Take control in 2017: Mindful Meditation

Holiday Restorative Yoga with Pranassage with Shirley Carr-Williams, Cynthia Wilganowski, and Sue Lyddon-Hayes held on Sunday, Dec. 18 at Evolve Yoga and Wellness


Take Control in 2017 with Mindful Meditation Practices

Hollywood, MD - Indeed, it might be said that there are now more problems and greater dangers than ever before. This shows that the cause of happiness and the solution to our problems does not lie in knowledge of material things. Happiness and suffering are states of mind and so their main causes are not to be found outside the mind. If we want to be truly happy and free from suffering, we must learn to control the mind. –Modern Buddhism

On Dec. 18, a group of 25 people decided to take a relaxing break from the holiday frenzy to balance both body and mind at Restorative Yoga and Pranassage workshop offered at Evolve Yoga and Wellness located in California. Yoga poses allow for passive stretching, as well as deep relaxation of the nervous system. Pranassage is a hands-on creative synthesis of yoga and bodywork that produces deep relaxation in the receiver. Yoga combined with Pranassage is an excellent way to balance your mind and body.

The mind is such a wonderful tool if used positively and productively. The same mind that can create is also capable of destruction. Any person can behave in a loving and caring manner one minute but when faced with a perceived threat the person becomes defensive and ‘war-like’. How could that happen? One response is the person was ‘pushed’ to respond in that manner. Another response is the person was not in control of their thoughts, actions, and behaviors –which starts in the mind.

Yoga and Pranassage Instructor Cynthia Wilgannowski said, "Pranassage is a give and take. Not only am involved in helping the person, but I feel as though I am going into a meditative state as well."  This is accomplished with deep breaths and mindful focus. 

Having control over your thoughts is not easy to do, however, it does make a difference in the quality of life a person experiences. Most people have no idea how much their thoughts rule them and not the other way around. A simple fear-based thought, if repeated attention is given to it, will become fact to the individual having the thoughts. Once a thought has become fact in a human brain, the individual will begin to take action accordingly. If a person has calm and serene thoughts that are continually repeated, then they will experience a happier life as a result. It is possible to achieve a state of peace, physical and mental well-being, in spite of life’s stress and circumstances. Through meditation, a person can handle any situation in peace and calm.

The definition of meditation is a mind that is single pointedly focused on a virtuous object and whose function is to make the mind peaceful and calm.

Herve Pierre is a long-time martial artist who attended the Restorative Yoga with Pranassage workshop with an open mind. After the class, Pierre said, "I came in here with a terrible headache, now it is gone and I feel great."

Meditation cultivates our thoughts, like water to a plant. By cultivating a virtuous positive mind, focusing on thoughts – such as love, liberty, patience, and compassion -- we naturally begin to develop a light, happy mind that experiences fewer worries, less mental discomfort, and reduced anxiety. The practitioner will be able to stay happy, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyasto said, "Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible." How can you become more mindful of turbulence in your thoughts? Whenever a person brings awareness to what they are directly experiencing via the senses, or to their state of mind via thoughts, and emotions - that is being mindful. Research is growing daily which proves that when an individual trains their brain to be mindful, this process actually remodels the physical structure of the brain.

How to Meditate: A Simple Meditation Practice

This meditation focuses on the breath. The physical sensation of breathing is always there and can be used as an anchor to the present moment. Throughout the meditation practice, you may find yourself caught up in thoughts, emotions, sensations, stress, sounds—it is alright. Whenever this happens, just simply come back to your focus point again with the next breath.

1. Sit comfortably. Find a quiet spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.

2. Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet flat on the floor.

3. Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there and relax.

4. Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.

5. Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little to let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not mandatory to close your eyes. Simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it. Let everything blur out.

6. Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly or chest.

7. Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering, gently return your attention to the breath.

8. Be kind to your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.

9. When you’re ready. Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Gently lift your gaze, if your eyes are open and breathe. Breathe gently and open your eyes. Be very mindful and notice how your body feels right now. Take notice of all your thoughts, feelings, and emotional state. Take a moment to just be.

Now, enjoy a more peaceful, calm and Happy New Year, no matter what. 

Regardless of your age, shape or flexibility, yoga is a great way to become more mindful in 2017. Evolve Yoga and Wellness is an inter-disciplinary studio that offers diverse styles of yoga and other mind/mind modalities. is located at 23415 Three Notch Road #2004 in California. Go to their website to see the various classes and workshops they currently offer www.evolveyogawellness.com

Contact Shertina Mack at

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