Mind Body Spirit

My favorite meditation book for women. And a meditation exercise to get you out of your head!

Review of Meditation Secrets for Women: Discovering your Passion, Pleasure, and Inner Peace

by Camille Maurine & Lorin Roche, Ph.D.

Playful and sensual - not words that you'd typically associate with meditation! But Camille Maurine and Lorin Roche, Ph.D. opened my eyes to different, more sensory and flexible ways to meditate and enjoy it. Meditation Secrets for Women is full of accessible meditations and practical ideas about how to incorporate meditation and a meditative state of mind into your daily life. 

Both women and men can benefit from this book (don't let the title limit you!). Women are designed somewhat differently from men and will likely appreciate learning about meditation from a perspective written for women that openly acknowledges and adapts to the way women tend to "be" in the world. Also, men may find this approach refreshing, as both men and women may feel that their inner feminine self is stifled by meditation driven by the masculine model. When we think of meditation, we tend to think of celibate monks who shut out sensory pleasure and "human" enjoyment of life (part of the masculine model). Meditating under this model has some limitations, and may feel impractical and/or restrictive to both genders. 

Meditation at it's best is about being open to all experiences - to all emotions, sensations, thoughts - and taking an observant, curious, nonjudgmental approach with yourself. Meditation Secrets for Women is structured in a way that guides you through this process and facilitates presence with self in a loving way. It encourages you to use all of your experience - including distraction - in the meditative process. 


The Sanctuary of Your Personal Space

meditation for women chicago

One of my favorite meditations from this book is "The Sanctuary of Your Personal Space." I appreciate how it gets the meditator out of her head and into her body by focusing on different movements with the hands. It's a great way to engage the sense of movement and befriend your personal space or aura.

In preparation for this practice, set aside about 10 minutes of your time. You can do this meditation while seated in a chair or on the ground. Be sure to give yourself some space to extend your arms fully and stretch out a bit. 

After this practice, you may want to set aside some time to journal or reflect on what the practice was like for you. 

  • What did you notice?
  • Did any unexpected emotions or sensations arise?
  • Were you able to be with yourself compassionately? Did any judgments arise?
  • How do you take sanctuary in or protect your personal space on a regular basis?

How does exercise fit with your values? The first step to committing to fitness.

exercise andersonville chicago

HOW DOES EXERCISE FIT WITH YOUR VALUES?

If you are striving to make exercise and fitness a part of your lifestyle, you will certainly want to read this post about values and exercise! Connecting to your values and how they are intertwined with your fitness routine or goals will make it much easier to stick with fitness and all that fitness means in your life.  

WHAT ARE VALUES?

Values are directions that you want to go in life. They are unique to the person, so your values are likely a bit or maybe a lot different from my values or from your loved ones' values. As humans, we can easily get on autopilot and fail to take the time to ask ourselves "am I living a valued life?" And by that I mean a life consistent with your values! We often feel the most at peace with ourselves and with our lives when we are living according to our values. 

Values - both identification of your values and living out your values - guide the type of psychotherapy I do which is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It's all about helping you get on the path that you want to be on and working with you to perhaps learn new skills and ways of approaching the "stuff" that gets in the way of being or staying on that path. That "stuff" could be unwanted and distressing thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and/or destructive behaviors. Staying connected to your values helps you to feel empowered and motivated. And that includes feeling empowered and motivated for fitness!

WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES?

It's not always easy, though, to determine what your values are. And they likely change a bit over time as you also evolve and grow. It can be difficult to identify your personal values from the values that you have been told over time that you "should" have. A note on that: it's also important to separate values from morals. Values are chosen life directions and morals are more like codes or principles that come from outside of you (think other people, society, religion).

So, what are some of your values that connect with exercise and fitness? If you would like specific worksheets to use that can facilitate your values discovery, you can visit my previous blog post on values.

Let me give you some examples about how exercise might fit with values. Perhaps you engage in a regular exercise routine because you value self-care. You know that your relationship with yourself is important and when you don’t attend to it, your relationships with others suffer. Perhaps you exercise as a way to be healthier longer in your body and live longer. This could be motivated by a value around family (perhaps you want to be able to be present and active with grandchildren). Or perhaps you value exercise as a way to facilitate a healthy sex life with your partner whom you care a lot about. There are no “right” or “wrong” values that motivate exercise; the key is that you are connected to what brings you fulfillment!

Women's fertility. It's not just about biology.

Trying to get pregnant can be quite a stressful endeavor. Perhaps just thinking about the "ticking biological clock" raises your anxiety. Or maybe you've actively been taking steps to conceive and finding that the harder you try, the more distressed you feel and the more difficult it is to conceive. Due to advances in society, medicine, and culture, women are waiting longer to start growing their families. In many ways, waiting to start a family can be empowering and beneficial for a woman. However, society has also evolved faster than biology. There are real limitations on women's reproductive capacity that occur over time. But it may not be as black and white as you think... 

Mind, Body, Spirit. Yes, it's all connected.

Have you ever experienced pain or an illness that just wasn't going away with physical medical care? There are many scenarios I can think of here. Perhaps you have chronic migraines and your prescription medication just isn't working. Maybe you live a busy life and tend to get colds or the flu easily and are unsure why.