If you would like to increase your sense of being present, calm and here, right now, this amazing breath opens the energy flow in the spine. It unblocks the ida and the pingala, the two spirals that turn up and around the spine and then descend through the shushmana, the central spinal cord.
Sit comfortably, either in a chair with the spine vertical or on the floor, cross legged. Take your right hand and hold it up in front of your face, placing your right thumb under your right nostril. Your palm faces to the left, your fingers go straight up. Close your eyes. Inhale through the left nostril very slowly. Hold the breath at the top then take your right index finger and close the left nostril. Exhale slowly through the left nostril. Slowly inhale through the right nostril, hold at the top. Return your right thumb under your right nostril to block it and exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril very slowly. Hold the breath at the top then take your right index finger and close the left nostril. Exhale slowly through the left nostril. Slowly inhale through the right nostril, hold at the top. Return your right thumb under your right nostril to block it and exhale through the left nostril.
It is to be done slowly, inhale for 6 seconds, hold for 6 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds.
It is simple if you slow down and follow the instructions slowly and deliberately with eyes open for two or three rounds. You are making a U shape with the breath. This creates an incredibly calm sensation in the mind and body and brings you completely into the present moment. It is fantastic as a pre curser to any other practice like before yoga or running.
Things do not get simpler, what can change is how we deal with life, how we accept what is happening, how we process it all and how impersonal we can make it.
This last part may need clarity: We take things personally, we get upset and stressed. But most of what happens is not personally directed at us as a punishment, it is just life, it is just how things are, what is… resistance changes nothing and in fact can make it all a whole lot more unmanageable and painful both physically and emotionally. As the fabulous Stephen Levin says: “Hell is your resistance”. A sentence that I spent two years meditating upon.
An interesting way of sitting with this as a possible attitude to your reality is to stand still. Calm and peaceful.
(I find it easier outside as I feel as though I am more a part of the madness when I am outside of my calm and beautiful house and aware of the speed with which life screams past.)
Look at your feet and then take your attention up your instep, into your ankles, through the shins, knees and thigh muscles. Follow the energy up through the hips and into the main torso.
Around the centre of the chest is where the Soul is said to reside in the body.
Let your attention sit here for a while, becoming calm and still, open-hearted and present. Aware of sounds, sensations, perfumes and the pieces that want to pull you away from the present moment, but stay with yourself.
From this still and perfect place look out and let your self see life roaring past, fast, noisy, high speed and determined. But become conscious that you can stand there and refuse to attach yourself to any part of it. You can stand still, ware and awake, and let life and the dramas, stories, pain and intensity of it all fly past you without having to grab onto any part of it.
This awareness can be rather startling if it is your first time with it, but just keep breathing and take stock, take a distance and see that your need to attach to the dramas and grab them into you is what creates the dramas and pains that you are ultimately, endlessly trying to escape from.
Take a deep breath. Feel your feet and relax. But as you walk back into your life be aware that you attach yourself, nothing else does it for you.
This is a lovely meditation for energy. It brings an elevated feeling and always makes me smile and as the moon is full this Sunday at 17.48pm the timing is perfect.
When the moon centres in the hands are hit (along with the navel point being pulled and the tongue hitting the upper palate)it brings a clarity and reality. People are always striving to be energetic, to do more, to feel brighter, more alert. This meditation works the other way around; it eliminates fatigue.
Sit cross-legged on the floor or straight-spined on a chair. Bend the elbows down by your side and extend the forearms out in front so they are parrallel to the ground, palms facing up. Make the palms into loose fists with the thumbs on the outside.
Bring the sides of the hands together with a force and hit the fleshy area below the little fingers very forcefully. This is the area of the hand known as the moon centre. Chant Har (rolling the R) as you strike and then twist the hands away again, the rythmic motion is like making two bowls that touch when the moon centres meet. Quite fast, rythmic movement, pulling the navel as you chant Har.
Har is the creative sound of the Universe and builds a lot of heat and energy in the body. Aim for 9 minutes. At the end, inhale, hold the breath, eyes closed. Exhale, still with eyes closed and sit for a moment feeling the prana and energy inside yourself.
There are many meditations for all manner of challenges on the Kundalini Yoga DVDs on <www.devotion.co.uk>
Some easy, some not, all effective.
Healing the physical, mental & spiritual bodies
Instead of the savage pleasure taken by most in New Year’s Eve, try something new: A meditation for change and transformation. The sensation of being in the state of meditation as the year changes is a spectacular thing. The ethers open and a wonderful timelessness arrives. You literally float in the Heavens.
Use this time to shed limiting thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and memories. None of it serves. We need to be as free as we can to stand up to the next year. With no regret, no fear and without distraction. Use the pain on your shoulders as you work with this energy to burn off all your limiting structures.
I have chosen a wonderful meditation to do over this time:
Aim for 11 minutes, starting 6 minutes before midnight and carrying on for 5 minutes after.
Sit cross-legged with a straight spine. Use a pillow under the buttocks if that helps you to stay vertical. Chin in, chest out. Raise the right arm straight up so it is vertical and hugging your right ear, the palm of your hand faces forward, the fingers straight but split open, two each side of the split. Thumb at a right angle. Stretch your left are straight out to the left side, parallel to the ground, palm facing down, fingers split as on the other hand. Close your eyes and meditate.
This is an amazing and intense meditation. It will be challenging on the shoulders but use your breath, long and slow and mentally or out loud chant Wah Hey Guru to help you to keep going. When you need release from the shoulder discomfort lean forward rather than putting your arms down.
To finish, inhale deeply, hold your breath for 10 seconds as you stretch your arms and your entire body. Exhale and repeat the breath two more times.
This is good to go for 40 days. If you do take it up as a practice alternate your arms each day. So one day left out, the next right out.
This is the most powerful self purification you can do. It can give you complete control of your being. It improves intuition and makes you powerful and healthy.
We accumulate our life experiences as a blanket, a wall, a series of blocks or scars and in many other ways, carrying this with us into every interaction, expectation, experience and desire. We are moulded, good, bad, indifferent or exquisite, by all that we experience in our lives and how we
subsequently process those events then shapes and colours our continuous stream of present moments.
For some, life is like water moving through and around us, for others it becomes a scar that is frequently tripped over, for more, a drawing pin that holds us fast, stopping the sense of all freedom of choice.
Some of us who can see all of this within ourselves and are at different stages on the path of releasing, unravelling, letting go and climbing on top. Some of us are drowning under the weight of our perceived problems, some, many, of us are totally numb to it all. Life is just one big party and pass me the next drink/joint/line/purchase/ sugar hit etc. The wall is still ahead and will eventually be hit.
I have great affection for the wall when it is hit. So much pain so fast, but the raft of opportunity that is fallen upon is so very mind-blowing. Hitting the bottom, landing in the mud, fingers just grasping at the edge of the raft, is an awful experience, I know, and please do not think I am making light of it as an experience, but for all it’s trials, pains and agonies it is a Mantle of Grace that softly falls around our shoulders and gives us the ability to fly upwards into the light. To change, to transform, to finally see what is happening, to truly feel how divine our short time here can be.
There are names for this experience: The Dark Night of the Soul is the classic, but these are rarely referred to now as the chosen method of dealing with excess emotional pain is medication. “Numb me, please, I beg you. I cannot bear another moment of recognising how I really feel. “
The swathes of mind-numbing legal medications available are wild. The figures telling how many people are using the option means one must look around and think: Gosh, that is an army of people I know who are dead to their opportunities, options and experiences. Please do not think I make a judgement. I do not. I know how painful it can get and the amount of exercise, meditation, yoga, mantra, acceptance and letting go it takes to alleviate the agony is becoming a real adventure.
The past two years have seen an intense escalation in stress levels, fear, intensity and violence for all of us. What we have become inured to, in our daily life, is so sad: images that 3 years ago would have been unthinkable are now commonplace for 2 year olds to stare at from their prams. Nothing appears Sacred to the masses, life is cheap, the future is over and we stare at a Hollywood projection of what is to come believing that “they” must know because a celebrity is in it.
Fell peeled. It is what is happening. Feel raw. We are. We have been flayed by all that has passed these last few years; all boundaries are broken, nothing is as it was and it cannot return there. The innocence has gone.
The date changes in a week. 2010. All adjusts, all moves into another place. Personally I cannot imagine it will be easier but does it really have to be? Can it not just be what it is? An opportunity to hone ourselves, personally, to grow, to change, to move beyond the small confines of all that we decided we could do, of all that our experiences led us to think that we are capable of? We are each of us so much more than we think, believe or know.
Let’s dance with this next year. Spiral and spin into new realms of consciousness, let go of limiting beliefs about ourselves, swirl into the next year with a smile ready to catch all that is thrown at us and hold it with as much grace and acceptance as we can muster. Stand up and be original in thought and expression.
I do like this time of year: layered dressing, the drama of hats, shawls, boots and heavy jewellery. I long for the northern Lights and heavy snow. I suppose it is the extremes of the cold and the glowing embers in the fire, being warm inside and the freezing breath in the crispy mornings, the endless darkness and then the exquisite busts of low sunlight when the clouds part that brings such pleasure to a time that most seem to wish past.
The energy all around is low. The sap in plants and trees has descended, All the leaves have fallen, the longest night is on the 21st and from that moment it all starts ascending again. The spell of darkness is broken and a sense of renewal comes in. The lights of Christmas are linked to this whole cycle. The celebration of the whole seasonal movement starting again.
