The purpose of practicing meditation is not to make you into a champion. When you practice correctly, it does not matter if you are the best or the worst. At times, our most difficult experiences can become our most valuable. Even if you feel that you are not good at meditation, you still benefit from your practice. Yoga tells us that there is no such things as failure. The perception that we have “failed” is a step forward because we do not make the same mistake again. Instead of feeling dejected.
Meditation shold occur naturally, as naturally as drinking water when you are thirsty or taking a nap when you are sleepy. Simply sit and try to experience the nothingness of it – just being – feeling empty, but complete.
Throughout your day, try to move freely – hold and move your body more naturally. Learn to be more circular in your movements, not stiff. You’ll feel lighter, freer, healthier; your circulation will improve and you’ll be happier person. Remember how you were carefree as a child? where did you lose it? Go back to your naturalness. Now, when we get into our postures, remember that same naturalness, that same free-flowing movement. Do not force it. Learn to relax into the posture.
As you get into your postures, try to flow freely. If you strain your body, you might have to wait before you feel like practicing again. Breathe deeply and close your mind to the outside world. Come into this moment, this experiencing, this breath.
Standing Hip Strengthener
Stand with your feel apart and your hands at your sides. Inhale and lift your arms out and to the sides. Turn your right foot out and turn your body in the same directions as that foot. Exhale and lower your body over your right leg. Bring your hands down on each side of your leg and try to bring your head to your knee. Keep your legs straight. Inhale and lift your body up. Turn your body and move your right foot forward. Repeat for the left side, lifting your arms, turning your left foot out and lowering your body over your left leg.
Toe Toucher’s Squat
Stand with your legs comfortably apart and interlace your fingers in front of your body. Inhale and push your interlaced fingers up to the sky, palms up, as high as you can.
Exhale and bend your body forward. Bring your interlaced fingers, palms to the floor, between your feet. Do not bend your legs. Inhale and raise your body up, and push your interlaced fingers up to the sky. Exhale and twist your body to the right. Bring your fingers, palms down, in front of your right toe. Keep your legs straight.
Inhale and push straight up to the sky. Twist to the right; exhale and lower your body down. Place your Interlaced fingers, palms down, in front of your right toe. Keep your legs straight. Inhale; lift your body up and push your palms to the sky. Exhale and relax your body down between your legs. Let your hand open and rest there for a moment. Let your head relax down to get circulation to that area. When you are ready to come up, simply inhale. Exhale gently as come to a standing position.
This is a nice, relaxing posture. Start in a standing position. Inhale and raise your arms out to your sides, as if you had giant wings. Exhale and bend your body forward, while lifting one leg up behind you. Support yourself. Pretend that you are bird standing on the leg. Try to be calm and relaxed. When you are ready to come up, simply inhale and let your arms fall to your sides. Repeat this posture by raising your other leg up behind you. Pretend that you are Jonathan Livingston Seagull coming in form a nice long flight. It will calm you.
Relaxation/Meditation: Sitting Relaxation
Since you won’t always be able to lie down to relax, it is good to know how you can relax in a sitting position. Begin with a few relaxing movements. Lace your fingers together and clasp them behind your neck. Push your neck and fingers against each other; hold and release your hands.
Interlace your fingers again, and press the palms of your hands against your forehead. Hold for a brief moment and release.
Interlace your fingers and place them on the back of your head; hold and release.
Raise your shoulders up and down a few times to release the tension. Inhale to breathe life into them and exhale as you release.
Reach upward with your arms and yawn. Sigh deeply as you lower your arms.
Close your eyes and make your body the following promise: “I am now going to relax. I will forget all tightness and tension – all fear, frustration, anger, and anxiety – and just be. “you might want to repeat this affirmation a few times until you truly believe it.
Keep your eyes closed and picture yourself sitting in the middle of a large wheat field. The wheat rises up all about you, even above your head. It totally, but comfortably, surrounds you. (pause.)
There is nothing but wheat for as far as you can see. A gentle breeze begins to blow across the field, and you can feel the wheat caressing you lovingly, brushing against you, back and forth, to one side and the other. You can feel the tall stems of wheat moving around you. It’s a very peaceful experience. (pause.)
Feeling more peaceful and more relaxed, you begin to let go a bit more. You begin to feel more at one with the surrounding wheat and, feeling relaxed and free, you begin to sway just a little from side to side, back and forth with the wheat. You and It, as one! Relax into the movement. (pause.)
Put all sense of duality aside. You feel more relaxed, free and joyful. You move without thinking, unrestricted. You move naturally – spontaneous and uninhibited. Continue to follow the movement of the wheat. (pause.)
