May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I can’t help but ask myself the following questions. What exactly does fitness and health mean? Is it running a marathon? Is it bench pressing two hundred pounds? Is it having the right BMI? Is it having a good blood reading? Notice that these are all physical measurements of how we think of fitness. In a culture that is body obsessed, where health care focuses on limited measurements of what it means to be healthy, where is the focus on mental health and mental fitness?
Brain health and fitness is paramount to overall health, and yet it continues to be marginalized, and a relatively taboo topic. As we learn to become more in tune with ourselves (this is a learned awareness), we start to understand that the mind and the body are incredibly interwoven, and connected. Often when the body has pain, or inflammation, the origins begin with a stress response, or to a psychological event that impacted our physical body.
The current science is teaching us that pain management and a lot of our physical illnesses can be reduced through regular meditation practices. Mindfulness Meditation has been shown to reduce chronic pain by 57% and the better you get at meditation the higher that number rises. Meditation also has a similar impact on fighting depression by releasing serotonin to depression resistant levels.
At Take Five Meditation we understand how important physical and mental health are and how connected they are. We also know that it’s not a one month a year thing, it is year round, day in and day out. That’s why we are here for you throughout the year, to provide you with a place to cultivate your brain fitness, and your mind body connection. We all get one body and one brain and these are our temples, to cherish, nourish and love. See you on the cushions. ❤
With Tremendous Love and Affection from My Brain to Yours,
Tara

What if you had a super power? An innate ability to move life giving energy in such a way that it makes you stronger, makes you smarter, regulates your emotions, all while filling you up with the electricity of life. Well you do have it, we all do. It’s called breath.

Breath is this incredible life force that works for us endlessly and we don’t even have to think about it, or do we? What happens when we do focus on our breath rather than taking it for granted? Amazing things, that’s what. Focused breath work, has so many benefits and that is why it is such a reliable meditation tool.

During these middle spring days of sneezes and wheezes and miserable breathing, breath work can make a big difference in how our bodies handle the pollen count. Deep nostril breathing can help clear our sinuses and calm down some of the inflammation we experience as our immune systems respond to our city’s trees that seem to be endlessly trying to reproduce.

Alternate nostril breathing (my favorite) not only loosens up stuff and helps clear the sinuses, it also has the known effect of uplifting us emotionally. A full cycle of alternate nostril breathing, and I feel like a brand new person.

Take Five Meditation is a celebration of the breath. Every class reminds us that we all have this incredible super power, that we can always rely on to calm us down, to open up our sinuses, to bring us inward to a place of reflection and joy.

Nothing makes us happier than seeing you transform yourself with breath with each practice.

With Big, Loving, Deep Inhales and Twice as Long and Loving Exhales,

Tara

Katie is now the Studio’s Lead Front Desk and Sales Manager.

Katie has been with Take Five Meditation for over a year now and has been doing a super job working the front desk. Her involvement in the studio has grown and grown over this past year and it shows in so many ways that you may not have known or noticed. Changes have ranged for the look, feel and content of our retail, our tea lounge and more. As well as changes in the flow and method of our sign up and sign-in process. A lot of what she does is also behind the scenes and goes virtually unnoticed.

You may not notice all the things that Katie does for the studio and our community but know that many of the things our community enjoys are directly impacted by her attitude, dedication and initiative.

Thank you and congratulations Katie!!

Have you ever found yourself feeling very de-motivated to get off of the couch to go to the gym, but then once you dragged yourself there you were amazed by how great it made you feel? The demotivating factor in situations like that, is the transitioning to the gym, and not the gym itself. The transition from couch to gym is a journey of change and as small as that might seem, even those small changes can feel daunting. There are so many micro instances in life when you are so fully entrenched in a habit or a comfort zone, that the very transition out of it seems overwhelming. This could lead to a lot of opting out and missing out.
Anxiety around transitions often start in childhood, and is something that many of us carry into adulthood. Oftentimes, it is the messiness of transitioning that stops us and we may not even realize it. As abstract as all of this might seem, understanding how you relate to transitions can make a big difference in your approach to life. It helps answer the underlying questions which are, what is holding me back? How can I make that big change in my life? Why is it so hard for me to get there?
At Take Five Meditation we know that a regular meditation practice opens you up to introspection and a better understanding of how you relate to the world around you. We also understand that the transition that you make from your busy workday to your cushion is as impressive as it is beneficial. It is our greatest hope that your regular meditation practice helps you understand your relationship to transitioning and helps you to take the edge off of it, so that you can get to the gym, or go out there and make that big life change.
From start to finish we look forward to all of your transitions big and small from beginning to end.
With Unchanging Love,
Tara

It can be hard to put ourselves into another’s shoes. When there is conflict and disagreement it becomes even more challenging. If you tend to be stubborn (like me), then forget about it, it can take a while before you are ready to find middle ground with another person.

We are currently living in times when divisiveness abounds. It can feel difficult to find middle ground and harmony. What makes this such an interesting quandary, is the fact that we all have our own point of view, and for better or worse, it comes from our own personal experiences. Our world view is unique to our personal experience, and that is why it is so important to remember that everyone has an experience that we have no knowledge of that shapes them, and if we put our judgments aside, and keep an open mind, we might be able to move past conflict and into harmony and understanding.