It is a good time to re-evaluate, to look over the past year and take stock. How was it? What happened? What can I change or do differently? What have I had enough of? What do I want to start to do?
For so many of us it has been an extreme year. A lot of stress, many people experiencing severe illness. There have been big changes in how we think and assume things ought to be and the joys of moving forward, in a world that seems to be drowning in mediocrity, are hard to list. Core values have been profoundly challenged and we have to find a new version of ourselves. This may not be true for all of us, I recognize that, but daily conversations all point to the majority of us feeling very similar; that there is a need to approach life in a different way.
So taking stock, an overview, is a good way forward; it is empowering and life-affirming. It feels pro-active and it is something that each of us can do for ourselves. The Global Warming Crisis so totally overwhelming, all the fighting and arguing is driving all confidence to an all-time low, it is easy to turn away in confusion but on an individual and personal level there is so much we can each do to affect our own environment and those immediately affected by us. Ever just calming ourselves with meditation, breathing techniques, taking up running or something that brings self-esteem, can have a great impact on other family members and friends.
My way forward is to make a list of the major events of the year, positive and negative. Really see what happened, how was it, how did I behave, react and respond. Honestly recognize where I could have done better and then move forward with a clear set of goals in the New Year. What do I want to achieve, change, make, do and see? The consciousness of where have I been and where am I going gives clarity and purpose. It may be time for major changes: stopping a habit, loosing weight, leaving a job or a relationship. If there is emotional honestly and a clear vision then the consequences are less of a shock and the path is easier to follow. I found one of my lists from 1991 whilst clearing this week. It made for interesting reading and I could remember so clearly how I felt and how much I moved on.
If you take no pleasure in the transition to the New Year try doing a meditation starting 6 minutes before the midnight hour approaches and for about 5 minutes after it passes. The experience is rather trippy and a nice change from the usual savage pleasure taken by most on this night. Time opens and there are interesting places in the ethers that become available. I will put up a meditation on the next newsletter if this is something that appeals.
In the broader scheme of things we are now entering the state that so many teachers have spoken about: the emergence of a new consciousness that is linked to the Age of Aquarius. That real power lies in the individual consciousness, not in hierarchical authority where it has been held until now.
It has been said that 150 years ago each of us would have absorbed, in our lifetime, as much information as is in a daily edition of the New York Times. We now do that as standard on a daily basis. We are each expanding hugely and on the way, the pain of being stretched can be profoundly unpleasant. This is what we are feeling now.
The best way that I have found to be in it all is to treat it as an adventure in open mindedness and abstract thinking. Then it becomes fun and challenging and my resistance melts.
My fascination with the stilling of the mind has taken many turns, some fruitful, others dead ends. I have also found that there are some practices that endure and others that fall away, but when re-found, are wonderful old friends.
I am, I am is an old friend. I use it a lot when teaching and showing how mean and relentless the mind can be. It is a mantra that is as old as the hills, ascribed to no religion or person, but states that “I am my soul” . This makes the mind crazy and in just two minutes one can clearly experience the insanity that most of us assume is normal reality.
It is easy to attempt, quick to experience and can take ages to master just two minutes. But once mastered can be expanded into an endless experience of utter bliss. You are relaxed, at peace, calm and slightly amazed at each ending of the experience.
How to: Sit comfortably. You can be on the tube, the bed, at the office. In the kitchen. (Not bed, it will not work lying down.) Eyes are closed, hands comfortable but not touching, in the lap or palms up on the knees. If you have a timer on your phone or similar, set it for two minutes. The mantra is just “I am, I am” repeated mentally, not out loud. Watch your mind. Keep the mantra repeating and refuse to go with any thoughts that try to hook you out. Keep coming back to the mantra each time you are pulled away. Mastery is when you see you have been distracted. Keep returning to the mantra and start to take distance and watch, like you would a puppy playing, the insane attempts of the mind to get you away from bliss and peace.
After two minutes take a deep breath, hold for a few seconds, release and relax your mind. Open your eyes and think about what just happened, what you witnessed, what you understood, and how challenging it was to keep just two minutes of focus on “I am, I am”.
1. The Minute breath: Sit comfortably, preferably with the eyes closed but it is not essential. Inhale 20 seconds, hold 20 seconds, exhale 20 seconds.
This focus on the breath and the length of the breath brings calm and peace as well as raising the oxygen levels in the body.
2. Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the body and puts us in a state of stress. Cheat by having decaff if it is the feeling of comfort that you like.
3. Sleep 8 hours a night minimum. A good long sleep allows the body time to repair and renew itself.
4. Take strenuous exercise 5 times a week. Swimming, walking and yoga are good options. This will elevate your hormone levels and your fitness level bringing a feeling of empowerment.
5. Eat lightly at night and preferably not 3 hours before bed. Eating late at night is very heavy on the body during sleep.
