Tag Archives: meditation

Top 10 Hobbies

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A lot of people ask me what my FAVORITE hobby has been. I usually answer that piloting a plane was my favorite hobby–and that I’ll be looking to earn my pilot’s license after this year. That’s 100 percent true, but ranking hobbies at all is incredibly difficult, because each one has done an incredible job in helping me to overcome fears, build courage and manage both my mental and physical strength. Additionally–for several of the hobbies, friends joined me–and being able to watch some of them overcome their fears was more often more rewarding than anything else. AND one of my favorite parts of the year outside of the hobbies that I did–was watching a friend complete her own challenge: Tears came to my eyes as Rena completed her 100th Bikram Yoga class in under 100 days. What I can’t drive home any more is that it’s not until we try everything–that we realize just how capable we are of anything. I hope that these posts do nothing more than inspire you.

If I had to answer “the top 10” questions, this is how the activities would play out from 10 to 1 (1 being my absolute favorite):

10. Ziplining 

“At 650 feet in the air going that fast, let me tell you something,  you’re not thinking about falling to your doom–you’re thinking about living. You’re thinking about how free you feel–how amazing of an experience you are having, how you don’t want this 3,200 foot zip to ever end, and how your smile is going to be plastered to your face for the next few days after completing this. No, you aren’t thinking about falling–you aren’t thinking about landing–You are indeed doing nothing but living.”

9. Subway Singing / Dancing

“It’s great to see what makes people really crack a smile.”-Grant Ryan

8. Chess

” The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.

Checkmate.”

7. Pon De Flo

“Halfway through class, I had a hobby breakthrough: As I began giggling to myself while I messed up another dance move (sorry Heather!), I noticed that I didn’t care if people thought I was America’s next best dancer–I didn’t care if people saw me mess up–and I didn’t care if my right foot accidentally went when my left foot was supposed to. Eventually, I felt tears begin to fill my eyes. I wasn’t in pain–and I wasn’t ready to run out of the room screaming. No, instead the tears had developed because a great amount of pride had come over me. I realized in that moment, that the fears and worries that I had carried with me just 11 months prior had now dissipated completely. While it may sound insignificant when written down, it was one of the highest points of my hobby year, because it had meant that the hobby year was coming full circle–revealing bits and pieces about myself and how far I’d come, without me realizing that it would.”

6. Surfing

“As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.”

5. Meditation

I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.”

4. Chalking Happiness

“And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.”

3. Trapeze

In the end, all that matters is having the courage to jump.”

2. Hang Gliding & Skydiving (tie)

“I open my eyes back up, and I take in the world around me. I don’t want to lose this feeling–this feeling that nothing can knock me down, this feeling of being able to hold the entire world in my arms and hug her tight–this feeling that I am flying–this feeling that I am living. “

I’ve learned this year that the more you let yourself “just do” the less you try to stop yourself–the more you go with your heart’s desires–the more your fears subside–and the more fun you have. And life is supposed to be about having fun.”

1. Piloting a Plane

I enjoyed piloting a plane so much that I just had to do it twice…There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.

“No fear. No looking back. No hesitation. I was–and still am–on top of the world.”

“I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.”

Picture 9

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The Hobby Hoarder Ziplines

The Hobby Hoarder Dances her Pants off

The Hobby Hoarder Flies a Plane

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Hobbies While on the Mend

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Recently, I unexpectedly had surgery on my toe, which left me unable to physically run, dance, bike etc. Having to hobby without my foot seemed daunting at first, but then I turned to more calm, relaxing activities—activities that I didn’t need my foot for. Are you nursing an injury? Below, find seven hobbies to try while you’re on the mend!

1. Knitting – If you’ve injured a part of your lower body, cross-stitch a new pair of socks for when you’re back on your feet!

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2. Painting/Drawing/Calligraphy –If your strong hand has been left unharmed, express yourself! All this requires is a canvas, piece of paper, or object that you can physically use paints, crayons, markers, pencils, etc  to create your vision on! And if your strong hand is injured—you could always try painting with your toes! What are you waiting for?

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3. Ceramics/Pottery –Instead of moping and complaining about the cast that’s been molded to your foot or leg, use your hands to mold together your own original piece, pot, or bowl!

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4.  Chess or other Brain Games – While you’re off your feet, stay on your toes by challenging your mind. Take on a friend in a game of chess, keep yourself occupied with a rubrix cube, or hit the Sudoku books! Even better, create your own crossword puzzle and then get your friends to test it out!

5. Ventriloquism and Puppeteering – Ever dreamed of creating the next big Muppet? While your one foot’s elevated in a boot, make use of your unworn socks and make your own puppet—or dummie! Then bring the inanimate object to life, by giving it a voice of it’s own.

