Here, to balance our earlier quotes about what yoga is, are 11 statements about what meditation is. Which ones resonate with you?
by Linda Nansteel Lovell
Have you ever walked a labyrinth as part of a meditation practice? Full-size WALKING LABYRINTHS are popping up all over the Central Maryland area, and smaller FINGER LABYRINTHS are as a close as your next Google search or even a pencil and paper.
With this blog post, we begin a series about labyrinths – their history, their creation and their uses as tools for achieving inner balance and peace. Before we embark on all those topics, however, we need a bit of clarification.
The terms “labyrinth” and “maze” are used interchangeably more often than not. Although their shapes may be similar, their purposes are completely at odds with one another. They embody two different concepts. Make no mistake: they are not interchangeable terms.
To wit: the labyrinth provides the user with a smooth path to a goal so as to free the mind to turn inward. The maze sets up constant obstacles and demands the user make choices at every intersection. In the labyrinth, there is one single way to the center, and the same path is followed back out. In the maze, there is usually a single starting point and a single ending point. However, the user faces a choice of many paths leading to different places, most far removed from the ending point.
The purpose of a labyrinth is to offer the user an opportunity for introspection, to soothe the soul, to provide the mind a place of refuge from the constant barrage of choices the user faces each day. The purpose of a maze is to challenge the user at every turn, to thwart and (pleasingly) frustrate the user with so many blind alleys.
In short, the purpose of a maze is to get the user lost; the purpose of a labyrinth is to allow the user to find him/herself.
Watch this space for a future blog post about the history of labyrinths.
by Linda Nansteel Lovell
Here are 11 “Yoga is…” quotations. Which one resonates the most with you?
by Linda Nansteel Lovell
A Google search on the word “meditation” yields an astonishing 250 million results in a half a second. Who knew…or even suspected? The annotated list of nine sites which follows is not meant to be the best or the most popular of those sites. These are simply sites which have something of interest to offer a beginning meditator, whether it's about the science supporting meditation or guided meditations to use online or anything in between.
Tara Brach is a popular teacher whose website offers a library of guided meditations as well as an interesting set of links in Resources. Look for “Talks for Beginners.” Free, with a button for donations.
Sharon Salzberg is another popular teacher. Behind the About tab: bios of teachers who’ve influenced her, a Glossary, and recommended Resources (including meditation centers around the country). Free, with a button for donations.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is part of the National Institutes of Health. These pages present a good summary of many of the scientific aspects of meditation and its effects on the body and brain.
This New York Times site is both a “how-to” and “why-to” meditate manual, written in a straightforward manner for people who have no experience. It offers a number of meditations to download. Of particular interest: “3 Ways for Children To Try Meditation at Home.”
The popular magazine Psychology Today groups quite a wide range of links into three categories: Meditation Basics, Recent Posts on Meditation, and Meditation Essential Reads.
Yoga Journal magazine has created a “hub” of tips and guided meditations. Favorite sections: “Get Started Guide” and “Meditation Basics.”
Alice G. Walton goes into considerable scientific depth in this Forbes magazine article. The science is fascinating – but the illustrative story of a woman in chronic pain brings it all to life.
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center offers a list of resources and free guided meditations to download.
The Mayo Clinic offers a free, 7-minute guided meditation using a candle flame as focus.
by Linda Nansteel Lovell
I’ll admit it: I’m a novice at yoga and even more of a novice at meditation. Nonetheless, I have become a major proponent of both. Here’s why. Both practices have brought me back to the basics…to things like breathing and stretching and relaxing and enjoying the world around me. After a lengthy career in the world of non-profits and an even longer stint as wife, mother and grandmother, my mind and body were constantly whirling. I never could seem to unplug from the news and the chaos. Mind and body rebelled, in the form of assorted problems. My doctors were unanimous in recommending exercise. Unfortunately, however, I have a life-long habit of injuring myself in the name of good health. (For example, I loved Richard Simmons’ “Sweating to the Oldies,” right up until I developed tennis elbow from “Bus Stop Wendy.” I joined a gym and developed iliac-tibial band syndrome. I used to love to walk, but even special shoes can’t counteract Plantar’s fasciitis enough to allow me that simple pleasure. There’s more, but I’ll spare you.)
I was pretty desperate about four years ago when one of my doctors recommended yoga and gave me two books on meditation. Screwing my courage to the sticking place, as Shakespeare would have it, I called a local studio and embarked on a life-changing course of extra gentle yoga. Within the first month, I was a different person – calmer, more focused, more balanced (literally as well as figuratively), and more flexible. Notice that I didn’t add “sleeping better” to the list. That didn’t happen until I added daily meditation to the mix six months ago. That has made a difference in my energy level, my mood, my ability to cope with stress, as well as my sleep habits. That’s not to say that I still don’t have an occasional bout of insomnia – I do. But instead of lasting for weeks, it now may last a night or two. At my check-up a week ago, my doctor told me point blank to continue whatever I was doing, that it was working. If that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does!
(Ms. Lovell will become a member of the RCM board later this year.)
by Betsy Mayotte
If you have never tried an online meditation experience - or if you have never tried meditating at all - Retreat Center of Maryland (RCM) invites you to join our group on INSIGHT TIMER. There are plenty of meditation apps available online, some better than others. RCM chose to join the INSIGHT TIMER meditation community because the app is easy and fun to use; it has creative incentives to help members keep meditating; and it enables us to share our experience as a new retreat community, even when we are not meditating in the same physical space. INSIGHT TIMER supports silent meditation and it also offers many guided meditations by well-known teachers - some of whom you might already know!
If you are curious and want to check it out, click INSIGHT TIMER, download the app for iPhone or Android, explore all the tools and resources available to meditators, and join our Retreat Center of Maryland group! We have members from throughout the Maryland/DC region and welcome all newcomers. As a member of our online community, you can read posts from other members who share their favorite meditations, inspiring words, and news about upcoming in-person events hosted by Retreat Center of Maryland. We invite all members to post and enrich our online conversation.
We look forward to welcoming you to Retreat Center of Maryland’s online community in INSIGHT TIMER!
by Kathy Donnelly
Aware of all the talented yoga teachers and committed students in the Baltimore/Washington area, a group formed and began to meet monthly with a vision and mission to build Retreat Center of Maryland. We incorporated as a non-profit in 2016, and we received our IRS non-profit status in June 2017.
Our vision includes a sustainable community retreat center, service-based learning, and a deep commitment to yogic principles in harmony with the environment. We will create a welcoming place to offer workshops and retreats that are local and affordable.
To date, we have offered the following retreats and workshops in Maryland:
Upcoming workshops for 2018 include:
Please keep checking our EVENTS page as we add details, registration links, and more events.