mello{be}

A modern, versatile, more comfortable meditation cushion

Why Now?

Julia Bates

Now to answer the  “why now” question. I hear from people everyday how stressed they are, how stressed their children are and so on. We live in a world that is so different from any world any other humans lived in, in the history of man. We have access to most anything we want in a moment, food, clean water, shelter, and knowledge. Yet, we feel so lost and alone. The news blasts doom and gloom 24/7. But in reality this is the safest time to live in history. There is a very good chance you won’t be in danger today.            

So why are we so stressed?  The answer is evolutionary biology. Our nervous systems are wired to keep us alive. We are alive because our ancestors developed strong attention to signals that something could harm us. So we continue this hypervigilance even though we don’t really have to. Negativity bias is one of the reasons we feel stress at the level we do. If you want to stay alive you need to be critical of all situations. You need to  believe first that something will go wrong or that something about this situation is not quite right. People who dive head first into things without investigation, risk poisonous plants or a predator lurking around a corner. People who don’t conform to the norms of society risk being alienated from the group, cast out of the the protective clan.

So without these issues front and center in our lives anymore we concoct them. We find fault in ourselves and others, being hypercritical over small things. Looking for things to go wrong because negativity bias has such a strong pull in our minds. We spend a lot of time overestimating threats and underestimating our safety and resources.

With this understanding we can in mindfulness become aware of our negativity bias, usually done through self judgement. We can observe how it feels in our body. Then, we can, with the knowledge we are receiving during this time of stillness and reflection, make a choice whether to follow that path of thinking and belief that this is our reality.

Mindfulness is really about how we spend our lives. We are too often lost in thought, worry, anxiety, self criticism or making up various scenarios to ensure against a disaster outcome of a situation, etc. While our minds are wandering we aren’t living this life that is in front of us right now. This moment right here is the only moment you can really live your life, smell, feel emotions, taste, see. Mindfulness teaches us to “just be with whatever” in the present moment and do it with less judgement, more compassion and empathy. We can train our brain to bring attention to the present moment by paying attention to the breath and the body, without criticism. Meditation is a way to do this. Meditation is a way to just slow down, pay attention without trying to make anything happen. Spend time in observing, bring curiosity, find wisdom by learning what is happening in your body and mind when is isn’t distracted by “life”

Next post will start the journey of "how do I do this?" It's easier than you think and at the same time, so complex that you can take a lifetime of bringing curiosity to this moment.

Introduction to Mindfulness

Julia Bates

Introduction to Mindfulness

My name is Julia Bates and I would like to help give some insights into living mindfully. So you may be wondering why me and why now.

First, let me tell you why me. I found a book on yoga and meditation when I was 17 ( many many years ago). I read it and followed it the best I could. This is pre-internet age and there was no meditation community in my little town of Bangor, Maine. After I moved to San Antonio, I still couldn’t find anyone who practiced meditation the way I understood it worked best for me. There are a lot of ways to practice meditation. I didn’t feel like chanting in another language as well as other practices I found not authentic to me. Although many people do find it relevant to their experience, so you do you. For 30 years I had a sporadic silent practice that I didn’t talk about. Mostly about 10 -15 minutes of paying attention to my breath going in and out by myself. I found it really helped me stay calm when things around me seemed out of control. The more stressful my life was, the more time I spent in this silent practice. When life was busy and easy, I didn’t practice at all.

This routine worked for me until my daughter became very ill. The internet was now a thing, so I went in search of how to help me and her.  She has an autonomic nervous system disorder. Meditation affects the autonomic nervous system, quieting the sympathetic nervous system. It seemed like a good idea to teach her how to have some control over some of her symptoms. I took some online classes, ordered and read books. I practiced using guided meditations, not in silence like was used to. I found I loved a type of meditation that guides you with compassion and common sense. This is how I view Mindfulness as a practice.

Mindfulness is quite simple, pay attention to your breath and as your attention wanders from the breath once you notice it just bring your attention back. Easy, right! Well yes and no, as you may have figured out in life the most simplistic of practices are usually very complicated. But not so complicated as to keep you from getting a lot out of it. Just complicated enough to know you will grow with this practice and never get bored.

Over the next few posts we’ll cover the basics and then get into it a little deeper.




5 reasons to sit on the floor or a meditation cushion.

Julia Bates

Humans are meant to sit on the ground! Our evolved anatomy is for sitting, not lounging. While chairs and couches are comfy, they disrupt our natural posture. Let’s start with 5 of the many reasons to return to the practice of sitting on the floor! Plus, learn how meditation cushions like melloBe make this a lot easier :)

Reason #1 - Chairs are bad for you!

