YogaMaYam

This site is for learning and sharing about Yoga. Topics include teaching, asana, meditation and a nurturing forum for questions about your Yoga practice.

Holiday and New Year Recipe for Meditation Practice

Written by:
Ananda Prema Shakti (Felicia Case)
©EarthStar Publishing, Inc.

Looking at the twinkling snowy home above, it is easy to feel frustrated, and wonder why our society is so hustle-bustle, and why we all don’t have the opportunity to live a life that is more in line, and closer to Nature. We look at the scene above and long for a gentle falling snow and to experience a more cozy, secure, satisfied and simple life. What can we do to create more of this lifestyle in our world today? … The master teachers would say that all change begins with a single intentional thought, purpose, and action. So often we have an intention … (we will pay off debt, get healthier and eat better, start meditating, sell the house, downsize, or move to a different place), and we fuel it with some purpose … (we’ll be less stressed, we’ll feel better about our bodies and our health, we’ll move forward in our Yoga practice, life will be more enjoyable, and change will keep things fresh). Then the day-to-day push of life seems to overtake our new intentions and before we know it, another year has passed, and we are looking back once again over our lives and wondering why things have stayed pretty much, the same.

Somewhere between intentional thought, purpose and action, it is easy to fall short of rooting the dream and fall back into samskaras, those predictable ‘worn grooves’ of the phonograph record of our minds’. The needle keeps sliding into the deepest worn grooves (those most repeated and defeating mindsets, scripts, and memories) and we will grow more and more repetitive, limited and predictable over time if we’re not careful.

A Yoga practice consisting of a healthy lifestyle and habits: (Yamas and Niyamas – Limbs 1 and 2), of Asana (postures – Limb 3), of breathing exercises (Pranayama – Limb 4), of simplifying and cutting out outside inputs like TV, phone and text and computer time, crowds, talk and work (Pratyahara – Limb 5), of concentrating and observing our samskaras and the repeated scripts of our minds and thoughts and moods (Limb 6 – Dharana), sitting to pray and then meditating and exploring our inner landscape of spiritual self (Meditation – Limb 7 – Dhyana) and the peace that brings loss of desires and overstriving into a sense of joyful contentment (Bliss – Limb 8 – Samadhi).

If you are sitting at your computer in December and January, and you’d like to light your fire of Yoga which will help lead to being able to change old habits and bring about new rootedness in our intentions to pave a way for a new life, try the prescription below. I too set the intention to practice with you. Read the article that follows about meditation. Study. and let it all begin with just one thing.

Thank you all for sharing on this special path of Yoga. Many Blessings to you and your families. Namaste.

Recipe for an authentic meditation practice:

Complete 2-4 rounds of sun salutation
– Sit in a comfortable seated position (ladies left foot in closest, men, the right)
– Palms up in daytime meditation, palms down in nightime. Press inside of wrists (or back of wrists) against the knees. Press thumb and finger to form a circle, the mudra of uniting self with God.
– Breathe the ujayi breath (all nostril, tongue soft in the roof of the mouth … sounds like the ebb and flow of the sea)
– Spine is erect, yet also soft. Sitting bones are weighted part of your body. Be as a buoy riding on the waves of the sea. The body in meditation is buoyant, not a statue of stone.
– Take about 10-30 breaths of fire to reset the parasympathetic nervous system.
– 8 rounds of alternate nostril breathing (with retention if learned and practiced)
– Hands then to Anjali Mudra — surrendering with a seal at the heart. (This is a very important step in seated meditation as esoterically, this triangular seal from the anahata pointing up, serves to stabilize prana and the kundalini spiritual energy. Anjali mudra does similar work like the ballast of a sailboat, or the horizontal and vertical stabilizers of an airplane.  It is physics and will help energy stabilize and move in a straighter path. Additionally, the safest and best place to reside is in the heart)
– Pray. Give Thanks.
– Nostril breathe as if sleepingm stretching out and slowing the breath and prana. Let the breath breathe you.
Hear the nostril breath of sleep, focusing on the breath and perhaps repeat a word or phrase (mantra, or prayer) silently in the mind’s voice which is most subtle.
– Sit with silence, or flute music, a candle — whatever helps to bring single-pointed concentration.
– Surrender and observe with relaxed detachment what you, your mind, your body, your spirit is experiencing.

Mysteries of Meditation

The twilight state just before sleep is Alpha, and actually is a form of a trance state, which enters the portal of meditation. Now why is it that researchers called the first level beta (Greek for the letter B) and the second, more relaxed state alpha (Greek for the letter A)? Because the early EEG machines only registered brain waves once the person relaxed!!!! When you relax, the mind actually becomes more powerful. The relaxed, more powerful mind is emitting higher levels of electromagnetic currents. Thus, alpha was the level discovered first.

Thinking in terms of Yoga asana, the more relaxed we are as we move into postures, the more powerful and advanced our postures become. Arm balances for instance, should possess the perfect blend of sthira and sukka, being both strong and solid and yet soft and comfortable. Our advanced practice of asana is actually about over time, participating during class in higher states of awareness such as the alpha state. That is what is meant by taking our asana practice into a state of active, flowing meditation.

The alpha state also ties in with trying to find that balance between ‘holding’ the body rigidly and collapsing. One of the highest intentions of the 8-limbed practice of yoga is to learn to relax the body, mind and spirit so that higher states of consciousness and latent, dormant spiritual energy can mature. If we think of the elements, the strongest is WATER, yet interestingly enough, it is the softest. This is an irrevocable truth and one of the wondrous mysteries of nature.

The more we immerse ourselves deliberately and consciously into alpha and theta, the more we access our higher potential and can actually aid in manifestation of our needs and desires. If we practice visualization producing alpha/trance will increase the likelihood that we will manifest what we desire. Ever wonder why some people seem to express a desire, and then boom, it seems to happen? Why? because the brain of that person literally sends its request out with more force due to their state of relaxation in single pointed concentration. (Mental counter-energy of Yoga). It’s not mysterious at all. One secret to entering into alpha state quickly is through practice of the shambhavi mudra. You can roll your eyes up to look towards your third eye and the brain starts generating alpha waves. (Note: This is nothing to play around with, however, and is to be undertaken gradually and not overdone.)

Another way to move into alpha is how we do in Yoga class when we are in seated and take a deep breath in, hold it, and exhale even longer than the held/retention, … alpha then starts to flow. A longer exhale releases deep tension in the body and relaxes muscles and the nervous system and takes us into the alpha state.

Another aspect of entering into alpha is about concentrating on an object, such as the sound of a flute, repeating in our minds our mantra, visualizing a color, a pattern or candle flame, or yantra… until finally letting it go dissolves the mind traffic of thoughts into pure awareness as we do in Savasana.

That is why the ambrosia hour just proceeding and during sunrise is so powerful. This is a natural alpha into delta state. What’s more, this state refreshes all the senses, and improves overall health. We become more intelligent. We are able to grasp concepts that once eluded us. These fruits of practice are often referred to as ‘siddhis.’ Yoga is the ancient technology to produce this, to access higher states of mind. Simply learn a technique from a master… then practice it.  It is that simple.

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