• JoAnn Lamolino

My Truths of Meditating for 45 days straight

Happy Snow Day All! That's right, I am not in Honolulu as I write this. Although it did snow quite a bit on the top of Mauna Kea over on the Big Island. I have been sheltering in place on the East Coast since March, when my husband and I decide it would be better and more fun to be together during this time. At that point it seemed we'd be only doing this for a few weeks. It's now been almost 11 months and well, here we are.

My time in the spring and summer saw a large surge in creating trumpet related videos, curating Education Livestreams for the Hawaii Symphony Musicians page, an online course for trumpet and wellness and starting my own trumpet Instagram and Youtube accounts. This was great fun and I am still active doing these activities plus teaching my private students which has been very rewarding. I've really tried to think outside the box and help keep them engaged and motivated to play during this time of barely any school band and youth symphony programs being able to run the way the students and teachers are used to due to safety from covid.

Like many musicians who haven't worked the way we are used to since March, I began to question what my function was in society. As a performing musician, I knew what my role and responsibility was. During a pandemic that is still raging but with a glimmer of hope, my contribution to society has had to shift. The general public does not need another trumpet video from me, sorry but it's true. Someday that will be different, but for right now, that is where I am. And I'm ok with that. I still practice trumpet everyday. I have goals and a practice journal. But these goals are strictly for my own advancement and enjoyment at the moment since I have very few performance opportunities on the horizon. This is also why this is my first blog post since June. I really haven't had much to say that I thought would be of interest or use to my readers and followers.

I decided over the summer to get my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Certification. My course started in October and it will now end in April. It's been a wonderful experience so far. Extremely thought provoking and inspiring. I have been practicing Kundalini for about 13 years. I've been interested in doing the teacher certification course for some time. But my performing schedule has always prevented me. So I decided now was the time. Over the years, beginning in college, I have gone to other yoga classes that are a bit more mainstream like Hatha, Iyengar, Yin, Vinyassa etc. but I could never figure out how to use these within my daily life.

You may be wondering what is it? Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of awareness. The term Yoga means union. It is a union of your consciousness with the infinite consciousness. Kundalini is an energy or awareness that lives at the base of the spine. Kundalini Yoga is about your awareness of your union with the infinite consciousness in order to live to you fullest potential. Classes use chanting, breathing exercises, kriyas (a series of postures) and meditation to align your soul with your mind and body.

What inspired me to write about my Kundalini journey, were you, my followers. I started posting about this on Instagram and many of you have reached out and asked will I be blogging about it? Finally I can say yes. Up until recently, it has felt like a private journey that I didn't have words to describe and report about. And honestly I haven't felt like it. Not everything needs to be out on the web, until you want it to be.

One of the most pivotal experiences has been doing a meditation for 40 days straight.

I have done 40 day mediations before but the daily commitment was for much shorter lengths of time, like 11 minutes, maybe the occasional 31 minutes. So this was a first of this length for me. 40 wasn't an arbitrary number. It takes 40 days to make a mental habit, 90 days to reach the sub-conscious and 120 to reach the unconscious mind. This practice had a set of three meditations put together to powerfully be called Co-Creating a New Life. All of the mediations were practiced for 11 minutes each. 11 is not a random pick either. It is the number of infinity. The first mediation in the set was Sat Kriya, which is very powerful in Kundalini Yoga. It balances all of the 7 chakras. Then there was a rest on your back for 11 minutes. That is how Sat Kriya works, you must rest for the exact length you practice. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to rest on your back for 11 minutes when you feel charged up and want to jump to the other meditations. The next one was SaTaNaMA. This meditation opens up your third eye point. This is the point between the eyebrows. Focusing there opens up the power of our intuition. The final 11 minutes was the Sodarshan Kriya which uses a pranayama (breathing exercise) to clean out your garbage.

What I experienced!

I practiced this Sadhana, another term for your daily practice, at all times of the day. The best time is really first thing in the morning. It really sets me up with a clear mind and a lot of energy for the day. I also liked to practice after I ate breakfast, although we were advised to do it on an empty stomach. But I do wake up starving most mornings. There were many days I did it later. Like in between trumpet practice sessions or sometimes I did it later in the evening which made me feel too charged up for sleep. I didn't feel any negative affects from doing the mediation ultimately for 45 days. I felt really great overall. More grounded, more energy, confident and able to assess most of my daily situations with a neutral mind. During this time, my husband and I went through all aspects of selling our house, which is one of the most stressful experiences people can go through. I generally felt neutral or was at least able to get to a neutral space relatively quickly when we received bad news.

I was able to record some trumpet videos for students or performances with relative ease during this time. The pinnacle of realizing this mediation was working well for me, I recorded an 8 minute teaching video with explanations and playing in 1 take. Something that ordinarily would have taken hours to do and I would have agonized over. I began to notice that the caffeine in my one cup of coffee a day was too much. So I started making 1/2 caff for myself. Now after 45 days of the mediation plus another 25 days of starting another mediation, I can't seem to drink caffeine at all. Decaf coffee is it for me right now. Luckily I found a great decaf from a local roaster called Perkolator in Portage Park, Chicago. I also feel a lot more grounded and neutral while I play trumpet too. Last week I had the good fortune of actually going to work in the Reading Symphony Orchestra in PA. I played on Mendelssohn 4. I have not felt that grounded and comfortable sitting in my chair in god knows how long. It was a whole new experience of feeling grounded, no tension in my lower body which I wasn't aware how present it was just prior to the pandemic while I was on stage. I was solidly sitting with feet n t he floor. A very neutral mind (no judgment good or bad) approach to doing my job in the orchestra and I was very aware of how open my heart center was while I played.

Why did I stop at 45 days?

I found another mediation and yoga kriya that just felt right for me to dive into during a daily practice.

So pandemic life is treating me quite well at the moment. I'm very fortunate to have this teacher training program in my life right now. Prior to the pandemic I did keep an almost daily mediation practice for the last 11 or 12 years. I do think it is my ace in the hole that I do have when keeping the lifestyle I was living prior to the pandemic. For the last 6 years, I have managed to almost seamlessly live two lives, one in Honolulu and one on the East Coast. It's legit, I felt very neutral in my mind about traveling and adjusting to my surroundings so frequently. Now I think that feeling is even stronger and I'm looking forward to resuming a similar schedule when the time is right.

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