Have you given meditation a try? If so, did you begin with yoga first? Traditionally yoga precedes meditation, it gets the body ready for seated meditation. There are so many postures/poses(called asanas in Sanskrit) that there really is something for everyone. Even the most basic poses are beneficial & many advanced poses can be simplified.
I love to do the sun salutation series before a meditation session. The picture below shows the whole series which is a flow of 12 yoga postures.
Breath awareness is a key component in yoga. Be sure to pay close attention to the placement of the inhale & exhale. The breath will truly bring the most benefit to your postures & will really connect mind, body & spirit.
Although the main purpose of yoga is to prepare for meditation, it has so many other applications. Feeling anxious or nervous, feeling depressed or sad, feeling tired or did you happen to overdo it at the gym & now have sore muscles, or are you having trouble getting quality sleep? Although yoga is not a cure, any of these conditions can be helped with specific yoga postures. With a simple google search you can locate detailed instructions on yoga poses that can help with whatever ails you!
If that google search you just did overwhelms you with all of the hundreds of poses, don't let it! There is no need to know everything right out of the gate. You can take it slow, choose poses that meet your needs & skill set to begin with. If you are feeling brave find a yoga class in your area to attend. If you are willing to embrace your growing edges, you can really reap the many benefits of yoga. Don't be shy, give yoga a try!
(Pictured above, is where I'd love to meditate.)
My last post focused on the words, "slow down." In perfect timing, yoga training last weekend focused on meditation. Although, meditation is not for everyone, it has been a powerful force in my life for years & recent bodies of research have validated its benefits as well.
So what exactly is meditation? According to www.yogainternational.com, "In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens." In my mind, it is the best way to, truly "slow down."
There are various ways of meditating. It is not a one size fits all type of thing. According to Ganga White in Yoga Beyond Belief, "Sitting is the most commonly practiced mode of formal meditation technique." He says, "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There." Easier said than done, right?!? Well, you can try to find a meditation that fits your style & perhaps you'll stick with it. There is breath meditation, candle meditation, mantra meditation, body meditation, self-study, etc. Meditation can be done in silence, with music or even outside with the sounds of nature. It can be done in a formal sitting session or it can be done as you navigate your fast-paced life as a means of staying calm.
(Pictured above, is where I meditate daily.)
Personally, I would love to be able to get outside every day & do some formal meditation. But, realistically that rarely happens. I do a formal sitting session in my house, my closet to be exact, because it has the least possibility of interruptions. I am able to do this almost every morning for about 15 minutes before the others in my household get up. I use the sounds of nature via my stereo & a mantra that I have created that suits my needs, along with breath awareness. My mantra is something that I carry with me throughout the rest of the day. When anxiety peaks, I focus on my breath & repeat my self-prescribed mantra & calmness is usually restored.
My meditation set up is simple, just a yoga mat, candle & my happy buddha statue. Even though I am Christian in faith, I love many aspects of the buddhist culture.
So, what better way to "slow down" than to give meditation a try. If you want to go even deeper with your new meditation practice, try beginning with some simple yoga poses. Traditionally, meditation is preceded by yoga. Start your practice slow & watch the benefits grow!
Recently I had the honor of celebrating a dear friend out at Locavore Farm, an amazing farm to table dining experience. At each place setting was a rock with the words "slow down". Those words have stuck in my mind ever since.
My husband would argue that I don't need to "slow down" & instead should actually speed up. For example, I will never forget sharing a meal with him in our early years of dating, when he stared blankly across the table at me and asked "are you really going to eat one pea at a time." I thought that would be our demise, but it wasn't. We still laugh to this day about that! A more recent example was when he kindly kicked me out of the drivers seat saying, "I can get us home faster!" To that I will always say, "Ugh, what's the rush!"
In my mind, I feel that everything is constantly moving too fast! My mornings are, get up, get ready, get out the door, fast! My evenings are eat dinner, get ready for bed, get everything ready for the next day, fast! Life seems to be in constant motion with so many moving parts which is precisely why I am working on ways of getting it all done, but finding ways to "slow down" as well!
So, after the wonderful dining experience on Locavore Farm, we continued to "slow down" & enjoyed s'mores out my the campfire with some live music in the background. Life is fast-paced, let's all remember to "slow down" every now and then! Truly taste the s'mores, be soothed by the warmth of the fire, & listen to nature. I'll sign off with one of my favorite quotes from Ferris Beuller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."