So here we are, the final week of March, and I hope that over the past three weeks you have at least experienced a tiny glimpse into that inner light and stillness that dwell in each one of us. Maybe it was just a moment or two of that quiet place where no thoughts dwell or perhaps it felt like moments, but in reality you were there for several minutes!! Whatever you have encountered, remember it is all part of the process. It has taken many years for that busy mind to become so cluttered and restless, and it may take a bit longer for it to learn to relax.
Here is some wonderful advice from my teacher, Nischala Joy Devi on the process of meditation:
"In meditation do not struggle with trying to get all the waves calm. Make the mind be your friend, not your enemy. Remember, you and your mind are on the same side - the side of wanting to be calm and peaceful. It's the nature of the thoughts to move and toss about. Instead of fighting to control them, rise above them as if in an airplane. Get distance from them and look down and see how small and undifferentiated everything looks. Or, if you wish, dive down deep. Like a scuba diver, go below the waves and turbulence to the silence, calmness, and beauty. Go deep within."
This week's goal:
20 minutes of seated meditation
This week's Mantra:
Sat Chit Ananda
(s-ah-t ch-it A-nan-da)
Try saying the first two words - sat chit - on your inhale, then exhale - Ananda
I am all Truth, I am all Knowledge, I am BLISS
Existence, Consciousness, Bliss
Joy is my highest consciousness
As the length of your meditation increases, the distractions from the body and mind may quite well increase as well. I highly recommend a light yoga asana practice - even just a few 1/2 sun salutations and a stretch or two to prepare the body for sitting. To further quite the mind I recommend about 5 minutes of pranayama (breathing). This can be a simple 3-part breath or a practice such as alternate nostril breathing or humming bee breath.
Instructions for 3-part breath:
- Close your eyes. Relax your face and body, and breathe naturally through your nose.
- Place your left hand on your low abdomen, a few inches below your belly button, and place your right hand on the outer right edge of your rib cage.
- Begin to focus your awareness on your breath as it moves in and out of your body through your nose.
- On your inhalations, feel the natural lift of your belly, followed by the expansion of your ribs.
- On your exhalations, feel the slight compression of your ribs, followed by the drop of your belly. Exhale completely, pressing very gently on your abdomen to help expel air.
- Next, bring your left hand to your chest, placing it in the center, just below your collarbone.
- As you inhale, breathe all the way into this area and allow your chest to rise slightly. Then, exhale completely.
- As you continue to breathe, keep your awareness on this three-part movement. As you inhale, your belly lifts, your ribs expand, and your chest rises. As you exhale, your chest drops, your ribs contract, and your belly softens and lowers.
- Continue at your own pace, gradually letting the three parts of the breath flow smoothly without pausing.
- Release your arms and focus your mind on your breath, continuing the three-part breath with full and complete inhalations and exhalations.
- Continue for up to five minutes, or for as long as you feel comfortable.
Instructions for Alternate Nostril Breath:
Sit comfortably and close your right nostril with your right thumb. Gently inhale through the left nostril. Then lift your thumb, close the left nostril with your ring finger, and exhale through the right. Reverse the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left. Repeat.
Instructions for Humming Bee Breath:
To practice Brahmari Pranayama, sit comfortably, with the back tall and shoulders relaxed. Start by taking a few natural breaths, and close your eyes (as long as closing them doesn't produce more anxiety). Then, keeping the lips lightly sealed, inhale through the nostrils. Exhaling, make the sound of the letter M, essentially a humming sound. Sustain the sound until you need to inhale. Then repeat: Inhale through the nose, then hum like a buzzing bee as you exhale. Continue by inhaling as needed and exhaling with this sound for several minutes. You can practice as long as it feels good.
The longer you sustain the humming exhalation, the more relaxing the Bee Breath is likely to be—but forcing the breath beyond your capacity can have the reverse effect, causing even more stress. So don't force yourself to maintain any particular speed. Inhale whenever necessary, and let the buzzing sound last as long as it is comfortable. Finally, spend a few breaths sitting quietly and noticing whether there are any changes in your breath or mood.
Have a wonderful, peaceful week!