Dear Yoga Friends,
Dear Yoga Friends,
Deep breathing and focus on the breath is just one beginning practice towards meditation, yet, Meditation is not this.
As an artist I could get “lost” in my work. Deep in concentration. I often get lost in ecstasy when dancing, I lose track of time similar to meditation, yet this is not meditation either!
If you get lost in asana practice, nature,making music or art or gardening, you may have entered an altered state similar to meditation, many would call this meditation. I would call it a taste; there is vastly more.
I had learned and share guided relaxation decades ago. I practiced techniques to “cool-down” students ending fitness classes. Now I do this in savasana and restorative yoga classes. Students greatly appreciate these moments of peace. The benefits of deep relaxation practice are numerous; calmer mind, increased energy, release of tensions in the body, Yet, this is not meditation.
In the early 1990’s I attended a meditation class taught by Deepak Chopra, He did a guided meditation that was a profound experience for me. I think of him often now, and have read his books, though for many years I didn’t practice meditation.
In the mid 90’s I met an extraordinary individual who was able to move and heal with energy. He spent many hours a day in meditation. At that time I didn’t understand the connection. I was blessed to have had those years of friendship and healing with Jeremiah. He practiced meditation and many people received profound healing and guidance from him. He was a great teacher, a fountain of love. I met him when he was in his 40’s. He had survived a tragic accident at 19 years old. After this injury (broken neck) he lived decades longer,surprising medical experts. He was genuinely at peace, even though his body suffered much pain as a quadriplegic. He practiced meditation daily!
In the late 1990s I was introduced to HeartMath biofeedback. Direct measurements of the metabolic and systolic heart rhythms combined with techniques to calm the mind showed directly in the program’s feedback. I used this program myself and with children who had experienced trauma. HeartMath is great technology and the HeartMath Institute is growing in it’s scope. It is a marvelous tool to help in relaxation and self awareness and self control (emotional health, PTSD)
This is not meditation, though it is a very good starting point for many people.
Discipline and daily practice opens up worlds of possibilities and awareness.
In 2009 I began study of Reiki, my Masters (teachers) instructed me to do it every day. I did Reiki meditation and energy work on myself daily for a year. This form of meditation I was able to stick with. Within months I began to shift into more awareness and profound peace. After Level 2, I began working on others as well and “saw” everyone’s inner beauty and a flow of love. Reiki meditation and healing opened up new sensibilities and awareness. I continued Reiki training to (Masters) Level 3. I came to understand more of what Jeremiah and Deepak Chopra were teaching! Other healers and traditions from many cultures; meditation is at the center of their practices.
These experiences where a good foundation for true meditation.
In 2010 I had the opportunity to take over a yoga class which I had been attending. I knew from past training that if I was to teach yoga, I had to practice asana and silent seated meditation daily, which I began in the months before taking over the class.
I got to where I could sit still for an hour meditation, yet, I would only have fleeting moments where there was peace, where the mental chatter would subside.
These brief moments where so profound that I continued finding it well worth the hour of sitting every day!
Silent meditation showed me how noisy my mind was and even now, how noise my mind can be!
Now, often during the day no matter how “stressful” or what events are going on, I can return to that peace within a few conscious breaths. This allows me to stay authentic and present. When I have peace with-in I can be present to others in a meaningful way.
Have I experienced enlightenment?
Yes! and no, and yes! It can be fleeting and can be found again in meditation.
True enlightenment is when that peace is carried out into every part of every day.
Personally, I do yoga asana to quiet my mind and prepare my body for seated meditation. When I began daily practice of both, I experienced amazing healing for my mind and body, and more… beyond words, language and description! I have also come to understand the energy that is within and around us.
Asana can lift us out of discomfort in the body. Meditation can help us have peace even when the body is in pain.
“Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it.” BKS Iyengar
“disturbances of the mind and emotions fade away, and we are able to see true reality.” BKS Iyengar
It means we face life head-on! We look at the hard stuff inside of us and outside in the world. That inner peace, is a reserve, so no matter what is going on outside, you are coming from a place of peace, rather than fear, anger, hatred, greed or pride.
As yogis we discover another reality beyond hype and fear. We chose compassion over and over. We show up to create another reality beyond the divisiveness of racism, sexism, classism, anti semitism. We look outside our individual socio-economic, racial, political, cultural bubbles to understand those we disagree with and those who we have been conditioned to see as “other”. We have the courage to build bridges daily.
We continue to reflect and improve ourselves and how we interact in the world. Svadhyaya – Self study, Sva means “self’ adhyaya means “inquiry” or “examination” This is the 4th Niyama (Niyamas are one of 8 limbs of yoga) .
We heal our emotional wounds. Often, especially in times of turmoil, we forget to go to the stillness and listen, to feel, to let our broken hearts weep, to grieve our losses. Personally sometimes…. I felt so domesticated, so numb, so stoic, so inexpressive, yet, now I am learning to tap into those wounded places and give them voice. I have been finding where the old wounds live in my body and discovering ways to move/ wash/ breath them out. Doing this work is not pretty, calm or subtle, it is powerful, and can be fierce and messy, but it does not mean your hysterical or insane, you are just alive!
Here are some article links which I have chosen for you, who want to delve further, ( this is also recommended reading for those of you attending the Women’s Healing Yoga Journey on February 18th).
Change is in the winds. Children are off to school. Mine is on the other side of the planet, far away for longer than ever before. I have cried, already missing her, yet, I praise the woman she’s become, and cry happy tears! When we talk my heart swells and she makes me laugh, often.
For me, Autumn is a time for rest or wildness, or both. Every autumn, I am aware of my own domestication process, school, learning to contain myself, sit still, follow directions, and hold back expression. So, I cry more this time of year, because I am missing my wildness. I want to dance with abandon, let tears roll, and laugh until my sides ache and eyes water. Not all the time, of course, but more, deeper.
As autumn deepens, it is a time of decay and dying, to let go of what has finished it’s time. Some of what we let go of , we may need to grieve.
I recently listened to these talks, Grief and Praise by a South American Shaman, Martin Prechtel. His way of speaking is humble and funny. I hope some of you listen and enjoy this as much as I did, at least read my notes here. He reminded me of the medicine of tears (and laughter). I am paraphrasing some of his talk here…
“The ability to weep is a gift. Laughter and weeping are relatives. Praise and grief live in the same house, sleep in the same bed. Weeping is not depression, not sadness…it is lack of grieving. Tears loosen medicine…This is why we feel so alive when grief is done…done properly…there is not a right way, but…you look a mess when you’re done and feel so alive~! Grief brings you back to life. Grief is a form of praise of life, the gift of being alive.”
He talked about how important it is to praise young people, all their ideas,” praise them well, all the time, listen to them and teach them how to grieve properly. Let then see you grieve so they will know how….. The ”tough” youth play out our illness, for us to see- they act flat- like they feel nothing….flat.” (he tells a funny story in the talk)
When something dies it is important to grieve, or it is as if it was never alive. You can’t deal with it yourself; it takes a community…To grieve properly takes a lot of people, hundreds of people… Praise is better that way too.
“When the tears roll you have to listen to the person. Nothing to solve… they are in that place, listen to them, let it rock.. Same with happiness… let it roll… Grief makes people care for each other…We love expression in the village, the people watch out for you. People praise and grieve in such a way that the village holds them up while they do it”.
Here is a prayer he spoke in native language, then in English, then explained it’s meaning Long Line, Honey in the Heart, tears of Gods, white roads, paved with the eyebrows of the moon, which is sea foam all color roads, which are paved with abundance from the tail of the morning star, which is the deer. No evils, 13 thank-you(s).
Do listen to the whole brief talks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6h3JNOCTYc
Frog and Dragonflies can you find the frog? Alb Bio Park