Anti-negativity muffins

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling a bit low and struggling to combat negative thoughts. Needing to raise my spirits before teaching yin yoga at Bound Lotus in the evening, I decided to bake a batch of muffins.

Baking generally distracts me from whatever’s swirling around my brain, but I needed a little something extra to clear those negative thoughts. Cue the Gobinday Mukunday mantra, perfect for overcoming negativity. With SatKirin Kaur Khalsa chanting in the background I stirred my way to more positive thoughts and a dozen muffins.

Listening to meditative music while baking, cooking, or doing dishes is wonderful. I can’t help but start chanting along and it turns into a quasi-meditation as my mind starts to clear.

Combining baking and quasi-meditation was perfect! The muffins are yummy, my negativity cleared, and I had a really lovely time teaching 🙂

Here’s the recipe for my anti-negativity (aka applesauce pecan) muffins.

Applesauce pecan muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a 12 cup muffin tin
    • Prepare muffin tin by lining with paper wrappers, inserting silicon muffin cups, or greasing with vegetable oil.
  • Stir together dry ingredients.
  • Combine applesauce, almond milk, maple syrup, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
  • Stir wet ingredients and pecans into dry ingredients until just mixed.
  • Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes; muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool on wire racks.

Meditating on authenticity

Today marks day 40 (the last day!) of the second meditation challenge of 2012 at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre. While I didn’t partake in the meditation challenge this time around, I did get to lead the Friday evening sessions.

Leading meditation sessions was a unique opportunity for me as all the Bound Lotus meditation challenges use Kundalini meditations (which tend to be quite active and can be pretty complex) and I’m not a trained Kundalini yoga teacher.

The meditation was focused on the second chakra and involved chanting the mantra “Har hare haree – Wahe guru” for 11 minutes while holding guyan mudra and performing arm gestures. It celebrates the creative spirit and a loose translation of the mantra is “Hallelujah for the creativity of the universe!” Guyan mudra is the hand gesture of wisdom and the arm gestures are meant to gather creative energy into the second chakra (roughly at the level of the tailbone).

I was a little nervous before leading my first meditation a few weeks ago – luckily a few friends were willing to let me use them as guinea pigs beforehand! After leading a practice meditation session with friends, I knew I could do it for real at Bound Lotus.

The five Friday evening meditations I led went well, but I didn’t feel quite settled for them. While students assured me that I was doing fine and seemed quite comfortable, something felt awkward to me.

Maybe it was wearing the full whites of a Kundalini teacher but not being trained in that tradition; maybe it was not partaking in the whole 40 days of meditation; maybe it was just too far out of my comfort zone. Wherever the disconnect was, I wasn’t confident leading the meditations.

The contrast between how I feel teaching yoga classes (awesome! empowering! satisfied!) and the unease I experienced for each meditation session underscored my unsuitability for leading Kundalini meditations.

I was asked to continue leading the Friday evening sessions for the next meditation challenge, but felt too inauthentic doing the second chakra ones to carry on with the third chakra cycle. I feel like a great version of myself when I teach yoga classes or do a Kundalini practice, but I felt like a fraudulent version of myself while leading the meditation sessions.

I’m happy to have led Kundalini meditations and I’m grateful for the experience (particularly the students’ support!) but I’m also happy to discover how much I value teaching with authenticity and confidence. Mostly, I’m happy to be able to say ‘no’ to situations where I don’t feel like a great version of myself.

Healing from the heart

I have a couple friends whose mothers are going in for surgery today… and I’m thinking of them.

Loved ones with health problems are one of the many circumstances where we feel powerless to have any kind of impact. We can worry all we want but deep down we “know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum,” to quote Baz Luhrmann in Everybody’s Free.

I’ve started using meditation to channel my energies towards whoever is having health issues and away from my own fretting. I like doing the Kundalini healing meditation, which uses the Ramadasa mantra and an easy mudra (hand or body position).

The mantra is Ra ma da sa; Sa say so hung and all you do is repeat it. There are lots of recordings to chant along with, my favourite is by Snatam Kaur, and I usually chant for 11 or 31 minutes.

To come into the mudra, sit cross-legged (or in easy pose) and bend your elbows into your body; let your forearms fall open over your thighs, with your inner arms facing up. Your palms are flat and facing upwards with your fingers together and thumbs stretched outwards. The mudra is a gesture of receiving.

KundaliniYoga.org has full instructions if you want more details, including an illustration of the position.

I did Ramadasa as a 31 minute meditation with my dad when he was in atrial fibrillation (a-fib), which is persistently elevated heart rate. He had been in a-fib for a few days and medication was not helping his heart convert to its normal rhythm.

