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Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

Meditation – A Beginner How-To Guide

One of the biggest trends out there right now is meditation and mindfulness!

These words get thrown around like confetti, and you may wonder what the big deal is. Perhaps you want to try meditation but don’t know where to start!

“Did I do the laundry?” “Are those papers filled out at work?” “I wonder what he’s doing right

now…”

These thoughts are totally normal and happen to everyone!

A common misconception about meditation is that it must be free of thought and done in silence, in a so-called comfortable seated position.

For many people, the seated position just isn’t comfortable-and I speak from experience! When I

first started meditating my back would throb as I forced myself to sit with proper posture and

attempt to quiet my mind.

I always left my meditation sessions feeling frustrated, like a failure, and nowhere near calmer!

So, what changed? My perspective. As a yoga teacher, meditation and mindfulness coach, I have learned and tried many ways of meditating!

What I have learned is that it is a different process for every single person. You may need to do a workout before being able to meditate as you have a lot of energy moving in your body. You may need to lie down comfortably and have silence, only listening to the sound of your breathing. You may even need to listen to a repetitive mantra and sit in a chair…

The HOW TO of meditation is really HOW TO relax your body, mind and soul-and this all depends on what works best for YOU.

Thoughts are going to come through the mind because humans are designed to think!

A thoughtless mind is not a human mind…therefore, when in meditation, one practices the witnessing of thoughts. This means that you allow the thoughts to come in, witness them, and release them with no attachment.

For instance, “I can’t believe I forgot to bring that container today” could be looked at with nonjudgement, a smile and an invitation to bring the focus back on your breath.

The goal of meditation is to pause the stream of thought and continually bring awareness back to the present moment. Focusing on the breath or a sound can help you come back to the moment of NOW.

There are many other meditation techniques and tricks that you can learn by participating in yoga classes, exercise regiments and even dancing! The mindfulness that you bring to any focused activity is the same mindfulness that you bring to your meditation!

Here’s an exercise you can try today for your own simple 5 minute meditation

Body Scan Meditation

Sit, lie down, stand, curl up, whatever feels best!

Begin to focus on your breath and notice the inhale and exhale flowing through the body. As you focus on your breath, start to notice your feet, beginning with each toe. Then travel up the leg, noticing how that feels, and continuing up through your stomach, back, arms, hands…and finally coming to your chest and head, making sure to relax all your neck and facial muscles as you breathe.

Allowing yourself the space to notice any thoughts that come through and simply watch them continue on, focusing back on your body and the parts that you are bringing awareness to.

Don’t feel bad if you fall asleep…that means you did something right!

 

What is a boutique hotel?

I’m currently looking for hotels in New York and I saw this term “boutique hotel” listed. To me, a boutique is a small, independent shop often found in a quaint neighbourhood that sell handmade items you can’t find anywhere else.

A boutique hotel is similar in a fashion. It is not operated by a large chain or brand. Instead, it is independently owned that provides individualized and custom service. Most have less than 100 rooms, meaning the experience can be quite intimate. At the same time, boutique hotels usually have a lot of character. The building may have a theme that seeps into every room.

Don’t be fooled though. This doesn’t mean the hotel is tacky. Most boutique hotels are actually quite luxurious. Because they are smaller than the typical hotel, it means more care is taken in the decor. Designer furnishings and unique pieces of art are common in each room. The best part is that, unlike your typical hotel, no two rooms are alike. Some rooms may have a quirky sense of humour while others may have a warm and cozy ambiance.

Because of the size of boutique hotels, owners are usually able to find prime locations to build upon.. This can result in some truly breathtaking views.

Each room will also have some luxury, hand-made and unique items available for use, like organic soaps, bath pillows, or even a linen selection. Prepare to enjoy some locally-grown foods as well as some art by local artisans.

There are also a few different kinds of boutique hotels. Historic or country boutiques, for example, offer accommodations with rustic charm — think stone walls, big fireplaces, detailed wood carvings, and homemade comfort food.  These buildings often have some sort of historic significance and rooms are designed to feel homey, yet still rich in culture and comfort.

Urban boutique hotels are often found in a city’s centre and caters too younger travelers looking for a tech-savvy and comfortable place to stay. They are generally located in neighbourhoods with lots of culture and nightlife. The rooms themselves use Smart technology and there are common areas for people to mingle.

Then there are the luxury boutiques. The rooms in this accommodation use high-quality materials and exclusive designer furnishings. They may have infinity pools, skylights, or even spa services available. Luxury boutiques pride themselves on personalizing your vacation experience, and ensuring you have the most fine wining and dining available.

Check out these boutique hotels in Toronto: Thompson Hotel, Le Germain, or The Drake (Nook room featured in photo above).

Luxury boutique hotel Barcelona Duquesa de Cardon
Boutique Hotel Bali

Embracing the quiet of November

Winter is cold and formidable, with seemingly endless dark days mixed with the dread of venturing out into the windy snow-blown streets. On the other hand, it is also a time of quiet thought, where the snow creates a peace that summer has never known. Saying that, my favourite month of the year is November. The ushering in of winter is also a silent reminder to take space and revere in silence is a blessing in disguise, something we all tend to forget in the warmer months.

As the longer nights settle in to stay and the clock turns back for the winter ahead, I’ve always felt a change of pace in November. People seem to push each other less on the subway and there is something absolutely adorable about everyone donning their winter layers and looking strikingly penguin-like.  I believe with our inherent connection to Mother Nature and the earth we live in, most of us experience a sort of metaphysical pause when the fall fades into winter. Whether it be drinking a slow coffee at the shop instead of rushing out the door with an iced latte or writing in a journal by the fireside, the elements force us to consider how vital it is to slow down and relax every once in awhile.

Even the land reflects a more relaxing setting for breathing deeply and sleeping in that extra five minutes. The leaves fall from the trees and orange, red, and yellow fade from the landscape only to be replaced with a snowy landscape and a beautiful grey and purple sky. If you luxury of a skyline view of downtown every day at work, you can see the mauves and blues of this sky hinting at winter, and reflecting against the buildings. The November city skyline glitters with silver and purple, and temporarily I can forgive the sun for not showing her illustrious golden hues.

Instead of fearing the emerging winter cold, pull your scarf close and take a deep breath of the fresh air. After you do that, grab a coffee and walk down the street while wearing fuzzy red mitts from Hudson’s Bay. Listen, and what do you hear? Nothing but the sleeping sounds of a city retreating for a moment to relieve itself from the hustling and bustling of spring, summer and fall.

This is also the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed, the memories you made this summer and the love you felt. It is also a time to nurse your heart from being broken if it had been, and forgive yourself for your mistakes. In these moments, you can also dream about your future. What will the next year bring? Who will you meet? Where will you be at this time next year? Before the Christmas craziness takes over and the winter hustle and bustle begins, drink in the meditations of sweet November.

Embrace the quiet of winter for a moment. You won’t regret it.