“There is so much to feel with each breath if only we would take time and allow ourselves to.”

Whisper the word “meditation.” What image do you create? Is it a full pink colored lotus flower or a cross legged yogi? Perhaps the image of a strong snow-capped mountain or crashing ocean waves come to mind. Meditation could be represented by all these things or by none of them. It is often though presented as a spiritual practice. But really, I find it about being attentive to the ebb and flow of breathing, to the dynamics of silence and sound. And, the only thing that you need to begin your practice is you.

I began my practice as a young girl growing up in San Bernardino, California. Our home was surrounded by a variety of citrus trees. Throughout the year the smell of the blossoms would tickle my nose. My mom would often sit in the shade of the branches, doing what looked like to me—-doing nothing! During my teenage years I began to explore a practice of my own.

Research suggests that developing a meditation practice can preserve our minds as we age. According to a study from UCLA Brain Mapping Center, researchers found that the brain actually begins to decline as early as in our 20’s. Meditation may be an effective way to slow down that process and a way to prevent diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Meditation enhances problem solving. A period of meditation can often lead to a feeling of being refreshed, with a more positive attitude, a general feeling of well-being. You gain a wider perspective on things. There is evidence that calming the body of any tension helps to heal the body of any pain. The key to a regular practice lies in recognizing that you can benefit from it. Be kind to yourself by easing into a practice.

Begin with you. Begin by turning inward instead of focusing outward. Draw attention to your breath, if only for a few moments. The breath is often used as a basic object of meditation because it’s always changing, always flowing. When you focus on the breath you are feeling something. Become aware of the small space between your nostrils. Feel everything about the movement of your in-breath. Feel the coolness. Feel the warmth of your out-breath. Now become aware of the length of your breath. Is there a pause in between the inhale and exhale?

Every breath we take stimulates distinct sensations along the entire pathway of respiration. Try not to judge or manipulate the breath. There is so much to feel with each breath if only we would take time and allow ourselves to. Breath is the essence of life.

That image that you create when you hear the word “meditation” depends on your personal practice and experience. For me, it is allowing myself to be in the moment. I become a neutral observer of myself.

About: Carol Petritz has practiced yoga and meditation most of her life. In addition to teaching yoga, as a school teacher of special education students, she often includes yoga and pranayama in her classroom. Carol’s yoga classes are focused on the breath, as breath is the essence of life.

Carol has studied many different types of meditation including: walking meditation, heart and rhythm, guided visualization, Kundalini (where the breath flows through energy centers), and mindfulness (focusing on being in the present.)

Carol has studied yoga and Ayurveda at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and we are honored that she received her Yoga certification with us at Big Bear Yoga in Big Bear, California. Carol continued her education of healing yoga with additional certification through Healing Yoga Institute with Amy Wheeler in Therapeutic Yoga.

Carol is a nature enthusiast and also volunteers for an animal rescue. Graduating from Rim High School in the early 1970’s she has a connection to the mountain community. She feels honored to be a part of the Refresh family. http://refreshonthemountain.com/