Certainty is a relic, an atavism, a husk we ought to have outgrown.Read More
Just a few days ago, I met with a mentor of mine, a woman who has known me since my first adult steps back in college. As I laid out a multitude of questions and choices flitting about me, she astutely inquired whether I’d checked in with my body in considering it all. Her suggestion was a simple one, yet resonated so profoundly within me. I’d become stuck in the chaos of my mind, thoughts darting...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.
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. Catch her class Sunday and Wednesday mornings at Steps on Broadway.
“If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.
If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live.
If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye."
-Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road
In this passage from Gloria Steinem’s new memoir, Steinem describes bits of wisdom received in India from a group of Ghandians, members of a land reform movement inspired by Ghandi. Their wisdom: listen, learn, and see. While this advice was, for Steinem’s purposes, in regards to the organizing work that would become her career and legacy, this advice is also pertinent to everyday life. How often do we preach before we listen, or give advice before we fully understand the situation we’re advising on? How often do we demand attention, or expect an audience, before we do the work of earning that attention, and also paying attention in return?
When our lives move so quickly, and opinion pieces are written faster than the events earning those opinions can unfold, it seems required of us to formulate our own opinions and voice them immediately. But in this eagerness to describe the world in is and isn’t, in rights and wrongs that are easy to pinpoint, perhaps we are neglecting to honor the uniqueness of each situation and of each human being, with their singular circumstances and individualized history. We learn this in our yoga practices—no two bodies are the same, and often a choice that’s right for the person to our right is not what’s best for us. Yoga requires us to continuously evaluate our bodies and our minds—where is my body today? What does it need? Where is my headspace, and how does this knowledge inform my practice today?
So, how can we carry this practice of self-study off our mats and employ it with those around us, whether they be family, friends, coworkers, or strangers? Can we catch ourselves in those moments when we make snap judgements, and instead remind ourselves to ask questions and reevaluate the circumstances of a given scenario? In what ways can we make time to listen, not lecture; learn, not dismiss; and see, not simply demand to be seen?
Are there times you find yourself wanting to speak before you’ve heard? How do you incorporate the tools of svadhyaya—self-study—into your interactions with others?
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.
“[L]earning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.” -David Foster Wallace
Today’s mantra comes from one of my favorite literary icons, David Foster Wallace. This quote is an excerpt from the wise yet humble commencement speech he delivered in 2005 at Kenyon College, in which he warns students of the “dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines” that they will endure as post-graduate adults. He confesses to students that there are times when being an adult sucks—when finishing a long day of work means heading out into rush hour traffic to enter a crowded grocery store to wait in a long line at the register to head back out into traffic to start a long and frustrating journey home. Sounds like an inspiring commencement speech, right? But indeed, it is.
Wallace reminds the graduating class that we have a choice in how we decide to evaluate a situation. We can look at the events of a long and frustrating day as personal assaults on our general happiness and well-being—or, we can look at these events as opportunities to be compassionate towards those around us. “[T]hat Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him,” says Wallace, “and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am.” We don’t always have to consider scenarios so extreme, but Wallace makes an important point; it is up to us to decide if the world is out to get us, or if instead, the world has a lot more pressing things to be worrying about. We can choose to view fellow drivers as enemies, or we can view them as fellow humans who deserve compassion and understanding.
John Milton, in his famous epic Paradise Lost, wrote that the mind “is its own place, and can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” Our work as yogis, and as humans, is to consciously choose how we’re going to evaluate a situation. What will we decide to emphasize, and what will we decide to conclude? How will we let this experience affect us? Is this moment entirely negative, or is there knowledge to be gained? As Wallace says, this sort of work requires us to be awake. To pay attention not just to the inner monologues buzzing inside of our heads, but also to the sensory experiences that are happening around us. This is what it means to live mindfully—to pay attention to what is around us, to who is around us, and to then decide how we will allow this information to shape our focus.
Back in a meditation workshop during my yoga teacher training, Ethan Nichtern directed myself and my classmates to focus on the breath, but to be aware of the sounds around us. In this way, we were making a conscious decision to pay attention to one specific facet of the moment, but without shutting out or falling asleep to the rest of the world. This, I believe, ties into what Wallace was saying. To live a mindful and compassionate life, we must be awake to both our inner and outer worlds. We must be aware of the circumstances around us, but we must also be aware of the ways that we are internally digesting our experiences. More than being aware of our thoughts, we must also be able to direct our thoughts—it is up to us alone to decide whether the world is our friend or our foe.
What will we decide?