You have released yourself to this experience. When you wish, lie back and stretch out in the soft wheat field. Let it gently cradle you and support you. Trust in the letting go. Trust enough to still feel the gentle movement of the wheat above you and sun smile upon you. Trust to be alone, but not lonely. Feel complete, just as you are at this moment, for indeed, you are. (pause.)
Our oneness with anything life comes from experience. In the previous relaxation exercise, our oneness with the wheat came by experiencing what it was like to move like the wheat, to be part of it. When we learn to experience all things as they are, we understand the greater whole. Assigning names to everything around us creates distinctions and separateness. For example, try not to think of God and You – you are It. Rest there for a moment. (pause.)
Leave your wheat field and come back to the room around you, your breath. Stretch gently, then fully. Twist, turn, and yawn. Most of all, keep thinking: “My body is relaxed and my mind is peaceful.”
The Essence of Meditation:
All things are complementary and interdependent, that is the yin and yang of life – the good and bad. Only after we sit in meditation do we realize that there is always a calmness within us. We find it in our stillness and silence. This peace allows us to discover our essence.
When we meditate, we need only three things: great faith, great doubt, and great determination. Great faith gives us the capacity to capture the inner self, our peace. We need great doubt, for we should not believe blindly. Finally, great determination helps us face obstacles and teaches us great self-discipline.
Some people sit for hours in meditation, while others sit for only ten minutes. It’s not how long you meditate that matters; rather, it is the quality of your meditation that is important. Through meditation you’ll discover who you are and your connection with everything around you. You’ll discover the harmony of the universe. You’ll learn that the unseen is more real that the seen; that the silence is more telling than the word; you’ll find that the experiencing is more precious than the knowing.
Close your eyes and quite yourself. Relax and release all the stress that you have accumulated throughout the day. Let it go and come into this moment of peace and silence.
Stand with your feet far apart. Inhale and lift your arms out to the sides. Exhale, as you twist your body and bend forward. Place your left hand on the floor, palm down, between and inline with both feet. As you lower your torso down, raise your right arm in the air. Both arms should be aligned and extended. Inhale and slowly raise your body back to a standing position with your arms extended out to the sides. Reverse the movement for the right side of your body. Remember not to place your hand in front of your feet and to keep your arms extended in a line. This posture gives you a good stretch. Your out stretched hands help you receive energy from both the sky and the earth.
Four-Limbed Stick Pose
This is a magnificent posture for developing your upper body, particularly your shoulders and wrists. However, it is difficult pose, especially for women. Lie flat on the floor on your stomach. Bring your palms up and place then down on the floor, under your shoulders – your elbows point to the ceiling. Inhale and lift your body straight up, in a straight line, like a stick. Lift yourself only three to four inches off the floor. The palms of your hands and your toes should be the only things touching the floor. Your body should remain absolutely straight. Within a few seconds you will become extremely warm. Hold and pose for as long as you comfortably can. Exhale and lower your body back to the floor.
This a great relaxing posture. Stand in a balanced position with your feet below your hips. Place your palms together at chest height and interlace your fingers. Inhale and push your arms upward as high as you can, palms facing the sky. Exhale and bend your knees slightly. With a long swoosh of breath, release your arms out to the sides and down in front of your abdomen. Interlace your fingers one more time with your palms upward. Inhale and raise your palms to chin level. Exhale while you bend your knees. Turn your palms down, bend forward, and press your palms to the floor. Inhale and raise your body up – arms over your head and palms facing upward. Repeat this movement three times. As you raise your body for the third time, your arms finish outstretched in front of you at shoulder height. Exhale and raise your arms to the sides at shoulder height. Lower your arms and let them cross each other over your abdomen. Finally, bring them back to your sides. Each exhalation should be a big, long swoosh of the breath.
Relaxation/Meditation: Complete Pause
As I have mentioned earlier, it’s important to push and move our bodies, and to pause and become still. The following relaxation focuses on pausing to our fullest extent.
Begin by relaxing your body on the floor – centered and released. Your feet fall out gently to the sides, and your palms face upward. Your head and neck are relaxed on the floor. Your breathing is smooth and rhythmic.
For a moment think back to how you rushed around all you, hurrying and getting frustrated at having to wait in line at the checkout counter or in traffic. Our days and our life are often stressful, and we must learn to handle these situations. We have to learn to pause. A true pause has no time – it just is. With your eyes closed, picture a large calendar in front of you. (pause.)
With a big pencil, cross off every date. (pause.)
Take it one step further, and tear the calendar up and toss the pieces in the air! (pause.)
Now, picture a huge clock in front of you. Mentally remove the hands and toss them in the air.