WARNING! Enter with zero expectations!
Meditation seems to be a “fix-all” buzz-word these days and a solution to settle a chatter driven mind. Just the thought of being told to meditate gave me anxiety. My life was in emotional chaos and turmoil through a divorce. I had kids to tend to, let alone myself and I had to make time to meditate? Um, “pass!” I thought. I don’t have time for this. I had just completed my yoga certification with CORE Power and now I had to make more time to meditate? Little did I know I really save the best for last.
After doing everything I thought was bringing me stillness and inner peace; running around teaching, taking yoga classes, getting a massage, I still found myself slightly scattered. Considering the inner peace I was searching for wasn’t really being found yet, I decided to give it a try. I got on the insight timer app and started with five minutes. I’ll be honest, that first five minutes was HARD, like REAL HARD. It’s as if every thought in your mind comes to the surface and you’re literally thinking about laundry, grocery lists, taking the trash out, and Christmas shopping for next year – WHAT?! It’s overwhelming, to say the least, but I had to start somewhere. I committed myself to five minutes every morning with will and determination. It then got to the point where my mind craved it every morning.
As with anything, the more I practiced, the better I got. My mind started to quiet. Those same recurring thoughts began to disappear, and I began to focus only on my breath. By focusing on the sound of my breath, the sweetness began to seep in. Sweetness meaning I was returning to my soul. The routine of daily life gets layered on so thick we begin to forget “Who am I?”. A question Deepak Chopra often refers to in meditations.
Insight began pouring in without chaos. The fireworks of thoughts that were going off in my head started to quiet and I arrived at a state of peace. That feeling of stillness I was searching for in the “doing” finally came to me in the “doing nothing”. Let me tell you, I have often been referred to as the “Energizer bunny”, so the thought of “doing nothing” frightened me to all ends! The serenity that came to me was the most glorious sensation of warmth and love that engulfed my body. Ooooook, this was good. This was really good, I thought Being the nerd I am researching and reading, I decided to further explore meditation and stumbled across The Chopra Center. I decided to take the deep dive and further my practice in becoming a Chopra Certified Primordial Sound Meditation Instructor to piggyback my yoga certification.
The next step is how do we fuse this all together or how did I piece this together, so to say, as a busy bee running around looking for honey and peace? Yoga is the prep work for meditation, but how do we arrive there? In my experience being consumed with energy, it’s to get moving first. We need to work out all the residual energy swimming around our energetic channels that are creating internal static and noise, disrupting us from the sweetness of our authentic soul.
For me, let’s start with a flow. A basic Vinyasa flow. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just get moving. Actually, in my opinion, move intuitively or start with sun salutations. First and foremost, check in with the breath and pay attention. Don’t just breathe to breathe, notice what it’s doing. The beauty of the breath, unlike our heartbeat, is that we have the gift to control it. By bringing awareness to our breath we can introduce peace to our nervous system and mind.
Yoga (to yolk), to come together not only in union, but mind-body and breath. We are re-introducing pranayama (breath) life force energy into our body to help re-regulate us from the crazy, nonstop moving world we live in. In this movement, we are taking the time to CHECK-IN and see what is actually going on internally. We’re drawing awareness to all senses.
First and foremost, what is going on with the breath because the breath is the biggest indicator of how our nervous system is functioning. Are we in a state of chaos or calm? We’re working “all the giggles out” as a teacher would say in pre-school. We need to move all the stale energy (Dukkha) out to make space for the bliss energy (Sukha) to engulf our subtle body. We are doing “energetic fitness” so to say.
After movement, let’s drop right down into a yin pose. For me, this is usually a seated forward fold (caterpillar). This allows us to check in even deeper and connect with the sensations that are going on in the body. What feels tight, stiff, or hurts? Can you actually FEEL the stagnant energy or can you feel the energy moving in your body? Notice what happens to the breath and also where you’re holding stress. You’ll feel locked up, clenched, use your breath to release these blockages within. This will take focus, concentration, and again, attention to the breath.
While seated in this forward fold, notice the breath slow down a little bit, notice the muscles and the body begin to soften and melt, and now we’re diving into the fascia (where we store emotions, that’s another segment). Please note, if at any time breathing has become too hard then you’ve gone too far. You want to breathe at a comfortable rate so that you CAN feel relaxation and the mind can stop swimming. Also, if at any point you feel any pain or pinching in this stretch you’ve also gone too far. Less is more when it comes to what we’re doing here. Tap into the sensations going on in the body. What do you feel? You are really diving into the senses here where ALL Christmas shopping thoughts should disappear because the main focus is your breath.
Now what? Well my friends, here we are sitting in a forward fold. Stay HERE, PAUSE, do not pass go and collect $200. Just stay PUT and BREATHEEEEEEE. The second option, come out of the fold and sit in a comfortable position. Most of all CHECK-IN. What’s going on with the breath and what’s going on in the mind? What are you observing? You are the witness and the observer of your thoughts but whatever is coming up let it come in and go. If you are a visual person think of the ocean and the movement of waves at the shore. The inhale are the waves drawing back and the exhale are the waves crashing at the shore. Stay here, stay with the breath, only the breath, and just BE. It’s so simple yet so complicated because we are wired and engrained to GO GO GO. Trust me, I am still trying to master the PAUSE. I can tell you though, the more I slow down and take time to pause, be, and meditate, I discover something new.
I’ve never been one to support affairs, but this has been the best love affair I’ve ever stumbled across. This love affair with myself has been the best treat I have given myself every morning. A moment of reflection and nourishing my system with pranayama life force energy to dive into the sweet nectar of my soul. Step by step you’ll reach a moment of stillness where you’ll be able to drop right into the pause without having to “work out the crazies.
Check-in next week where I’ll go into a further explanation of how Yin can assist your meditative practice.
For more info on Elisha click here, and join her every week for Mindful Mondays!
*Featured image via Kite_Rin | Adobe Photos