 

Regular, all-day use of chairs is a relatively new practice for humans. For most of our existence, we’ve sat on the ground. Now, the 40-60 hour work-week puts us in chairs for most of our waking hours. We slouch and slump and fall into couches! This practice weakens our cores, leading to pain in the lower/upper back, shoulders, and neck. We now slouch both when we sit and when we stand, perpetuating the weakening of muscles in the torso that contribute to chronic pain. But meditation cushions are good for you, because they do return us to a more natural position!

Reason #2 - Improve your posture!

Sitting on the floor naturally engages your core and back, strengthening your muscles. While uncomfortable at first, this will over time build your stamina and improve your posture. You’ll find yourself standing taller, slouching less, and experiencing less pain. People will definitely notice your new posture. Side note: it's a lot easier to build this posture when you feel comfortable, so try focusing on your posture while sitting on a meditation cushion.

Reason #3 - Build strength and flexibility!

Sitting on the floor also engages your abdominal muscles and hip joints, which can greatly improve your flexibility. It’s like getting a small workout each time you sit down! Enjoy a tighter core, looser hips, and a stronger back just from your daily dose of sitting. Ever notice that people who practice yoga also often meditate and vice versa? Try a meditation cushion, even if you're not using it for meditation, to build your flexibility!

Reason #4 - Improve your longevity!

Being able to get up and down from the floor without using you hands has been shown to correlate with longevity. If you can do this, you most likely have strong and flexible legs, a healthy core, and good balance. As you age, you’ll avoid falls and strains, which are common reasons for hospitalization and decreased quality of life. Of course sitting on the floor alone won’t make you live longer, but it’s a simple test to check your strength and flexibility and an easy adjustment to make to improve your health.

Reason #5 - Connect your mind and body!

Because sitting on the floor engages your muscles, it also brings awareness to your mind and body. This position automatically sets the nervous system to a calm, self-aware mode. There’s a reason most meditators sit on the floor or on meditation cushions! This position even puts you closer to children, animals, and nature :) Your best bet is to actually spend some time practicing mindfulness using a meditation cushion. But sitting on the floor or cushion, regardless, is a great step!

Please remember!

Sitting on the floor may take some getting used to! You are using new muscles, so if you find it difficult, give yourself time! Begin by sitting on a meditation cushion for a few minutes at a time, and gradually increase as your strength and flexibility grow. You’ll eventually find that sitting on the floor (especially with a meditation cushion) with your chest our and shoulders back is naturally a more comfortable position.

If you want an extra boost to your comfort and posture, check out a melloBe meditation cushion! Designed to straighten your back, open your hips, and relax your knees, they’ll do wonders for your floor-sitting journey! 

melloBe is live!

Julia BatesComment

Announcing our new website and online store!

This post marks the start of a new chapter - the launch of melloBe.co! We are thrilled to share our meditation cushions, and thought you might like hearing our story.

melloBe began seven years ago, when my daughter, Corey, became chronically ill. As a mother and nurse, I wanted to give her the best care possible. An important piece of that meant helping her manage the stress of her illness, and mindfulness was a natural solution.

I have had an on-and-off relationship with mindfulness for the past 40 years. I’ve used mindfulness meditation to manage stress, help my patients, and slow life down. Given this new immediate need, my “on-and-off” relationship turned fully on. I took online classes, read books about mindfulness, watched YouTube videos, and practiced mindfulness daily. I began working with my daughter to help her manage her illness.

Little by little, Corey plugged into this whole ‘mindfulness thing’ her mom was pushing. But she struggled to sit on traditional meditation cushions, and discomfort interrupted her practice. To ease our pain, I created my own meditation cushion. Designed to make meditation comfortable and enjoyable, it also ended up improving our balance, leg and core strength. 

Corey enjoyed the cushion so much that she developed a regular mindfulness meditation practice! Her physical and mental health improved, and over time she recovered. Today, she is a happy college junior living in her own apartment! Her regular mindfulness practice helps her to regulate her mind and body in the midst of chronic illness.

As Corey recovered, we quickly learned that the cushion could be used for a lot more than meditation. We began using it for yoga, board games, by the pool, and on. It became an amazingly versatile furniture piece in our home!

Fast forward nearly a year, and I found myself accidentally at a Startup Weekend competition, thinking it was a presentation workshop! On a whim, and with lots of encouragement, I ended up pitching my meditation cushions to the group. The melloBe cushion was chosen as one of the weekend’s startups, and ended up winning crowd favorite!

That weekend confirmed in me that my meditation cushion could help a lot more people than just my daughter and me. I found beautiful fabrics, began producing and selling cushions, incorporated melloBe Co, and launched this site!

My mission is to create connection through mindfulness. The cushion, my mindfulness meditation practice, all of it...it’s about connection. Connecting with yourself, connecting with the people around you, and connecting with nature.

I am excited to share with you the melloBe cushion, and sincerely hope it brings you the same comfort, mindfulness and connection it has brought my daughter and myself. We love hearing from you, so please reach out to info@mellobe.co and tell us what you think.

 

Sincerely,

Julia Bates | Founder & CEO