Thoughts on meditation.
Quick follow up on Saturday's experiment using the idea of manifestation from Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want And Getting It. I wrote that at least 150 new visitors would read this series. That didn't happen, and I even tried to force it to happen by writing a Google Adword! I had 14 visitors.
What should I learn from this?
If I'm truthful with myself, I believe I didn't believe enough in the power of manifestation. So, I'll try again. Today, October 6, 2008, at least 200 special people read what I have to say on this blog and offer feedback (or at least support).
I'll STOP and meditate on this now, which brings us to meditation and yoga....
Yoga is not just about stretching. Or about being a vegetarian. Or about being flexible. Or about wearing cool yoga clothes. Yoga CAN encompass these characteristics.....but it is much more.
Yoga is a toolkit for living. Some days yoga is loafing on the couch with a good book. Some days yoga is running a marathon. Some days yoga is practicing asana (postures) at a yoga class.
Yoga is observing what our body, mind and spirit require at this moment. And respecting what we need at each moment. And sometimes this means being more disciplined other times this means not being so hard on ourselves.
Many of us (especially those of us who grew up in the Boston area and have been pushed and driven to excel academically, financially and professionally) don't know how to relax. Relaxing is about calming the chatter in our mind, making sure we're not holding our breath, and clenching our muscles. It's not something we are taught in school. It's not something that is intuitive. Yoga gives us a framework for relaxing.
Here are 3 suggestions for starting the practice of relaxing (ie yoga and meditation):
1. Stop what ever you are doing right now and notice if you are holding your breath. If you are, that's ok. Just take a breath in through your nose and let it out through your mouth. If that felt good, do it again. If it didn't feel good just take a few breaths in and out through your nose. That's it. If you're having trouble falling asleep tonight, try this again 10 times. If your mind wanders away from your breathing before you get to 10 - forgive yourself - and just start over. There's no grade or evaluation of how your breathing.
2. Bring your focus to your jaw and your shoulders. Are you clenching your teeth together or gripping your lower jaw over to one side? Just bring a tiny smile to your lips and you'll automatically stop clenching your jaw. You may find that this relaxes your neck and shoulders too (or not; there's no "right" response for your body to give you). Now shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and hold your breath for a moment; then let your shoulders drop down - let gravity do this for your, you don't need to control your shoulders. Try this a few more time. Shoulders don't need to protect our ears and yet nearly all of us walk around in a perpetual state of shoulders trying to touch our ears -a constant shrug. This is a something we've conditioned ourselves to do as a stress response, from sitting at the computer too long, or when we're cold. And it can cause lots of unnecessary tension in our back, neck and shoulders. So whenever you can, just let your shoulders fall away from your ears. You can do this as many times as you like, until your shoulders remember to do it all on their own.
3. Pause -Just pause. Whatever you are doing right now (and it may be 3 things at once). Suspend them all. Close your eyes and take 10 breaths (any kind of breath is fine - through your nose, through your mouth, whatever comes most easily to you). That's it. Go back to what were doing before you closed your eyes. If this felt ok, do it again in an hour, maybe try it at work.
These are your tools for living. You can use them anytime you like. There's an unlimited supply of times you can practice these tools. Probably no one will even notice you're "doing yoga" or "meditating" when you're playing around with these tools. Enjoy. Relax.
Resources for PRACTICAL yoga and meditation: