As promised…time for some action! I’m working on a video to share with you, which will be a whole yoga class for you to try, with the sequence, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation exercises specifically geared towards creating space for ingenious ideas to appear in your mind (in theory..). But for now, while the full-class-planning-and-video-logistics-working-out is unfolding slowly, I want to share a little something you can try. This is part of my own practice, and I’ve tried it out with a few willing minds who have also found some benefit in it. It’s not as physical as the full practice will be; it’s a simple meditation exercise.
As I’m not giving you any audio or video to work with this time (I’m sorry!), get familiar with the visualisation before you start, so that once you’re seated and settled you can start working with it without having to open your eyes and read and get all tangled up with words. So here it is:
Begin to let everything beyond the body fade away. Bring to mind the space you’re in for a moment – the details; shapes and colours, furniture nearby, the walls and the ceiling. And then let them go. As the ‘real’ space drops away, imagine a vast expansiveness opening up in every direction around you. Notice what colour the expansive space is – it could be any colour, let your brain decide – and then imagine it growing, stretching, in front of you and behind you, to your right and to your left, above you and below you. Allow the body to become light in this space – weightless. With every inhale the body becomes lighter. Keep working with this; when the mind wanders, gently come back to the space and the weightlessness – as if the body is floating effortlessly. Notice the breath, the warmth in the palms of the hands, and the coolness of the infinite space.
Before you start, find a time when you won’t be disturbed for half an hour or so. Make sure that you’re not too warm and not too cold. If possible, have a couple of yoga blocks or a nice firm cushion to sit on. And have a notepad and a pen in front of you.
Begin standing. Bring the feet together, and root down through the heels, the base of the big toe and the base of the little toe of each foot; think about drawing the ankles away from each other, so the arches in the feet are active. Allow the arms to rest at the sides of the body; gently draw in the abdomen so that the spine is supported and long. Close the eyes. Take a few moments here, notice the breath and really ground down through the feet, as if pushing down through the feet could make you taller.
And then have a little stretch – reach the arms up and interlace the fingers, and take a stretch to the right, and then to the left. Keep the eyes closed, feeling your way into the body; stretching one way on an exhale, inhale to come back to the centre, and exhale to stretch to the other side. Repeat this a few times, maybe stretching a little further each time (or maybe not!), and think of distributing the weight equally between the feet as the upper body moves.
When you feel ready, take a seat on the floor. Any seated position that works for you – and use blocks or your cushion to sit on; it’s best if the hips are higher than the knees when you’re sitting on the floor, so use props! If sitting on the floor causes you pain, use a chair; but sit forward on the chair if possible so that you sit tall rather than using a backrest, and keep the feet grounded on the floor.
When you’ve found the seated position that works for you, bring the palms of the hands to the knees (or if you have a mudra you like to work with, do). Settle in. Become aware of the breath entering and leaving the body. No need to control it or change it; just notice it. Spend a few minutes doing this – noticing any thoughts that come into the mind, too, but then gently bringing the awareness back to the breath each time something pulls you away. If you’re working on a particular project, you might want to bring it to mind for a minute or two now – no need to resolve anything, just allow it to sit in your thoughts for a little while before you bring the awareness back to the breath again.
When you’re settled, come to the visualisation written in green earlier in this post. When you’ve found a weightlessness in the space, breathe here for 5 or 10 minutes. When you feel ready, gently come back – find some small movements in the body, perhaps wiggling fingers and toes and swaying the torso from side to side. And then – in your own time – blink open the eyes and pick up the pen in front of you, and write down – or draw – whatever comes into your head. Any thoughts. Ideas. Worries, obstacles. Anything at all. If nothing comes up, enjoy that freedom from mind chatter for as long as you’d like.
You can try this once, or repeat it a few times in a row to see if you can go a little deeper each time. Take your time, and don’t worry if you can’t concentrate, or if nothing seems to happen. Building a meditation practice takes practise!
If you try it, please do let me know how you find it…experienced meditators and curious first timers alike! You can comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time…[this time in a fortnight!]