5. Musical Instruments — While your arms are out of commission, stomp out a beat with a foot drum!

6. Meditation – While your body takes time to heal, find time to re-connect with your mind and soul.

7. Skip-It! – If your arm is tied up in a sling, hit the pavement with this 90’s gem. “Skip-it; Skip-it; skipping and screaming and a bop-di-bop.”

How to Relax Without Being a Lazy Bum

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After someone told me, recently, that I needed to rest–and to give myself a chance to relax, I laughed. And then I realized she was right–I’ve been on the go a lot. The problem is that when I think of relaxing, I think of the terrifying idea of wasting a day lying on a couch, legs dangling over the end, and a bag of chips within reach.

So I got to thinking what are good hobbies to do when you want to relax–but you don’t want to be a lazy bum? I came up with running, drawing, pottery, and dance. While running and dance may seem TOO active to be relaxing, I’ve learned that you can find ways to really “zen out” while doing even the most exhilarating of hobbies. (Lindsey Lewis over at MindBodyGreen even argues this feeling in the article “Why Meditation is Overrated” as she lists 9 activities you can definitely meditate on.)

I then began to wonder–what are other people doing to relax, but to also stay active both mentally and physically? So I took to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and posed a question:

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The results varied from activities like surfing, which is physical and can remove mental stress (unless of course you are terrified of that ocean like I am), to things I know I need to try– like painting and gardening which give the body a break but still exercises the mind a bit.

Here are some of the responses:

K.M.: “Gardening , it is relaxing and you can see results. Some are immediate but many are gradual little rewards of beauty for steady maintenance and patience. It helps the soul to work with your hands in the earth and with plants. Fresh air , sky and greenery. Also hiking. It’s the nature again, keeps things in life in perspective.”

Robert DeSanti: “I paint/draw pictures of dinosaurs, do tasks in bright colors. I do it cause it’s fun and makes me smile.”

His painting/drawing made me smile too .
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Julia Ember Ricciardi: “Cooking/baking! Because there is always a delicious pay-off in the end!”

Rachel Miller: “Gardening. I love digging in the dirt and being part of the growing process of plants. Plus the added benefits of adding beauty to the outside space and growing your own food.”

Ashley Castle: “Walking through my neighborhood, wine tasting, journaling.”

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 Adam Marland: For me, relaxing can mean a couple things. If I’m drained from a crappy work day or something, the goal is to check out mentally AND physically, and that means comfort food, beer, sweatpants, and movie marathon. If I want to relax physically but be engaged mentally, I just drive somewhere pretty and enjoy; a beach, a scenic overlook, whatever. The drive and getting out is as much the reward as the destination. In contrast, if I need to be engaged physically but not mentally, I find activity therapeutic; basketball if im in the city, but a hike or swimming hole are my favorites.”

Sarah Steeland: “Would have to be surfing for sure” (She even shared one of her awesome doodles to show)!

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R.G.M.: “I love to hike around Turkey Mountain, a local spot with oodles of walking, biking and horse trails … just 3 miles from my house. And my favorite indoor hobby is photo editing. I can play with one pic for hours!”

Grant Ryan: “I have three said hobbies when I want to relax but not be lazy, the first is obvious, running – it might not sound like relaxing but its very zen to me, it clears my mind and eases my stress. No music, no phone, just a pair of sneakers and a road! The second is cooking, I love to create, and i find it artful and soulfully stimulating – it relaxes me in a different way, not so much zen as it is just adult play. Lastly I like to take a glass of red wine, and a new book and let my mind drift to worlds impossible – it might sound lazy, but I find it to be mental excersise and an escape from reality. I can literally go anywhere with the turn of the page. Wine isnt always necessary, but it definaltey relaxes me and it stimulates my creativity for hobby #2.”

Grant Ryan

Bekah Eaton: “Mudding!”

Emelie Samuelson:  “Slacklining, crocheting, or hiking.”

Joe Cicala: “I go to book stores and hang out in the cookbook section. Cooking at home is also relaxing. And at work when I make pasta and when I butcher and cure meat. That’s my zen time. I completely zone out and let my mind wonder.”

Jason Schneider: “I like to play Bass. I learn new songs and feel like I’m being productive/getting better at something, even though I’m just messing around playing music.”

A.M.: “WII Just Dance”

Hannah Brencher: “Is it possible to make gratitude into a hobby? If that be the case then gratitude has been my hobby for a while now. When I want to relax, but not be a lazy bum, I create care packages, and make cards, and just make things for people in my life that matter most to me. I roam the aisles of Target for little gifts or spend the afternoon writing letters “just because.” There is an indescribable feeling that comes from pouring myself onto people I love that never makes me feel lazy but leaves me feeling completely refreshed and relaxed. My hobby is also a remedy.”