6. Laugh as much as possible. Try this for inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF4qii8S3gw
7. Massage your feet regularly. This grounds you. Use a light oil if you can, but in an emergency through your socks is fine. Use a gentle pressure to bring energy down into the body.
8. Have a shower first thing in the morning. It creates a sense of calm that clears out the system and elevates you.
9. Avoid watching or reading the News. The elevated stress hormones brought in by the images and projections make for a bad night’s sleep.
10. Have a hot bath with a few drops of Lavender in the water last thing at night. This will relax all of the body and aid restful sleep.
11. Try the Inner Smile. Imagine every organ of your body, one after the other, smiling
12. Focus your mind on a mantra when the going gets tough. Wah Hey Guru is a good one, it means “ecstasy through consciousness”.
13. Bring your attention to the present moment. Everything is always fine right now. It is the future that creates the internal drama.
14. If you wake up in the night use a mantra or prayer to stop traumatic thinking. Hand your stress over to whatever you believe in as a Higher Power. The Lord’s Prayer is good, so is the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference
15. Drink a glass of water to release emotional stress.
16. Make your tongue into a straw and sip long deep breaths through the straw. Exhale through your nose.
17. Up your intake of fresh, green vegetables and fruits. Reduce your levels of pre-made foods such as take-aways and sandwiches. Reduce your intake of red meat.
18. Stretch all of your body, particularly the spine, before breakfast each day.
19. Stop watching violent films and stop reading violent or depressing books.
20. Ask yourself, whilst feeling stressed, if your stressful thought pattern is helpful. The answer is no. Tell yourself it is safe to stop it, let it do and think differently. Bring in a positive thought.
21. When you feel overwhelmed sooth yourself by stepping into the stress related thoughts and saying soothing words like “Everything is fine, we are going to get through this, I can handle this, right now all is fine, I am taking care of it all and we will be fine”.
22. Become aware of your thinking. Separate from the labyrinth of your mind and watch your thoughts as you would watch a movie. Once you can see your thoughts as they arise you can catch and deal with the negative thinking. At first it may seem a little strange but it gets easier with practice.
23. Feel your body, the skin, the pressure of your feet on the floor, the sensitivity of your nervous system, the blood moving through your body. When you are totally aware of your physical body you cannot think. It is very relaxing and can be used as a meditation.
24. If the stress is overwhelming, find a place on your own and inhale deeply then make a loud screaming sound from your belly as you exhale. Three times is good.
25. Sing. Sing along with your favourite song, a mantra, an opera. Anything to get the lungs opened, the heart rate up, your body warmed and your mood lifted. If singing does it for you then think about joining a choir, a jazz club, an amateur opera or theatre company…
My experience over the last 8 years as a Kundalini Yoga teacher has been that many new students first entry into yoga is through pregnancy. Somehow there is a primal need for a connection, to the Divine, to the Universe, and seeking out a pregnancy class is the easiest way to make that link. Of course there are the physical reasons for doing yoga during pregnancy, but there are a raft of other opportunities for satisfying this, including Pilates and swimming. There is something about the idea of yoga that draws pregnant women.
I have taught yoga for A Conscious Pregnancy since 1998. Over the years the classes have transformed into a very fulfilling time for the women. They have led the changes by their needs, which are not for unusual positions, but for a safe place to talk, to express their deepest fears and insecurities. It has been a fascinating time, and many changes have occurred in me, my attitude and the way I teach. (I am also qualified as an Active Birth teacher so can explain all the technical stuff, but most women now do National Childbirth Trust classes, so they have little of this aspect of the teaching from me.)
I suppose it does not sound much like a yoga class at all, but there is a lot of yoga, quite strenuous yoga done in this time.
The word yoga means union, the union with your Soul. The Higher energy of the Universe, the Divine, God, is the groom and your soul is the bride. As the relationship takes place on this level, if it taken beyond the purely physical body stretches into a deep relationship between your soul and the Divine, then it makes sense that women who are carrying the next generation, who are moving through the everyday world with the soul of their child inside them, it makes sense that they need to talk. In yogic awareness of women and men in relation and especially before intimate relations, the woman always needs to talk, to express herself, to unload her unconscious mind. From there she is free and available. If we move this reality into the arena of the yoga class, the union then becomes a deep and fulfilling relationship. A real union, with the unnecessary cleared away, allowing the intimacy and soul connection to flourish. The result of this is a deeply satisfying 90 minutes, bathing the Mother in an awareness of her place in the world and the realms of the future that goes way beyond the needs of the 21st century and all its’ technology and allows for much more purpose in the pain of labour. It is time spent in teaching about the awareness she can bring to her pregnancy and going through the physical act of yoga to remove the blocks and resistances to this union. The meditation at the end becomes a powerful way to connect to the soul of the child, her soul and the grace and power of the universe.