At Take Five Meditation, we understand how important conflict resolution is on the job, at home and even in our social lives. We know that coming from a place of loving kindness and compassion, can enable us to be accepting of another’s viewpoint, even if it is quite different from our own.

A regular Mindfulness practice can be very helpful when dealing with conflict resolution. It gives you time to pause, still your mind, and gives you a moment to take stock of your emotions in a given situation. Simple steps such as these can actually help you to open your mind and heart to someone else and their perspective. Finding middle ground in conflict can be very rewarding for everyone involved.

Even if you are stubborn (like me), there is a tremendous benefit to using meditation as a tool to create harmony in your life and relationships. When everyone’s point of view gets viewed, there typically ends up being enough understanding and kindness for everyone, and that’s the best kind of resolution. So bring it on over to the cushions and work it out at Take Five.

With Stubborn Loving Kindness,

Tara

Read more about how meditation can help with conflict resolution. 

As we have evolved into these strangely urban creatures who rely more and more on indoor stimulus we easily forget that we are creatures of nature. Nature is something that makes me super happy. I love and adore the natural world so much, and I want to share my love for it with you. Our connection with all things green, or the moon, and the oceans are profound and so good for our health and well being.

Many of us, in our modernity have distanced ourselves from our natural environment and a lot of people feel uncomfortable in the outdoors, itchy, and vulnerable. In our discomfort we stay inside, blast our cooling and heating systems and hide ourselves from nature. This kind of cloistering can lead to anxiety and depression. As humans, we need sun exposure and time in nature to be truly happy and healthy, and sadly, somewhere along the industrialized line, too many of us have lost our connection with that. Science tells us that people who live in heavily treed places are happier and healthier. When people do not get time out in nature, there are more cases of asthma and allergies due to lack of exposure, rather than exposure.

The good news for us Washingtonians is that we live in a garden city. There are so many parks and so much green space that all of us have plenty of opportunity to get out there and do some tree bathing this Spring and yes gulp…even this summer when it feels like 200 degrees. On the next really hot day, go out and find the biggest and leafiest tree you can find and simply sit underneath it and see what happens. Who needs air conditioning when our trees are so happy to provide us with cooling, shade and happiness?

At Take Five Meditation nothing brings us more joy than your well being, and we hope that you use your mindfulness practice to enjoy the gentle kindness that nature gives to us. We hope you go out there and find that tree who becomes your best friend this Spring, and if you do, share it with our community, by taking a picture and sending it to us. We’ll post it in our newsletter. : )

In honor of tree bathing and Spring, please join us for One Giant Meditation (OGM) on April 14th.

See you on the cushions.

Sending out Big Love from the Treetops,

Tara

For more on Tree Bathing and it’s benefits, click here.

One of the best things about Washington DC is it’s people. Not only are we a collective IQ of well over a trillion, we are a people who wake up every morning wanting to make the world a better place be it near or far. Whether you work for the government, or an NGO or the private sector, or you are a school teacher, chances are if you are a Washingtonian, you care.

That’s right, you care about politics, your care about the state of the world, you care about the homeless, you care about animals, you care about the environment and the list goes on and on. All of that caring leads to a tremendous amount of world travel, long hours on the job, big projects and even bigger worries. That’s because when you are a person who cares, it’s really hard to turn it off. This endless source of caring and compassion is so profoundly beautiful and it results in a whole lot of very good work being done, but often it comes at the expense of one’s well-being. It leads to what is known as Compassion Fatigue, a term that really means you have cared so much about saving the world, you have burned yourself out.

Our team over here at Take Five completely understands this because we all care a lot too. A big part of Metta Meditation cultivates compassion for others and the world, but we also understand that we cannot be our best for others, without taking care of and replenishing ourselves too. That’s why we offer so many classes that are replenishing, and that make you feel brand shiny and new. It is important to us that we provide you with a meditation practice that helps you to grow your resilience so that you can go out there and continue to do the good work. We are proud of you Take Five Community and it is our pleasure to help you booster your resilience with each practice.

It matters to us that our community is so full of heart. We look forward to seeing you actively self-caring on the cushions.

With Loving Kindness, and Compassion,

Tara

Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to let go of old stuff? There are just certain things in life that don’t want us to let go. These can be physical objects that clutter our homes, and they can also be emotional obstacles that have decided to park themselves in our minds and not leave. They become a part of our inner and outer landscapes for better or worse.  

Have you ever noticed how good it feels when you finally take the time to de-clutter your living space? Getting rid of old stuff that you thought you needed, only to find out that removing it from your personal space feels incredibly uplifting and liberating?

Our inner-world, our minds, work in very much the same way. Out of habit we can get stuck in mental clutter that likes to show up over and over and again, blocking us from moving around comfortably and preventing us from bringing in newness and change. Just like a good home cleaning can make us feel so light and happy, when we take the time to clear (not empty) our minds, to de-clutter our brain space, we create an openness that is liberating, giving us the sense that anything is possible and that we don’t have to be stuck.

At Take Five Meditation we take great joy in offering you opportunities to create a meditation practice that can help you create more internal space, so that you can bring a sense of fresh newness into your life.

Our Release. Reset. Replenish class on Monday evenings at 5:15pm with Guide Sihnuu, is the perfect place to explore and expand on this. We also thought Monday is the perfect day of the week to find yourself de-cluttering and approaching your week as a new beginning.

We look forward to seeing you on the cushions every Monday, expanding your mind in all new directions.

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. : )