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Photo Credit: Tiffany Farley

Celeste Headlee: “I have a strong sense of guilt whenever I sit down to watch “Mad Men” or “Downton Abbey” because I can hear my mother’s voice in my head saying incredulously, “Are you just going to sit there?” So, I have a whole host of hobbies that I can do while I’m seated. One of my favorites is needlepoint and cross stitch and I especially love the complicated variety that take months to complete.”

Tammy Tibbetts: “Reading in Central Park, Yoga for Runners class at Jack Rabbit NYC, and watching Mindy Project with my friend Erin to name a few!”

Maitland Ward Baxter: For sure yoga. Pretzeling myself helps me de-stress. #theflexibleshallnotbebentoutofshape

How about you–What are YOUR favorite hobbies to do when you want to RELAX but don’t want to be a lazy bum?

Here’s one of my drawings from when I want to relax–but I don’t want to be a bum…

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The Hobby Hoarder Sits Still: Meditation

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“You were so still. I couldn’t believe it. My first time, I was allll over the place,” – Meditation Participant.

Why I became this woman’s focus during this time for self-reflection, I am still trying to figure out. But what she should know is that both my feet painfully fell asleep and I couldn’t have moved abruptly even if I wanted to.

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I chose to do meditation this week because on Sunday, April 15, I will be running a half-marathon, and as someone who has often webMD’ed herself into a coma, due to clumsy experiences, I believed that any physical activity outside of walking and running would be a terrible–awful–no good idea. Sitting still is normally not an option for me–my friends in Pennsylvania often tell me that it makes sense that I ended up in NYC, because I never rest. And when I told my mom I was doing something calm, her response was: “Well that’s not like you.”

But after this week, I think that calmness should definitely be added into my life on a more frequent basis–and conquering calmness as well–because it is clearly difficult for me–seeing as my feet fell asleep only minutes after beginning the first meditation. Our guide had even told us that the first thing we need to get right is our seat. Sigh. Fail.  Pins and needles flowed through my toes.

“Stay calm,” I cautioned myself. “You don’t want to ruin the ambience, the stillness of the room. Don’t move an inch.” And so I sat the way I would when I was a child so my parents wouldn’t know I was awake which means I held my breath. My focus was no longer on the beaming light or diamond that our guide was telling us to breathe into. My focus was now on the fact that I couldn’t move. As I maneuvered my feet quietly and carefully, I fell back into the guide’s voice. Calmness returned as I focused on a bright beam of light shooting out of my head and then a tiny diamond directly in front of my closed eyes.

After then being asked to see someone who annoys us–and have compassion for that person–we were told to open our eyes for a brief moment, reflect on what just happened and then go back into meditation.

Soon, the other students and myself were told to envision a mentor of ours, someone we look up to, someone who’s guidance leads us. Someone who’s wisdom motivates us. I instantly chose someone to see–to speak to–to listen to. And not before long I was spreading that guidance to people all around me–imagined people all around me: Telling them to attack whatever life brings them full on. Telling them that making mistakes was okay–that sometimes the things we think we are doing most wrong–are actually being done extremely well. Through meditation, I told the world that we could do whatever we wanted to do–like one big cliche. But it felt great.

I became lost in my mind–my thoughts far, far away from me. Now it was just me–no thoughts, no worries–no moments of necessary clarity. I lost sensations in my body parts and I floated. I disappeared–in the best way possible.

I became the sky, the sun, the moon, and Mother Nature, and I embraced the world. And I held her tight…and I kissed her, and I breathed her in, and felt at peace–if even just for a moment. And then I returned to the chaotic room that was filled with noises of construction outside the window, the aroma of burning candles, and the warm feeling of an accepting place. I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.

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I did my meditation at The Three Jewels in Manhattan, New York, where they have volunteers come in and lead guided meditation from 8am to 9am each weekday, and on 7:00pm on Fridays, Venerable Phuntsok provides guided meditation.  There is no fee associated with the guided meditations, but donations are suggested.

Mats, pillows, and seating is provided, and comfortable clothing is absolutely encouraged.

According to The Three Jewels “Meditation” website, “Meditation sessions are based on several types of Tibetan meditation practice. These forms of meditation above all include Ton Len. Many of these meditations emphasize the importance of giving love and needs and taking others suffering. other meditation practices that are taught include Mahamudra and Heart Sutra meditations, which examine the nature of mind and objects.”

From one newbie meditator to another, it’s pretty amazing. Check it out for yourself:

The Three Jewels
61 4th Ave.
New York, NY
 

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