific purpose: allowing the work of class to set in, and relaxing the body while keeping the mind alert enough to process the physical and mental changes that have occurred. But allowing this experience to occur four or five times during one practice enlightened me to some of its other benefits. Every time I entered savasana, I had a more intense experience. The work in between was challenging, so physical exhaustion caused my body to feel more relaxed every time it was still. But at the same time, my mind became more invigorated and alert each time, with a sharper focus and a clearer ability to scan my body and notice any shifts that had taken place.
This dichotomy was a beautiful reminder of a way to cope with tricky transition periods. Though everyone has different reactions to transitions, I know they tend to overwhelm me. It’s not often that I allow myself ample time to relax and process what I’m going through, let the work I’ve been doing settle in, and get a firm grasp on my state of mind and body before allowing myself to move forward. Rather than forcing myself through transition periods, it’s better to let them happen at their natural pace without focusing on what just happened or what’s about to happen. The transition itself is just as important of an experience, and an inability to exist within it can hinder one’s ability to progress through it.
In The Wisdom of No Escape, Pema Chodron provides brilliant perspective on this subject. Her discussion of impermanence sparks the idea that our lives may actually be just one long transition from birth to death--“once you are born, you immediately start dying”--or maybe a series of extremely short transitions from our in-breath to our out-breath. In this way, the transitions that we often feel overcome by are just part of life’s natural cycle, and should be taken in stride. If we get caught up in overanalyzing these transitions or trying to escape from them, we may never feel like we've gotten to the other side of them. Even when things seem tumultuous and you might not know how to proceed, what’s important is that “you’re able to recognize [when you have met your edge] because you are open enough to see what’s happening.” If you can identify this and be okay with it, it becomes easier to embrace the fleeting nature of life, and see transitions as what they inherently are: temporary.
The following post was written by Liz Montgomery, a dancer/choreographer, writer, and teacher for The Perri Institute for Mind and Body. She currently co-teaches the Grow Your Practice seasonal series with TaraMarie Perri, and is involved with various aspects of the institute’s growth and development. As evidenced by her constant recipe sharing, Liz loves to feed people.
As the temperature climbs higher still, it's tempting to forgo breakfast altogether. Don't do it! The quintessential summertime breakfast, the smoothie, has been around since the 1970s, but has recently seen a surge in both popularity and creativity. Gone are the straightforward banana/strawberry swirls of my childhood. Now, smoothies are expected to have complex flavor and be chock-full of nutrients. Since I am a yogi on the run (and I suspect most of you don't have time to kill in the morning), I've provided two ways below to combine your breakfast with your morning drink-of-choice. That's right, no more juggling multiple mugs on your commute!
Lime Green Smoothie
3/4 cup coconut water or 1/4 cup greek yogurt plus 1/2 cup water
1 handful baby spinach
1 frozen banana
1/4 of an avocado
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon Matcha green tea powder, optional
Maple syrup to taste (sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't)
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Beans and Nuts Smoothie
1/4 cup cold brew coffee or 1 shot espresso
1/2 cup milk of your choice (cow, almond, hemp)
2 Tbs almond butter
1 frozen banana
A dash of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
And here are a few tips to help you become a smoothie pro:
- Pre-freeze your bananas. Anytime you've got a bunch and one starts to go brown, peel it and toss it in a bag in the freezer. I can't tell you how much easier this makes things.
- For the tea drinkers: invest in some matcha! Creamy and mild, matcha is a varietal of green tea processed into a powder. It is known for its ability to simultaneously increase both alertness and calm.
- For the coffee drinkers: cold brew your coffee. With just a bit of foresight, you can be out the door without ever needing to turn on your kettle. I find cold brew to be so much better on my finicky tummy--the acidity can be as much as 65% lower than coffee made with heat! A quick primer: take 3/4 cups of very coarsely ground beans and 4 cups of water and place in a glass container at room temperature overnight (12 hours), then strain with cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate.
- Get creative... but not too creative. It is very easy to end up with too many competing flavors. When in doubt, make a small test batch. Some things you can add that will give your smoothie more oomph and texture while preserving the taste include: chia seeds, hemp hearts, ground flax seed, and rolled oats.
The following piece was written by Brianna Goodman, copy and features editor for MindBodyBrew. Brianna teaches yoga with The Perri Institute for Mind and Body in New York City. She currently attends Fordham University, where she is pursuing a degree in English and Creative Writing, with a minor in Communications.
“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.” -Thomas Aquinas
School's out for the summer, and the city's playgrounds are bustling with children celebrating their freedom. One doesn't have to walk far to hear the sounds of children laughing, singing, and calling excitedly to one another. Mimicking a child's boundless energy might seem tiresome to an over-worked, over-scheduled adult--but are there moments throughout our day when we too can step back from our work, call a friend, grab a game, and relish some time of laughter and play?
Can we also find ways to be playful in our yoga practice? Moments when our practice can become a little less than serious? When we catch ourselves furrowing our eyebrows in a high lunge, or holding our breath in a tricky arm balance, can we take a deep breath, laugh quietly to ourselves, and find a greater sense of ease in this instance of play?
What playful summer activities do you incorporate into your week? How do you find moments of laughter in your yoga practice?
Photo by BMiz