I was thrilled that he was open to meditating together, although immeditately after we were done his heart rate was even higher. While I was on my way home from my parents’ place a couple hours later, though, dad called to let me know that his heart had converted back to a normal rhythm and the a-fib had passed.

I’m hesitant to say that the meditation is the reason my dad’s heart reverted to its normal rhythm, but I don’t think it hurt! And at least it made me feel like I was doing something and let dad know that I love him.

So today I’ll send the love and energy from my Ramasada meditation to my friends and their moms… letting them know that I love them ♥

Silence through boredom

The hand gesture of wisdomThe second 40-Day Meditation Challenge of 2012 at Bound Lotus started earlier this week and Sofie and I joined the meditation this morning. The first 40-Day Meditation focused on the first chakra (or energy centre); the second one fittingly concentrates on the second chakra.

The mantra (or meditative phrase) we’re using for this Meditation Challenge is the Kundalini seed mantra: Har hare haree; Wahe guru (pronounced: Har haray haree; Wha-hay guroo – with kind of a silent “d” after the har). We’re repeating the mantra for 11 minutes – chanting along to the version by Gurudass from Longing to Belong. This meditation also involves holding guyan mudra (the hand gesture for wisdom – shown in the photo at right) and moving our arms. It’s a trifecta of techniques for meditative concentration; chanting the mantra, holding the mudra, and repeating the arm movements.

I find manta meditations very effective at clearing my brain and finding internal silence. Chanting the same sounds over and over again pretty much bores my brain to death and stops me from thinking. The Sanskrit syllables don’t connect with any meaning like English words might and my mind starts to let go of everything but the mantra.

Adding in holding a mudra and repeating arm movements, further drives out any thoughts and helps bring my mind to stillness.

I’ve compiled a list of other musical mantras I like for meditation, which are great to chant along with or have playing during meditation. I also like having mantras playing while I do other tasks like food prep or dishes; I often find myself chanting along and finding a bit of stillness as I cook!

Mission Accomplished!

After 40 days of the Sat Kriya meditationAlthough, in the tradition of Dubya, it’s really only half done smile emoticon I finished the 40-Day Meditation Challenge this morning, but have one last evening of abstaining from alcohol to go.

This morning’s meditation at Bound Lotus felt so positive and uplifting; there was a wonderful energy in the space. I know that the last iteration of sat kriya this evening will be even better and I hope that everyone else who did this meditation challenge feels amazing – whether they meditated for four days or 40.

By day 40, I no longer found 11 minutes of sat kriya physically demanding (other than a twinge in my left shoulder when lowering my arms), but the mental challenge was certainly still present. I know clearing my mind will likely remain easier said than done, but practice will keep making it better.

With the end in sight, this last week was a struggle. It felt great meditating in a group on Monday after going solo for the weekend, but by Wednesday, I was ready to be done. Like really done.

Thankfully, my willpower kicked in and I made it to the studio for the remaining meditations. And today I came home from my 40th day of meditation, ate a healthy breakfast, cleaned the house, did my physio exercises, and got on the indoor cycling trainer afterwards! No signs of my willpower being exhausted!

Updated meditation music

Some new favourite songs for meditation. Click on the iTunes button to purchase a specific song.

  • Gobinday Mukunday by Sada Sat Kaur Gobinday Mukanday - Mantra Masala
    A quicker, more energizing version of the ”Git ‘er done” mantra. Good for reviving the spirit and enhancing energy.
  • Mul Mantra by Snatam Kaur Mul Mantra - Anand Bliss
    The February Full Moon Meditation at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre was the mul mantra. I think this is the most beautiful version of it – very heart-centred and grounding.
  • Ong Namo – I Bow by Gurunam Singh Ong Namo - I Bow - The Journey Home
    Also called the Adi Mantra, chanting Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo starts off every Kundalini yoga class. It’s a reminder to honour (or bow to) all the teachers that came before and the wisdom that lives within.
  • Pavan Guru – Lord of the Wind by Gurunam Singh Pavan Guru - Lord of the Wind - The Journey Home
    The “May the Force be with You” mantra, Pavan Guru increases energy and stimulates healing.

See the Meditate page for a full list of meditation music I like.

Full moon listening

Laura holding half moon poseThe beautiful Mul Mantra meditation last night at Bound Lotus in honour of the full moon inspired me to update the song lists on the meditate and listen pages. I’ve added a few new favourites and created a list of music I like to use for savasana.

The full moon can be a time of increased energy and mental activity. It’s also just an amazing time to be out at night – particularly with the current clear weather we’re having!

I’m subbing the 8:15pm Yin Yoga class this evening at Bound Lotus. Come join me for a delightful full moon class and, of course, a beautiful relaxation in savasana afterwards!