Skillful Means Podcast

Skillful Means Podcast

Spiritual nourishment for yoga practitioners and teachers.

Episodes

September 15, 2023 15 mins

Jen wraps up her partial series on the Brahma Viharas with Mudita, commonly translated as "sympathetic joy." With Mudita, we're asked to rejoice in the good fortune of others, admittedly not easy.

This is why Jen likes to think of Mudita as "delight," specifically delighting in joy itself whether it's originating from someone else or from within. But, when we are able to delight in other'...

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Have you ever caught yourself (or been caught by someone else) with your head buried in your smartphone while doing something mundane like brushing your teeth or walking through your home?

If so, you can probably relate to the lure of distraction when certain moments don't seem worth our full attention. 

In this contemplation, Annie invites us to view these small, ordinary moments during the day as portals to mindfulne...

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August 18, 2023 15 mins

Continuing her mini-series on the Brahma Viharas, the Four Immeasurables, Jen shares the Tibetan practice of Tonglen. This training in compassion is an inner alchemy where the practitioner seeks to transmute the suffering of others.

Tonglen teaches us how to grow our hearts beyond the boundaries of those in our in-crowd. It invites us to embrace our common humanity as an extension of our own being.

This particul...

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August 4, 2023 12 mins

It’s counterintuitive but essentially true: all phenomena itself is neutral, including people and events, and they have equal capacity to provoke suffering or ease alike – it all depends on how we meet the moment.

As we continues our series of practice this summer, Annie offers a contemplation on how we might work with discernment in shaping a skillful state of mind when facing difficult circumstances.

The meditat...

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July 21, 2023 23 mins

Some of the most treasured and widely-practiced Buddhist Teachings are the Brahma Viharas (The Four Immeasurables). They also appear in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras as one of the many practices that settle mind.

Sometimes referred to as "The Four Faces of Love," these teachings help us to foreground love in all our encounters... with ourselves, loved ones, community members, and even people that we don't pa...

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July 7, 2023 12 mins

The old Zen proverb that says “before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water” is a gentle reminder that chasing the ecstatic will ultimately let us down. Instead, if we can stay close to the ordinary matters of each moment, we may be much better positioned to experience luminous presence.

In this practice, Annie discusses the true meaning of mindfulness, and invites you to use your immedia...

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In the last of our series on the less common practices of the First Foundation of Mindfulness (Mindfulness of the Body), Jen shares a practice of contemplating the four elements of the body: earth, water, fire, and air. 

Because everything in the manifest world contains these elements, this practice helps us to embody interconnectedness. We're also encouraged to soften our sense of exceptionalism. We are, after all, just this. ...

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June 9, 2023 48 mins

Could you imagine a yoga class without postures?  In fact, millions of dedicated yoga practitioners don't practice asana at all. 

In this episode, Annie and Jen discuss ways to engage with the teachings separate from asana, drawing on guidance from the "Bhagavad Gita" and their own experiences.

"Bhagavad Gita" quote mentioned in the episode:
Chapter 2 Verse 42-43
"There are ignorant p...

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In the First Foundation of Mindfulness, the Buddha shared several practices that were intended to help practitioners release their attachments to the body. Whether we are concerned about it's size and shape, the body's age, specific parts... we're encouraged to experience the body as it simple is: comprised of hard and soft tissues... organs... parts.

In this month's guided practice, Jen shares a varia...

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We are thrilled to welcome Sarah Powers, author and co-founder of the Insight Yoga Institute, onto the show to talk about embodying the qualities of love and compassion. This is the "finale" episode our series on the 12 Embodiments of Yoga.

Sarah was the perfect guest for this topic as compassion is such a central theme in her teachings. Throughout the sweeping conversation, Sarah helps trace the line between pr...

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While we may train up mindfulness in formal settings, our true aim is to become present and aware all the time. So, at some point, we must take the practice off the cushion or mat and point it towards the everyday things that we usually take for granted.... washing our hands, preparing a meal, folding laundry.

In this guided practice, Jen guides you to mindfully eat an orange. Even if you don't particularly like oran...

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April 17, 2023 39 mins

In their continuing exploration of Annie's 12 Embodiments of Yoga, in this episode, Annie and Jen discuss the nuances of Kindness and Generosity.

While this may seem like a breezy topic, these qualities (and their corresponding actions) ask of us a certain amount of magnanimity that has to be cultivated and applied intentionally.  Jen & Annie look at how to do that and how their own orientation has changed over t...

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Jen continues her series on Mindfulness of the Body variations with an exploration of standing, one of the four traditional meditation postures.

Standing practice can be a respite for many who find sitting for long stretches uncomfortable. And standing can quickly become uncomfortable itself, which his why it is a potent posture to practice with.

But mostly, this is one of Jen's favorite meditation postures...

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March 17, 2023 39 mins

We're back from an unplanned hiatus with our continuing series on Annie's Twelve Embodiments of Yoga. This month, Jen and Annie are chatting about the role of wonder and whimsy in practice. Jen is a little skeptical, especially with whimsy, having generally approached her practice as a serious endeavor. Listen in to see if Annie can bring her around.

Mentioned on the Show:
"Yoga and the Quest for the Tr...

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Jen's back with a series new series of guided practices exploring different ways of working with the body to establish mindful awareness. Pulled from teachings in the Buddha's Four Foundations of Mindfulness, our hope is that cultivating mindfulness through the body will help you to find grounded stability and continuity in your connection to the present moment. 

In this first of five practices, you'll explo...

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February 3, 2023 13 mins

Unlike all other biological organisms who have built-in mechanisms to maintain homeostasis, human minds are at the mercy of themselves. They gallivant around, unchecked, until we choose to rein our own thoughts in.

In this guided practice, Annie offers a method for helping those galloping thoughts to gently return to a centered place in the body that can orient the mind around gentle peace.   

Meditation starts a...

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January 19, 2023 29 mins

Continuing with our exploration of Annie's 12 Embodiments of yoga, Jen and Annie chat about sacrifice and spaciousness. With Jen feeling like sacrifice is a loaded term, they spend some time unpacking what is really expected of us when it comes to spiritual growth. In particular, they explore how sacrifice is a necessary natural process and creates the conditions for the spaciousness that promotes the ease and wellbeing we wan...

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In this guided practice, Annie shares inspiration from recent scientific breakthroughs in nuclear fusion.

She suggests that we can turn simple inward focus into bright, shining energetic presence to generate our own little sunbursts of kindness, patience, and compassion.

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Skillful Means Podcast offers these guided practices to help you deepen into your yoga and mindfulness journey.

We welcome y...

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November 23, 2022 13 mins

In this meditation, Annie guides you through a practice of making space for others, especially those who share different philosophical or political beliefs or who we find emotionally activating. Instead of trying to find common ground, Annie offers the option of rooting yourself in the present moment while inviting spacious, peaceful presence to guide you.

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Skillful Means Podcast offers these guided practices to...

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November 7, 2022 37 mins

Continuing our exploration of embodied qualities of Yoga, Jen & Annie discuss the nuances of Courage and how it's a necessary ingredient for our Practice.

They also share how they're getting ready for the Winter season. 

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Reach out to us on  Facebook and Instagram. We also welcome your messages at feedback@skillfulmeanspodcast.com or in our voicemail box on SpeakPipe.

You can get in tou...

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