It is important to meditate with the present moment in sight. If we meditate with only the future in mind, to improve our character, to be more efficient, to guarantee some future happiness, we miss the whole point of the now.
Meditation is the discovery the point of light that is the now. Now is the only reality that there is. The past and future are not real. Like music or dance, meditation has no ulterior reason or purpose. Musicians play music for the experience within playing, not to reach a certain point at the end of the scale. We dance for the movements we feel within the dance itself, not to arrive at particular place on the floor. The same is true with meditation. Meditation can not be forced. We relax into meditation and open ourselves into that particular state of mind.
Meditation is not as much as seeking as an experiencing followed by a very quiet but assured knowing. It is seeing without sight, hearing without sound, and touching without movement. When we reach this level of consciousness, we discover our essence. When we meditate, we simply learn to open our heart. All you need to do is open your heart to truth.
To sit quietly and just let it happen, to just be – that sounds pretty simple. And yet, it’s one of the most difficult things to do, because of the mind. The mind keeps interrupting us with its chatter. Just observe it and go back to your breathing. Remember that when we go into meditation, we do not force it, we allow it to happen.
When you are doing your postures, remember, you are not in a competition with others. But you are in a competition between your body and your mind, and the goal is to bring them out of competition and into harmony. Perfection in postures is not a physical practice; it is a mental practice. It is the will to do, the power of concentration, the devotional attitude. Each body structure is different, so the result will be different.
Take a standing position with your palms together in front of your chest. Turn your palms so that they face away from each other. Inhale and push your left hand to the sky with your palm facing upward and follow it with your eyes. Push your right hand down to your side with your palm facing downward toward the earth. Push with equal strength up and down at the same time. Hold this posture for a few seconds. Exhale and bring both hands back to the center in front of your eyes. Switch hands. Your palms should rub against each other as they pass by one another. Inhale and push your right hand up to the sky, palm upward. Your left hand pushes down the earth, palm downward. Exhale and return to center. Practice this rotation three times on each side; Your eyes should always follow the upward-facing hand. When the rotation is complete bring your palms to the center in front of your face and cross your hands in one direction, then the other. Let your palms separate, and lower your arms to your side. Relax, this pose brings balance to your body.
Forward Swing Breath
Take a standing position and swing forward, lowering your body to the floor. Walk forward on your hands and lift one leg up behind you in the air as high as you comfortably can. Move your body up and down on your supporting foot. Do not try to use your knee to raise your body; the idea is to strengthen your feet muscles.
Kneel upright on the floor. Bend forward and put your forearms on the floor in front of you. Cross your left foot over your right leg behind you. Reach behind with your right hand and take hold of your left foot. Inhale and put your left foot and leg up as high as you comfortably can toward the ceiling. Your body should be supported by your right knee and your left arm. Hold this posture for as long as it is comfortable. Exhale and lower your left leg, and return to your starting position. Repeat the posture by raising the right leg with your left hand in the same manner. This posture is a great stretch in the morning.
Just as your body’s movement are influenced by our state of mind, our state of mind is influenced by our body’s movements. Our body responds to thought. If you are depressed, it might be reflected in your slouched body and your lowered head. If you become joyful, your body straightens up and you raise your head. When you are practicing your postures and you think that you have reached your limit, try telling yourself to relax. You will find that your body will respond and will take you a little bit further.
Stretch out on the floor and say to yourself: “This is my time to relax. I will let go completely.” Say it to yourself again and again and really mean it. With each exhalation sink further and further down into restfulness.
Although as beginners we are not yet accomplished in letting go, there are methods to help us on our path to relaxation. One of these, know as “tense and relax,” allows us to become fully aware of the tension in our body, even when it may feel relaxed. In this practice, we intentionally tighten and relax each part of our body.
Close your eyes and relax your body. Begin with your feet. Inhale and tighten your toes, soles, heels, and ankles. Feel the tension in all your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Exhale and concentrate on your feet becoming loose and limp. Feel your tension release, and experience total relaxation. Try it now.
Try this exercise on your entire body. Always tighten on your inhalation and release with your exhalation. Practice on your feet one more time. (pause.)
- Move on to your calves-inhale and tighten; exhale and release. (pause.)
- Inhale to tighten your thighs and exhale to release. (pause.)
- Inhale and tighten your buttocks; exhale and release. (pause.)
