I've recently had more and more students ask me about the more subtle aspects of our Yoga practices. Meditation, mantra, mudra, pranayama, and philosophical studies are tools and techniques that you can use to take you deeper into the heart of practice where peace, harmony, and resilience take root. I'm planning to do my best to highlight some aspects of my personal meditation and yoga in action practices each week in way of inspiration to help you develop or deepen your own practice.
My personal practice has developed over many years and has included the study of a wide range of traditions. I've taken the tools from the traditions that naturally resonated the most with me and have assimilated in a way that supports me and my values. I believe this to be a great benefit of living in our age and time. As my practice includes elements from different traditions, I 'll do my best to share what I know about the roots of the practices. But, if we look at life and practice from a yogic standpoint - the individual forms are transient - it's the essence of the practice that really matters.
For Monday, July 20th
Meditation can happen anywhere and at any time.
Yes even with your eyes open and even with chaos around you.
My understanding of meditation is that there are many levels.... and many practices that all share the intention of bringing you to a place of both inner peace and resliliency. We can take small steps, great leaps, or make acts of deep surrender in moving towards a more centered state of being.
A great first step to begin to meditate is to simply begin to create a space within that will allow for greater ease. You can be standing, sitting, reclining, even running or otherwise moving. Bring your attention to your breath. Feel your breath flowing in and flowing out. Feel how the awareness and movent of your breath affects your body and your mind. Allow yourself to release whatever bit of gripping or tension you can in this moment. There you've done it. You've begun! The key will be to keep going. Give yourself more time to allow for you to develop a sense of ease in as many levels of your being as you can.
Going Deeper.... Mudra
A Mudra is a hand gesture used in meditation, yoga practice, dance, etc. to create an energetic seal. You can view it as a symbol and as you deeper your inner body awareness, you may begin to feel that the mudra has an impact on the way energy (prana) flows in and around your body.
Today I'm sitting with my regular meditation mudra. It's a mudra that developed naturally for me as the most comfortable way to steady the weight of my arms and upper body while sitting upright. Later I came to learn that it is named Dhyana Mudra and has it's roots in Buddhism (and likely other sources as well;-) Dhyana literally translates to Meditation. To take the mudra you simply place your left hand in your lap with the palm face up. Allow the left hand to receive the support of the right hand. With both palms cupping gently upward allow yourself to settle into your seat as much as possible with an extended spine and a smooth breath. As the left side of the body is often associated as the seat of receptive energy in our physical, taking this mudra reminds me of the value of balanced living. As much as we do need to work and put ourselves out in the world to support our well-being, we also need to take time to quiet, to soften, to relax, and to rest so that we can experience a state of harmonious being.
Although this photo is not my actual meditation practice for the day - I do my best to drop in towards meditation when I'm with my children. I deepen my breath, soften my gaze, notice agitation as it arrises, and do my very best to stay present in our interactions. This summer I'm doing Sianna Sherman's Goddess Project and so have committed to waking up a little earlier to practice meditation before the kids get up. It is certainly easier be in a state of mindfulness when distractions are at a minimum. With practice though you really can feel the benefits of a commmitted meditation practice throughout your day.
Be well out there - breathe deep - be kind - enjoy your precious life. Love, Kate