Flipping through a recent issue of Yoga Journal magazine, I spotted an article about meditation that resonated with me so I thought I'd share it in class this past Friday.
The gist of the article was that meditation, while a beautiful and ancient practice, does not necessarily have to happen while sitting in silence on a meditation cushion, chanting mantras and handling mala beads. I am a true and passionate believer in the power of a daily seated, silent meditation practice and I am here to say that it works wonderfully.
That being said, meditation and stillness can happen wherever we happen to be at any given moment. Everyday we find ourselves with free minutes while "waiting" for something to happen. This waiting provides many opportunities for personal transformation. Whether we're stuck in traffic or at a red light, standing in line at the bank, or waiting for an appointment, we have the choice to either fill our moments with the simplicity of stillness or we can fill the still moments by chatting on the cell phone, sending text messages, logging onto Facebook or turning on the TV. Not to say that any of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but taking a look at the need to fill space is where we begin to move closer to transformation.
By setting an intention, we can transform our free moments into stillness or relaxation and experience the qualities of meditation. The Yoga Journal article suggested some ways to cultivate stillness in your free moments. Here are a few:
1) Stand more firmly on your feet or settle into your sitting bones and hips. Breathe deeply.
2) Soften your facial muscles!
3) Free your hands - rest them by your sides or place them gently on your lap.
I'd also like to add a few of my own:
4) Take a moment to close your eyes and deeply inhale then slowly exhale (not while driving of course!). Notice how it feels to be present with yourself.
5) Rather than getting in the car and turning on the radio first thing, roll down the window(s) and feel the breeze in your hair. Breathe!
6) Standing in line at the grocery store? Use it as an opportunity to inhale/exhale then pause for 5 seconds before drawing in another inhale. Repeat until the line begins to move. Instant stillness!
Asana practice can also be a moving meditation. At home and have a few free minutes? Roll out your yoga mat or find a quiet space to stand and practice the following flow:
Be sure to match your movements to the length of your breath which is ideally long, slow and deep. Let your mind, body and breath move together as one.
Start out standing in mountain pose (Tadasana). Root yourself.
Inhale, slowly raise your arms over your head.
Exhale, slowly release your hands to your sides and clasp them behind your back.
Inhale, draw the clasped hands away from your back, open you chest/heart, lift your gaze towards the sky!
Exhale, fold forward from the creases of your hips with your hands still clasped behind your back.
Inhale, lift the chest, sweep the arms over head
Repeat 5 times or more.
This flow is a wonderful way to not only root yourself in your body, but it also opens your heart, your chest, and your shoulders. It increases your lung capacity (more breath=more energy!). It helps to connect you to the meditative power of linking breath with movement (also known as Vinyasa).
How do you fill your moments? The choice is yours!
Until next time!
What To Remember When Waking
by David Whyte
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?