- Inhale and tighten your lower back area. Exhale and release all your muscles. (pause.)
- Move on to your hands. Inhale and tighten; exhale and release. (pause.)
- Inhale to tighten your arms; exhale and release. (pause.)
- Inhale and tighten your neck and shoulders; exhale and release. (pause.)
Inhale deeply and try to tighten or stiffen your entire body. On a full exhale, feel all the tightness and tension leaving every part of your body; feel it drain out and away. Picture and feel your body totally relaxed. Your body is lighter, freer, rested, content. You feel lighter, freer, alive.
Do not forget to adjust your head comfortably to the floor, with your jaws and eyes relaxed. If you are having trouble in either area, slowly open and close them a few times. Yawn, if you feel like it, and let your eyelids grow very heavy until you no longer feel like opening them.
Your exhalation takes away all tensions, frustration, fright, anger and anxiety. It leaves you feeling calm, relaxed, and revived. By following your breath, you have found your peace and pleasure, your alignment to life. You are in the moment – this moment, this now, this experience. Try to practice this relaxation exercise during the day when things begin to pile up; pause and bring yourself back to the present moment and the pleasure of your breath.
Gently stretch yourself back to this moment of awareness by stretching your toes and wiggling your feet. Stretch your legs and half-twist your upper body. Pause and give yourself a positive thought: “My body is relaxed and my mind is peaceful.” More into your full stretch and yawn. Take a smile with you.
When you are having a bad day, honestly ask yourself why you are unhappy and honestly listen to your answer. No one can make you angry unless you let them – unless you forget who you really are.
Try one or all of the following suggestions:
- Practice your postures. A feeling of health and vitality and release will ease away your tension.
- Sit and breathe deeply. Nothing is more relaxing or more peaceful.
- Get out into nature, even if it’s only sitting outside to watch the leaves blow. Listen to the crickets or take a walk. We are part of nature. Sometimes, one of our biggest mistakes is thinking that we are separated from nature. By reestablishing your connection with nature, you can also find your peace.
- Forget about yourself for a moment and do something for someone else. It’s been scientifically proven that those who extend themselves to others are happier individuals and live longer.
- Make a list of positive and negative sides of the situation. Be grateful that the list of good things is generally longer than the list of bad things.
- Always remind yourself who and what you are. When you are lonely, upset, unhappy, or depressed, you’ve forgotten who you really are. you are whole person-precious and perfect at this moment.
In a kneeling position, stretch your left leg out to your side, while keeping your left leg and left foot turned to the side. Your arms are by your sides. Inhale and lift your arms up parallel to the floor. Exhale and bend your body to the side over your extended left leg. Inhale and lift your body up. Exhale and lower your arms back to the sides. Return your left legs to its original kneeling position and extend your right leg. Again, inhale and lift your arms up to the sides; exhale and bend your body to the side over the extended right leg. Inhale and lift your body up; exhale and lower your arms.
In a kneeling position, extend your left leg out to the side, with your left leg and foot turned to the side. Inhale and lift your arms up. Twist at the waist and face your extended left leg. Raise the toes of your left foot straight up. Try to reach for your toe with both hands and bend your head down your knee. Inhale and raise your body up; twist to face forward. Exhale and lower your arms. Repeat this movement for your right side.
Lie on your right side and support your head with your right hand. Your left arm is stretched out along your body, as though you were relaxing on your side at the beach. Inhale and lift your left
leg straight up. Exhale and lower your leg down in front of you and bring your left toe as close to shoulder level as you comfortably can. You can place your left arm in front of your abdomen to give you a little more balance and support. Try to keep your leg straight. Inhale and raise your left leg up Exhale and lower it down to its original position. Repeat this movement three times on your right side. Turn to lie on your left side, raise your right leg on your inhalation and lower it on your exhalation. Repeat three times on your left side.
To truly relax is to pause – to bring everything around and about us to a standstill, to a great silent pause.
Just as nature pauses in its autumn and the bird pauses on the limb, we too must pause, turn off, and tune in. It begins with a single thought: “I am going to let go!” This experience allows us to discover the essence of ourselves and realize that we are complete. It leads us further into precious peace.
Lie down in a centered position – your body comfortable on the floor. It is always important to make sure that your body is comfortable so that it does not disturb your meditation. Release and relax with your eyes closed, and rid yourself of all tightness, tension, and restrictions.