For the record I want you all to know that I spent many years doing the morning routine with twin boys.  Yup that’s right, for a long time I had to get two boys up, fed, dressed and ready for the day and get myself ready to be somewhere, not just anywhere, but school and work.

I also had a husband to contend with during those mornings (I still have him). Yes, a husband who traveled a lot for work, and like any Washingtonian worth their salt, every workday he had, was the most important workday of his life….. If you know what I mean……

So in a nutshell this meant that the start of every day could be overwhelming to say the least. I realized this and knowing myself I refused to go there.

So it was worth it to me to get up a little earlier to have some alone time. To quietly prepare my morning beverage of choice, to be alone with my cat and dog, and to look outside and see how it looked.

I knew that if I started my day feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it was going to set the tone for my day.

I made it a point to wake my kids up with love and kisses, and my husband and I made it a point to have at least 10 to 15 minutes together every morning before we started our long and busy days, to check in, sit together and chat for a bit. The time I took to show love, and companionship, to be alone, and just to start my day off right was worth it. It created a ritual, and it set the tone for many days over many years.

Of course the routine is different for everyone, but the point is, that you can set the tone of your day by how you wake up and this can become a ritual that sustains many good days for many good years. Busy days are inevitable, but how you approach them can make all the difference in the world. Self-care fits into life in so many ways, and your morning routine can play a big role in it.

At Take Five, we love being a part of your self-care routine and helping you figure out just how best to set the tone. That’s why we are always happy to see you on the cushions and cozying up in the tea lounge.

I grew up with art. My father was an artist, and very often on weekend afternoons our dining room was turned into an artist’s studio for drawing with cray pas, creating masks out of paper mache, or sitting very still while my father did sketches of me (see photo for a portrait of me at age 7 by my father Daniel Zeichner).

Those times with my father were some of the most magical moments of my childhood. His capacity for being so passionate and so focused on the act of creating was a contagious energy to be around.

Even as a young child I understood that the energy of creativity could capture the mind and create a calm and contented focus that lended itself to a deep seeded feeling of well being.

As a teenager he took me to places far and wide to teach me about, and show me some of the greatest works of art in the world. That exposure was so delineating for me. I remember standing in front of a favored painting for an hour or more, taking in each detail, each texture and color and feeling as if time no longer existed.

That innate understanding that art, as something to create or as something to study in a slow and deliberate way, enjoying each sensation, each emotion, each thought, was a gift that my father gave me. And yes, I have grown up to become one of those people who can spend 8 hours straight in a museum and thoroughly enjoy myself.

This is why it was so important to me to have space to show art when we opened Take Five Meditation. I wanted art to be a part of our studio because art is truly a meditation.

We have been so fortunate to be involved in Dupont Circle’s First Friday Art Walk since the first week we opened our doors, featuring local and international artists. I love giving local artists a chance to show their work in a downtown venue. I have also loved seeing our guests enjoy each new presentation.

This September, we will be participating in our second Art All Night featuring “Her Time” a curated photo series by local artist Mona E. Avalos. It is on Saturday, September 29th, and we will be open from 7pm to midnight with art, meditation, street food, and more, and you know I want to see you there.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you get in touch with your creative side on our cushions. : )

This week I was asked to run a meditation for a large company having it’s regional retreat here in DC. The theme of this retreat is Joy and Laughter. Two of my favorite things. This request also coincided with a certain level of personal crabbiness, you know the kind that happens sometimes for no particular reason, despite ourselves.

I am one of those people who typically likes to embrace my crabby moods.

I always believe that allowing myself to be congruent with a thought or feeling leads me to the fast track of liberating myself from it.

I am also one of those people who does not like to operate from a place of crabbiness, though my husband and children might debate this with vigor.

So, where am I going with all this? The answer is, that I am going right to joy.

Joy is not a constant state of being, even when one views life as joyful. Joy is the clouds clearing from a crabby mood, the ability to laugh at oneself and acknowledge who we are in a moment. Joy is the fact that there are others who are there to share it with us. Joy is a group of regional managers who want to be their best selves, for themselves and their co-workers. Joy is the small things in life that give us moments of well-being, something that is so irregular and inconsistent that it’s value only deepens. Joy comes to us when we acknowledge it and let it fill us up. It is something we all carry within us to keep for ourselves and to give to others.

And just like that, my crabby mood is gone and here I am sitting with a big goofy grin on my face. : )

In the spirit of Joy and Laughter, I look forward to seeing each and every one of you on the cushions this week.

