At yoga2go we have just finished a 5 week introduction into meditation. The following is for the participants as a re-mind-er of what we practiced and why we truly want to practice. And for those of you who have not participated and are interested, I invite you to re-mind yourself about why you may want to practice. And then of course, to be the change you want to see by practicing.
Becoming aware of sensations in the body.
We can get so busy in our daily lives that our mind is continuously occupied with planning for the future or mulling over the past that we miss much of our real life. What is real life? That what is happening Right Here Right Now. One way to become more aware of now, to step out of the busy-ness of the mind, is to become aware of one specific part of the body. For example, put your attention into your left big toe. Spend the next minute just feeling your left big toe. Then you can expand this awareness to feeling both feet. You will probably notice some tingling start to happen, or warmth, or whatever sensation. Where your attention goes your energy flows. Remember this simple fact the next time you are caught up in thinking about your life, instead of living your life, and step out by feeling your feet. Or your belly, or your hands. Or the tip of your nose. Or your right ear.
Becoming aware of your thoughts.
It is time to really wake up to the fact that we are NOT our thoughts. Our thoughts have actually no power or meaning – only that what we give them, consciously or not. Where your attention goes your energy flows. This means that every thought that is accepted as real, as truth, that is (un)consciously repeated and repeated is having an impact upon the body. These thoughts create chemical reactions and ultimately deeply rooted belief systems. A belief is only a often repeated thought coupled with a physiological reaction. We (and our surroundings) are often continuously and unconsciously brainwashing ourselves into this or that belief. The first step to becoming free from our own unconscious and conscious programming is recognising the fact that my thoughts do not mean anything (unless I believe them) and that I have NO neutral thoughts. This means that my thoughts really matter. All of them. At least for as long as I remain identified with them.
Tension Releasing Exercises (TRE) and Fear
Our problem today is very often not fear itself, it is the fact that we no longer are Facing our Fears. We have learnt to ignore our fears and our unease and keep on keeping up appearances. However, the time does come when we are ready to make change, which means that we MUST GO INWARDS IN ORDER TO COME OUT. Instead of ignoring what the body is feeling, start to become curious about what your body is telling you. Don’t fear the messages of your body, and for sure, do not believe the fear-mongering of your mind. If you are ready to deepen your experience of TRE, especially with respect to emotions, fight, flight and dissociation, come to our workshop 17 & 18 June.
Portals to Awareness – getting past the perverse pleasure of thinking
1. Learn to feel the inner body, become more aware of your body. Feel your hands, your belly, your feet. Feeling the aliveness in your body. When you are really feeling, really experiencing, you are not thinking. Start to realise the difference between thinking about feeling and EXPERIENCING feeling.
2. Breath awareness.
3. Calming the nervous system with exhalations and the voo. Read this article for more information about the effect of toning or chanting.
Every morning 5 minutes sitting. Focus on feeling your inner body with belly release or feeling hands or feet.
Every evening 5 minutes – one night TRE, the next Voo into the belly.
Journal your experiences.
Become more and more aware of your thinking. Become the observer of your thinking. Apply this idea to your thoughts this thought about (fill in your subject….) does not mean anything.
In order to become aware of your breathing patterns observe whether you hold your breath, yawn or sigh a lot. An excellent practice for rebalancing the breath is learning to exhale. This week you can practice by exhaling with the ssssssss (tongue touching lower teeth). This activates the core and allows you to exhale slowly and completely. Allow a pause to settle in before slowly relaxing your belly and allowing the breath to flow in your nose naturally. Do not breath in deeply. This is all about the exhale. Watch this video or read this blog for more info on rib breathing and start practicing breathing into the back side of the body. Releasing the thoracic spine has a lot to do with improving the freedom of our breath. To do this, find yourself a good teacher and starting moving more and more varied.
Every morning 10 minutes sitting. Focus on breathing and inner body awareness.
Every evening 5 minutes – one night TRE, next night extending the exhalation with the ssssss or the vooo, whatever feels best for you.
There are many ways to meditate and many ways to breathe. Meditation could also be seen as attention, awareness or consciousness and in this light, meditation is a way of living. Not something you make time to do, but an awareness of life – of this moment right here right now.
10 minutes exhaling through a straw and inhaling through the nose. If you get dizzy, just stop until you feel good again, take your time to build up to 10 minutes if necessary. A couple of minutes is also excellent! Again this is to support your ability to exhale. While you are doing this observe your physical sensations in order to anchor your attention and train embodiment which is the actual experience of living. It is important to keep describing your sensations – not your emotions. Emotions are our interpretations of what we are thinking and / or feeling. By naming physical sensations as an emotion we actually cease the process of curiosity and the ability to let the energy flow and go. We name it and through this hold on to it. By naming it our minds delightfully get into the perverse pleasure of thinking about why I feel so… (angry, sad, depressed, scared…). This is not letting go, this is blocking and holding on. Or other words… mental masturbation.
10 minutes alternate nostril breathing.
Embodied TRE. Be here Now.
Every morning 10 minutes seated meditation with either 5 minutes straw breathing or 5 minutes alternate nostril breathing, then 5 minutes observing the breath.
Every evening 5 minutes TRE one evening, next evening sssss or voo breathing.
Don’t forget to journal! It is a very enlightening process to journal your experiences. It makes the process more conscious and it is an eye opener to occasionally look back and become aware of how much more aware you have become.
5 minutes alternate nostril breathing, 5 minutes watching the breath.
