You may have heard that being more mindful makes you a better person. And, it’s proven scientifically that this is the case. Creating a consistent mindfulness practice will grant you a healthier and more productive life. But what exactly is mindfulness?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It is the practice of focusing fully on the here and now. In my experience, in order to incorporate present moment awareness into your life, you need to do so gradually. Here is my step-by-step guide to help you move towards mindfulness. Continue reading “Live Younger with a Mindfulness Practice”→
We are blessed with brains that are both practical and mysterious. Although science has thoroughly studied this amazing organ, there are numerous discoveries yet to be uncovered. No wonder it is so well protected and sits up so high!
These last few weeks I have been exploring what I will call mind yoga. The concept of which is cultivated through energy alignment, pranayama and meditation.
In order to truly be aligned, energy should be generated at all levels of the chakric system – from the muladhara or root chakra all the way up to the sahasrara or crown chakra.
In yoga, there are several postures to facilitate and balance these energy centers. Since I have covered most of them in past posts, today I will focus on the uppermost level of the chakric chain.
Most yoga students begin the practice of yoga to learn and benefit from its physical postures or asana.
It’s the way that I got started. As a former dancer, I was drawn to the slow movements and deep sense of alignment that the poses provided. At that time, I didn’t realize that I was simultaneously tuning into my breath. My first teacher would gently remind the class to inhale and exhale as we stretched and contracted. It felt fluid and natural and my body felt aligned and peaceful at the end of each session. But we didn’t call it pranayama. At the end of class, we took time to close our eyes and sit quietly. We were encouraged to focus on the simple pattern of our breath, the sounds within the space or a specific intention for ourselves. But we didn’t call it meditation. Continue reading “What’s Missing from Your Yoga Practice?”→
“…No matter how far the wild gander flies, at some point it remembers, and migrates back to its home, always at the proper season. In the same way, we as spiritual beings following a spiritual principle must, like the wild gander, remember, and migrate back to our spiritual home…” – Goswami Kriyananda
When I began exploring a meditation practice some years ago, I found it difficult to remain present at first. Who hasn’t? Luckily there are a myriad of techniques available for generating awareness. And, through trial and error, it’s possible to discover a method that speaks to you. In the end, a meditation practice should give you energy, enthusiasm, peace and joy.
Today I am introducing what may be the most effective concentration/meditation technique that I have encountered in my training and practice. It frequently helps to remove the attachments and fluctuations from my mind so that I can focus on my breath and generate positive energy.
“Your mind can be compared to a glass of muddy water. If you let the glass stand for a long time, the mud will settle at the bottom of the glass and the water will become fairly clear. So when you sit down for a while to concentrate, your mind is muddy with restless thoughts. But if you sit long enough, repeatedly bringing the wandering mind back to the practice of meditation, you will see that all thoughts settle down; and in that stillness you will feel superconsciousness.” — Paramahansa Yogananda
Our minds are filled with muddy impressions of who we think we should be. We absorb distorted beliefs, like detritus, and allow them to influence us. A lot of times we even define ourselves by this garbage without thinking clearly.
“Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached”. – Yoga Sutras.
Learning to sit peacefully with the breath is founded on the postures of yoga. Yoga asana is performed so that the body is able to sit comfortably in stillness. Pranayama or breath control is the fuel that sustains us to stay steady in our bodies and minds.
In the practice of yoga it is important to find a restful seat. Using a wall, a chair or other props to keep your spine upright is suggested if your hips or back muscles are weak or tight. Another method for learning to sit on the floor is to gradually introduce the muscles to the practice.
“Yield to the flow. It is the most intelligent, fulfilling thing to do. Surrender your best sense of what to do or not to do and trust in the flow of Being.” – E. Schiffmann
Your challenge this week is to take 5 minutes each day to go with the flow by practicing what speaks to you.
You can simply sit and breathe, do one or two yoga poses that are familiar to you, or, if it’s a “down day”, enjoy a relaxation pose like Savasana (corpse pose). The important thing is to go to your dedicated space and set your timer for 5 minutes. Just 5 minutes – no more.
If you are a teacher, try this in class. Allow a few minutes for self-practice prior to the start of class.
“Feel the life force flowing from you and drawing into you from the atmosphere: from the rain, from the sky, from the air around you and the stars and the moon and the sun, and everything that exists that represents energy.” -Rudi
Our “pillar” this week is to do some “mind clearing.”
“Regular (yoga) practice teaches us to stay present in every moment, achieving more than we were previously capable of.” -T.K.V. Desikachar
In order to be ready for this week’s practice, you’ll need to prepare a bit.
First, choose a location for your practice. The actual place you utilize is insignificant. It could be a room that you have dedicated to your practice, a smaller section within a certain room or even a place on the floor or a chair. Distinguish your area somehow by placing a significant object or even your rolled up mat nearby. Continue reading “Establish A Steady Yoga Practice – Here & Now”→
It feels as though everything is in a state of flux lately. For me, it started with the solar eclipse last month. I found that particular occasion to be the point when the proverbial line was drawn in the sand. Since then, I have had a perspective change in a precise direction, one which I hope will lead me to a positive transformation.
For thousands of people, the natural disasters that have occurred over the past few weeks have drastically changed their lives; in ways unfathomable for the rest of us. Loss and devastation to property and whole communities has many people turning away from the places they once called home.
Yoga teaches it is not what happens to us in life, but what we choose to do about it, that reveals our true nature. On the mat, we use our breath to confront any barriers so that we may flow with ease and comfort. Off the mat, the same is true. We must find coping measures to face our limitations and move onward with grace.
In these changing, and, for some, violent times, we can all persevere by connecting with our centers. Here we will find the heart to move through our challenges and the fortitude to proceed with our lives. Our centeredness will become the anchor that weathers the storms.
When complications arise, I turn to this simple quote by Lao-Tzu:
“Stay in the center of the circle and let all things take their course.”
Although we will still be in action, clearing the debris, rearranging our homes, taking care of loved ones and other inevitable duties, it is the act of acceptance, of surrendering into what “is” that allows us to know that we are exactly in the center of our circle – right where we are supposed to be. This is the place where we can locate our peace.
I would like to pass onto you a portion of Yogananda’s text Inner Peace. As you meditate on it, may it help you to find moments of comfort and clarity in these times of disruption and transformation.
Fix your mind inwardly between the eyebrows on the shoreless lake of peace. Watch the eternal circle of rippling peace around you. The more you watch intently, the more you will feel the wavelets of peace spreading from the eyebrows to the forehead, from the forehead to the heart, and on to every cell in your body. Now the waters of peace are overflowing the banks of your body and inundating the vast territory of your mind. The flood of peace flows over the boundaries of your mind and moves on in infinite directions.
May peace bring balance to your existence and vibrate out to those who would benefit.