In our culture, we get very caught up in learning new things, with the primary emphasis being on learning with our minds—we read, talk, think, and study to learn things. But in order to learn something completely, we have to include not only the mind, but also the body and heart. To do this, we have to practice. A few words about what we mean by "practice." In the past, I (Katy) equated practicing with disciplining myself in order to be a good person (very congruent with my primary Type One ego). After many years, I am finally coming to understand the deeper meaning of the word discipline, related to being a disciple, or a pupil. I am a student of True Nature. I want to know who I really am, not just these self-images my ego takes itself to be. If I truly want this, then I have to practice. I have to practice being who I am, remembering who I am, not just with my head, but also in my body and heart. It's not a punishment, but a form of devotion to that which is greater than me, that which I love, that which I long to reconnect with.
We offer below some practices that help us to orient our lives around learning to be more present. They support us in a practical way to remember ourselves and be more awake in our daily lives. We hope they will help you do the same. If you would like more support with choosing practices to nourish yourself in this way, you may be interested in Katy's Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching.
Mindfulness Bell Downloads
This is a great way to remind yourself to be more present-take a breath, sense into your body, feel into your heart, and allow your mind to clear.
Daily EnneaThoughtSM Email
This is a free service from The Enneagram Institute that allows you to receive a type-specific reminder to support your Inner Work for every day of the year. You can recall each EnneaThoughtSM throughout the day to help you become more aware of the main features of your personality type and be reminded of helpful wisdom teachings. More information.
No matter how busy you are or how hard it is to sit still physically or emotionally or mentally, having a regular sitting practice is a very important part of being a student of True Nature, of devotion. It is an exploration to get to know yourself better. That's the only goal. So, if you sit for 20 minutes and your body feels uncomfortable or your heart is emoting or your mind flies everywhere, that's OK! Just notice that and you'll know a little more about yourself. And keep coming back to your breath. Over time with this practice, you will begin to feel the support of yourself, the container of your body able to hold you, there to come back to when you feel lost. This is a beautiful thing and will support you in all your other life practices.
A Meditation on the Centers
This can be done in a moment or longer, but it's a great way to re-engage with more of yourself when you feel caught up in something and need a way to come back to yourself.
At any time during the day, take a minute to breathe into your body. Feel into the ground, aliveness, and connectedness of your physical body. What do you notice in your body? What can you sense? Breathing deeply into your body will help you to become aware of more sensation, and bring your attention more into the moment.
Then let the breath move up into your heart. How is your heart right now? How does it feel affected? What sensations or feelings are there? It's all fine. Just notice what's happening and keep breathing, feeling the solidity of your body supporting your heart.
Then let the breath move up into your head. What do you notice? There may be many thoughts swirling around up there—that's OK. Just let them be there without following any of them. Note them and keep breathing, keep sensing into your head. Feel the support of your body, the openness of your heart, and allow your head space to be.
Take a last breath up from the ground, through your feet, legs, belly, up into your heart, and up into your head, sensing into and feeling yourself right now, however you are. And return to whatever you need to do in your day, bringing this sense of self-remembering with you.
This invocation was created by The Enneagram Institute Faculty to help us stay connected through the Enneagram teachings when we were apart. Feel free to practice it, and check out the mudras that go along with it.
I now remember that I am here and present in the moment
I am grounded, alive, and connected in my body
I am open and receptive to the truth and compassion of my heart
I am clear and awake to the stillness of Mind
I bear witness to the presence of the One
Click here for more information on the Enneagram.
One of my favorite ways to get more in touch with myself is collage. It's a great practice because you don't have to be an "artist" to do it, and you can collage with intention to explore something or to just be in the moment with what is up for you. Read more about collaging and see some of my collages here.
I am a Certified Laugher Yoga Leader! Laughter Yoga practice helps you discover and open to more joy, love, gratefulness, ease, energy, health (and more). We come together and laugh intentionally without jokes or comedy, just by playing together. An hour session is free or by donation and includes laughter and breathing exercises, laughter meditation, and guided relaxation. Because of the deep pranayamic breathing exercises, and the intention to come into deeper union with, in particular, the joyful, harmonious parts of ourselves, this form of practice is called Laughter Yoga. It does not include any physical asanas and can be practiced by people of all ages who are willing to be a little bit silly!
I am facilitating the Summit Hill Laughter Club, meeting a couple Wednesdays/month in St. Paul. See the calendar for more details. You can also check out local Laughter Clubs near you and if you’re in Minnesota, this is my wonderful teacher, Jody Ross’s site.
I love to read some poetry every day. It wakes up something in me—joy, delight, inspiration, meaning, understanding, faith—something that I can't plan or create, that just happens.
If you'd like to receive some poetry in your email, you can sign up to be on my Poetry/Prayer List. I send out sporadic email no more than 1-2/week, but usually less. I also offer Poetry Meditation as a Workshop or single session.
Music can be a wonderful way to feel in contact with the Divine. It can remind us of our True Nature, inspire us, ground us, shake us up...whether you listen or sing or play an instrument, let music affect you! If you already listen to music, consider expanding your repertoire and trying something different. If you always listen to rock and roll, try classical; if you always listen to soothing music, mix it up and go for something with a strong beat.
Singing is one of the ways I feel in deeper contact. I compose and perform, and have a few CDs available. You can find out more about my music here. I also lead a form of devotional music called Singing Meditation, which is a participatory group singing practice. You can read more about that here and see my calendar for scheduled events.
Part of the path of self-remembering is to own our bodies. Unfortunately, many spiritual paths tell us to leave our bodies behind, that they aren't holy, that we should be reaching for higher realms. The way I see it is that we wouldn't have been born into bodies if we weren't supposed to be in them! These bodies we live in are the vessels, the channels of the Divine/True Nature/God. What other way does True Nature have to work in this physical realm except through these hands, this body?
Adyashanti, a Zen practitioner says this: "God's eyes are the ones you are looking out of and into." Our bodies are the temples of God! And Marion Woodman calls our bodies, bodysouls. Our souls express through our bodies; our bodies are their outward expression. And the ways we have armored and patterned our bodies relate to the ways we have armored and patterned our souls.
So, I have found it really useful to do practices to help me be more embodied. The meditation practices, including the Enneagram Invocation I suggest above are examples of embodied practice. There are many other practices such as chi gung, walking meditation, yoga, dance...all of which can be done with more or less presence in the body or not. I also offer a Workshop I call Body Prayer.
A Parting Blessing
I learned this metta-prayer (from the Buddhist tradition) from my yoga teacher, and I say it at the end of my meditation practice. Really, we could say it at the end of any conscious practice session:
May the benefits of our practice
penetrate each thing and all people
That we and the world together
might live in justice, harmony, and peace.
For More Information
Please check the calendar,
contact Katy or Dave or
check out Katy's Holistic Life Coaching.