Brightest Young Things and Lululemon

What do I need? How stressed out am I? How can I relax? Why can’t I focus? Why can’t I remember things? Why do my anxious thoughts take up so much of my time? Why can’t I sleep? And on and on……

These are questions that many of us are familiar with, often not knowing that the answers lie within. Perhaps we have a sense that slowing down, taking time to breath can help, but taking the time, and making the effort can seem uncertain.

Take Five has some great news for you.

Scientists are studying the physiological impacts that different kinds of meditation have on the brain and neurological functioning, and they are finding out that through different types of meditation practices, we can find resolution for many of our questions.

Recent studies are now suggesting that the benefits of body scanning and relaxation based meditation (think Yoga Nidra, Sound healing, and Savasana) can enhance the regions of the brain that promote deliberate control, whilst Mindfulness meditation practices (think sitting meditation that reflects on the moment) enhance the parts of the brain that promote sensory awareness.

This is not only useful information, but it illustrates how useful a regular meditation practice can be in helping us to resolve many of the questions that love to keep us up at night.

At Take Five we offer a wide variety of meditation styles because we want to cover all bases for you and your unique needs. So go ahead and discard your uncertainty, and join us on the cushions to begin your unique journey into a regular and useful meditation practice.

Have you ever noticed that life can serve you nice hearty portions of negative stress?

This can include all kinds of things like tough family situations, losing someone to death or divorce, or a conflict on the job. All of these lovely little negative and painful situations could easily lead to defeat.

Yeah, we are quite familiar with these kinds of situations and they can truly challenge our resilience and our self-confidence. They can make us question who we are, why we are here, and even our own sanity. 

The beauty of our minds is that we have an inner power, I like to think of it as a superpower, that can help us overcome. This is the power of optimism and positive thinking. I am not talking about being maniacally happy all of the time and living in a state of denial, I am talking about facing the difficulties in life with a deep sense of self and compassion. This can make us stronger and more resilient when we come out on the other side of struggle.

One sure fire way to tap into our own superpowers is through meditation. 

It is a practice where we can reflect on our stressors without drama, with a deep sense of calm, and open-mindedness. It is a power that we all have that can help us grow our resilience and sense of self-worth despite the complications of life.

Our Take Five community is built on the concepts of optimism and positivity, and it is the perfect place to come and hone all of the superpowers you need to stand up to your own stress dragon with self-confidence and resilience.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

You know that feeling when somebody doesn’t like you and you don’t know why, or that sense that no matter what you do, something is simply not going to go your way………it’s just not fun.

We all want to make things work out: relationships, health, projects, school, life, but the reality is that things will not always work out, or be perfect and accommodating. We can even make tough situations more frustrating when we try to fix them and make them better.

There are some moments when taking a break to pause and not act leads us to the path of acceptance and understanding. That sense of letting go is the beginning of the end of suffering.

When we stop fighting with our need to be comfortable and happy, when we lessen our expectations, we are making room for resilience and acceptance, those things can lead us to peace.

And yes, it is a very hard thing to do, it is a practice that builds a deeper understanding of who we are and how we, as humans, operate. 

A regular meditation practice is a tool that can shine a light on our over extended expectations and lead us to a path of acceptance and a place of inner peace. Take Five creates a space and plenty of opportunity to sit down or lay down and wrestle with expectations and the journey towards acceptance.

We look forward to seeing you in the studio in a space without judgments, with open hearts, and compassion.

When I became a young mother of twins, I thought I had to do it all. Nurse, nurture, change diapers, read, sing, love (husband too), cook, clean, comb my hair, work, and all that on zero sleep because let’s face it, twins……..

There was also a bit of a guilt factor about reaching out for help and support, and even worse, paying for help…… I often felt that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for the challenge. Then one day, some brilliant person somewhere, I can’t remember who, perhaps I read it somewhere, said to me, “being a mother is like that safety tutorial when you get on the airplane, put your own oxygen mask on before you put it on your child.” Those words had a profound impact on me like you would not believe.

Then I remembered the old adage which I believe is universally adaptable, “when mom is happy, everyone is happy.” In other words, when we take care of ourselves, not as a luxury but as a disciplined practice, we are not only better to ourselves and our own well-being, we are better to everyone around us, and are better equipped to step up, or step down as necessary.

Taking the time to care for yourself is not a luxury, it is a necessity that takes discipline. Sometimes it means not doing the fun thing and buckling down to get something important done, and sometimes it means disconnecting, saying no and giving yourself time to cultivate your well being. Self-care practices exist in all cultures going way back to earliest human history. Meditation is one of them and has been a big game changer for me.

I hope you join me on the cushion this week.  Your self-care practice means everything to our Take Five Team, and it is our pleasure to be a part of your practice.