Become aware that you have a dominant nostril. Every 40 or so minutes your nostrils switch dominancy. This is an excellent awareness practice, tune in right now, which nostril is dominant?
Stress hormones make you obsess and focus on WHAT IS THE MATTER. Rumination – endlessly trying to figure out how to fix things or change situations does not work. If it did you wouldn’t be reading this right now. When you first start meditating and become aware of the chaos that is in the mind the first reaction is often aaaaaahhjhhhhhhhh, I cannot meditate it is making me crazy. No, no, my friend, you are only just now becoming aware of the craziness that is ALWAYS there. This is a GOOD thing. You are finally becoming aware to what is. And now, be gentle with yourself, celebrate every time you become aware of the craziness in the mind, feel which nostril is dominant, feel your hands and feet and break the neurological / chemical (= emotional) addictions by breaking the obsessive thought cycle.
In other words, there are NO BAD MEDITATIONS. When you notice you are stuck in endless thinking you have 2 choices:
a) to continue the endless rumination, to continue being a slave to your habits, getting into self criticism, arguing with yourself and trying to talk yourself into awareness. Is just another side of the same story. Don’t go there. Better to at least intend
b) total surrender – surrender into the fact that you just do not know. Surrender into awareness. Surrender is not something you do it is a state of being. A state of non-resistance. A state of non-identification with the mind-stuff. You can see it, you are not it. You are the space within which it all occurs.
When our stress hormones are continuously ON it is like having a fire alarm continuously blaring through our body. Our body starts to break down, when there is a fire, there is no time to rebuild, the fire must first be put out. However, in our body, there is hardly ever a real fire, only a continuous stream of false alarms due to out of control thinking and emotionality. In order to turn the alarm off we meditate, do TRE, we wake up and feel which nostril is dominate, relax the belly, exhale. We practice HRC (see below) and gratitude. We break the cycle. When the alarm is turned off we get the chance to regenerate, our body can heal, our mind can heal. Where attention goes energy flows. When you break the cycle of reactivity and learn to PAUSE, to just observe – you start to change your neurological connections and your body gets to move into a new state of being. This takes a conscious effort to focus your attention on that what is working. See your brain as a living garden, you get to choose what you want to grow in your garden. The next time you catch yourself stuck with all alarm bells blaring try out this thought I am willing to see this differently. Feel which nostril is dominant, relax your belly, exhale completely, feel your feet. Change your habits by becoming aware of now. Avoid arguing with yourself. Step back and observe yourself. Break the habit. Exhale consciously.
Every morning 15 minutes seated meditation: 5 minutes straw breathing or alternate nostril breathing and 10 minutes breath observation.
Every evening 5 minutes TRE one evening, next evening voo or sssss breathing.
See if you can become aware every hour of your waking day which nostril is dominant. Every hour drop your chin to your chest and breath 3 conscious breaths, exhale completely and allow a pause before you inhale. In that pause relax your neck, relax your brain and experience the stillness, the spaciousness that is always there. This spaciousness is what makes it possible for you to observe your thoughts instead of be your thoughts.
Heart Rate Coherence
In order to get our head back where it belongs, in alignment with our heart we must again learn to feel our heart. For more information about the science of HRC, read this article.
Tune in to your heart, feel how it beats in your chest. If this is not possible, lay your hand on your sternum and tune into the area of your heart. Then, slow down your breathing, make it conscious and see your breath flowing in and out of your chest through your heart. Remember a time when you experienced feelings of love, gratitude, compassion, remember a time in nature or with loved one(s) and re-experience those feelings. If this is very difficult for you, check out this, what does that do for your heart? Oftentimes we have practiced other feelings (frustration, anxiety, worry, anger) so much it may take some sessions before we can tune back in to our hearts. If this is so, take this as a message of priority. Your heart may be put on the top of your priority list. If you are having difficulties you can always invest in the Heart Math software to practice at home. If you live near me (Netherlands), you can come and hang out with me and practice on mine. The state of our world at this time is an excellent reflection of a head that has taken over, pushed the heart into the back seat and has run amok. The refusal to see the dire straights of how we are living, the intense fear that is cultivated by our culture through the media, government, work floor, etc, is definitely a head thing. A mind gone mad.
HRC is one of the ways we can return from the brink of madness back into the potential of being human. And this is the beauty of how we are all so connected, we do not have to preach to others or try to change others, all we do is work on ourselves. Recognise our own inner chaos which is mirrored in the outer chaos. Practicing and nourishing our own coherence, practicing gratitude, being the change we wish to see. Taking response-ability for all of life by weeding our own internal garden. Recognising that our thoughts MATTER. All of them.
Once the head is back in alignment with the heart, your intuition becomes clear. You are once again the caption of your own ship. A life that is in alignment is naturally joyous, is expansive, is compassionate, is creative, is vitally alive, is naturally present, is able to handle all the challenges of life and becomes one hell of an adventure.
Now it is time for you to find that what works for you. It may be breath observation, sitting and
observing all that is happening within your body, feeling your internal environment, extending the exhalation, TRE, 10 minutes of voo or ssss, straw breathing, alternate nostril breathing or even an entire year of practicing only heart rate coherence. Whatever it is that you choose to practice, remember we either practice consciously (meditation, all of the above) or unconsciously (allowing the mind to go where it will, allowing our emotions to run our minds), either way it is a practice, where your attention goes energy flows.
Feel free to pass this blog on. The more the merrier!
A few of my many inspirators whose work is included in the above:
Joe Dispenza & Sounds True Neuro Science training summit 2017
A Cousre in Miracles, lesson 1