Here is a guided meditation practice that I have been offering on a recent meditation course. I don't think it is possible to teach meditation, the same way you can't teach someone how to sleep but here are some pointers to ensuring the conditions are optimised to enable you to enter into a state of concentration and mindful attention whereby you might slip into meditation and timelessness - so you have direct experience of it and know when you're doing it - a glimpse before you become aware of it in your mind again.
1. Find somewhere where you will not be disturbed, somewhere clear of clutter. Sit in a comfortable position on a chair, or on your yoga mat on a yoga block or bolster to support your spine.
2. Take time to sit with your self – take a few long breaths as if you're sighing out, a sigh of relief to stop doing, rushing, busy...become 'present' - notice and name what is true eg. I can feel the ground underneath me, I notice my hands are cold, I can hear the birds singing outside etc...
3. Stay long enough to settle into position, to allow the dust to settle and notice your thoughts - set your timer for 20 minutes.
4. Notice the breath, the body, all sensations – smells, taste…linger on touch of your hands, your clothes on your skin, the air on your body, any images behind your eye lids or anywhere else in your body, the sounds you can hear inside and outside. Feel yourself still and the vibration of any sound you can here passing through. Without disturbance – this is awareness without attachment.
6. It may be difficult to accept thoughts, attitudes, criticism - the mind may want to protect you from what is happening now – it may distract you with physical discomfort, your body calling for attention, thoughts that will stop you from any kind of deep experience.
7. Ask yourself WHAT NEEDS TO BE HEARD? You may be surprised - meditation can be very helpful and healing but you have to give it time so don't give up after a few minutes, or even 10. And if you are impatient, ask yourself if there is a connection between this attitude now and how you operate in your life outside - is there teaching here?
Some more thoughts on meditation, what it means, how you know when you're doing it and what is it useful for?
What actually is meditation and how do you know when you're doing it? As with many practices that are difficult to describe in words, meditation is often misunderstood - beginners often tell me they cannot clear their mind, they cannot meditate or sit still long enough, or even sit still! So we could start by asking what meditation IS rather than how to 'do it'.
It's simple really - meditation IS awareness. When you close you close your eyes and shift your attention from the outside world to the inside world, what do you become aware of? What do you notice? Can you track constant change and flux that IS the movement of the body, the breath, the mind, energy, emotions, mood - and this is the tricky part:
NOTICE WITHOUT TRYING to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
To rest your full attention on the NOW...to suspend your life for some time to become timeless...to focus fully on the present...to narrow down your life to this moment...
For deep questions, we need to be focused on listening for the answers and be awake to whatever arises whether that comes in the form of answers...or quite often, no answers...trust that what arises, what is revealed may have a message for you that you don't need to work out right now!
Talking of questions, what you hope to receive from meditating - to know yourself more deeply? to be with the truth of what is affecting you right now? to accept everything that emerges from the depths of your body/mind/soul? to simply be? to welcome discomfort and conflict as well as joy and peace?
Before you start, ask yourself what is the difference between thinking and knowing? Are you concentrating hard to ‘do something’ or can you be attentive to what is already there?
The deepest question we can ask ourselves is
‘Who am I?'
Don't TRY to work this out by thinking - If we remain in our heads, we end up overthinking, analysing, considering, compartmentalising - this is NOT meditation
If we can simply DROP the trying to work it out, trying to stop our thoughts, we may find that we create room for simply tuning in our deep 'knowing', and experience a sense of awareness of a timeless being that is deep inside us, maybe just a glimpse.
The good news is that practice can create new pathways in the brain that makes it easier to drop into the present moment and give ourselves a break from overthinking, from criticising and judging, chewing over what's happened in the past, and worrying about the future.
Judy Hirsh Sampath, Yoga teacher and Yoga therapist, leads mindfulness, restorative, yoga nidra workshops, yoga therapy training, and therapeutic yoga retreats in India.
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Join us this weekend at the Om Yoga Show in London this weekend Friday 19th -Sunday 21st October 2018
Here we go again - preparing to turn inwards and away from life outdoors. You may have been lying in the grass, gazing up at the sky, spreading out your arms and legs to keep cool. Now, we turn gradually towards the opposite - to keep ourselves warm, we close the doors, keep the windows closed and we start to cuddle up, curl inward, turn to tending to our own homes, our own bodies. Its a great time to notice how movement can generate energy, and where the flow of energy circulates and where it gets stuck and cold. To get the energy flowing throughout the whole of our body, we can start the day with some movement on or off your yoga mat. 15 minutes is enough to un-block some tense spots and the use of yoga props can help us even more. A yoga belt or strap can contain our bones and joints to avoid over-reaching! Blocks can keep legs moving symmetrically, and a block between the hands can do the same for the arms as insight can arise when the arms are moving at the same time.
You certainly don't need to be super-fit, or at all fit for that matter, to get moving in the morning and the effects of unblocking the body can mirror the effect in the mind to create clarity, flow of ideas, more productivity. The heart is beating, the lungs are working, the blood is circulating, and the miracle of the body is getting on with its constant effortless balancing of the systems.
Here's a short morning practice you can do starting from your bed:
1. Use a yoga block between your hands to stretch back over your head as if you're yawning your whole body awake
2. Come to sit on the edge of your bed and rotate your shoulders forwards and back a few times - simple, slow, repetitive movement to wake up the brain gradually and gently
3. Time to stand up - feel your verticality and raise your arms to reach into the sky, Once again take a few yawns, sighs, and go to a window to look out.
4. Place your hands over your heart and feel your aliveness. Move in any way that feels good - you can put on some music to shift your mood to 'fully awake' mode
6. Come to stillness, Notice your breathing and start to take some smooth even long breaths, If you want you can use your arms to express your breathing direction.
7. Don't forget to come back to normal breathing in between the long ones to make sure you're not creating more tension
8. Imagine you are waking up every cell of your body and let them know that you are thankful for the miracle that is your body
9. Consider what you are going to do today - set an intention for your day and call out a few words name what it is you desire for yourself
At this point, you could do a short practice on your mat moving the spine in all directions, sit on a zafu, or folded blanket to meditate for 15 minutes, or lie down over a bolster to open your heart.
Have a great day and check back in at the end of the day with the same words and see what insights come up!
You can find Yoga Props in yogaunited.com.
I am a yoga teacher and a yoga therapist - I confess that I have been carried down the river of social media and I’m addicted. I pretend I need to do social media because my marketing team told me I should! I have set myself a challenge to switch off all social media after 8pm but I often find excuses to take my phone into the bedroom and have a peak if I’ve posted something to see if anyone likes me or even loves me! Social media can be replace relationships with real people, affects mood and self-esteem.
We are so encouraged to be witnessing a growing recognition of the importance of Restorative Yoga and a number of studio timetables are creating slots for Restorative classes and many teachers are including elements of the practice in their own workshops
When you know someone who loves yoga, then the festive season is a great time to treat them to something they will love and use.
When you have a busy schedule, and you feel there’s not enough time in the day and not enough sleep at night, it is good to notice how this ‘state of urgency’ affects your body, mind, and the people around you.
Yes Let's get the ball rolling - we're giving you 20% off all orders today
Making time for stillness, silence, to focus, release, repair, heal & share experience. How do you want to be in the world, what do you need in your life right now? Here's some pix from last weekend's workshops. OM SHANTI.
Yoga United are delighted to welcome back Lyn Tally, coming to Southern India from South Carolina, USA. This holiday will be back at Cherai Beach but earlier in the season this time