Monday, March 29, 2010

Meditation simply

Over the past few months I have been reading and studying and listening to some amazing teachers.  I cannot say that this has not had a profound affect on me.  It has in so many ways.  One of those ways is the way that I meditate.  My previous mediation practice consisted of mediating for 10 or 15 minutes before or after my yoga practice.  So much has changed.

I have tried more ways to meditate in the past few months than I ever knew were possible.  I have meditated lying down, I have meditated on my knees and I have meditated in postures.  I have had my arms extended with palms up to the sky and held it for 11 minutes or more.  I have chanted the same verses over and over in my head or out loud for 20 minutes or more.  I have counted breaths and I have counted how many seconds my breaths take.  I have forced my breath in and out and various intervals and I have let my breath come naturally. 

I have discovered many things about my self.  One is that it is hard to meditate for 11 minutes or more with your arms extended without feeling some kind of pain afterward.  Second is that chanting Gayatri gives me a wicked sore throat the next morning (probably something I need to work on there).  Thirdly is that no matter how often I meditate I always find myself focusing on my third eye (ajna chakra) - again something I need to explore more.  Lastly, was that I think I really missed my old way of meditation. 

So for the next little while I have decided to meditate the old way.  I will follow my old ritual of lighting a candle next to my statue of Ganesha (the remover of obstacles).  Sit on my meditation pillow, close my eyes with my hands in my lap or in gyan mudra (helping to purify the mind).  Set my timer or not and meditate.  Allow my thoughts to pass or to have none at all and enjoy the simplicity of sitting.

I returned to this practice tonight.  My timer went off and I kept going for several minutes longer.  I feel clear and rejuvenated.  My hip and my back feel nice - the pain started to dissipate after a few minutes.  If history repeats itself I should have a restful nights sleep (not with standing Holly waking me to nurse).

I feel bliss!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Letting it out.

We had the second last week-end in the yoga teacher training that I am doing right now and a very strange thing happened to me today...  If you have read previous blog posts you may know that I have been dealing with some back issues from a car accident about 6 months ago.  It has been an uphill battle and I have not been feeling like I have been getting better.  This morning when I woke up my back was killing me, so much that I went to the pharmacy and picked up some good drugs, which I have still not taken yet.  I wanted them to help me rest and sleep tonight so that I could have a better week.  Then during our teacher training we started our opening practice and I was not able to do hardly anything.  Ahimsa, don't harm your self so I huddled up on my mat in child's pose.  OK great, then I felt my eyes stinging, I tried to will it away but they just wouldn't stop.  I then felt the drip drip of tears and saw the evidence on my mat.  Oh no, what if someone sees me crying was all I could think.  I promptly grabbed some kleenex, blew my nose and pretended I had a spec of dust under my contact.  Thought OK deep breaths now, that's all I need are deep breaths and it will all pass and no one will ever know.  Yeah right I had opened the flood gates and the tears got bigger and bigger and there were more.  Oh god what do I do know, I held steadfast in child's pose and tried to breath deeper hopefully when the practice is over it will all stop.  I took another tylenol, rubbed some arnica on my back and carried on.  I managed to wipe enough of the tears away that I just had that "great practice" look that some people have.  Who was I kidding.

It was time for us to break up into pairs and work on our inversions.  There was no way in hell I was working with anyone or doing inversions today (the first time I had opted out in 6 months).  I mentioned to my teacher that I was going to the washroom and would observe another group when I returned.  There were a few of us needing to use the washroom (very common after a yoga practice).  Three of us started talking, one of my yoga friends started crying, someone asked if I was OK and the flood gates continued.  I wiped them away, went to the washroom and tried to pull it together.  Then our teacher came in an asked what was going on since she had missed us, not in a "hey you guys what the hell are you doing?" high school kind of way, but more out of general concern.  Of course my tears started again, I got some more tissues but felt the pressure, oh god people know I am crying, oh god get me out of here - classic fight or flight!  No where to run, simple explanation - I am in physical pain and I am frustrated.  OK carry on - Hari Om right!

Back in the room I just could not seem to stop crying.  By now it was time for a break, class mates asking if I am OK offering me hugs you know the stuff.  Here is where it gets tricky for me.  For those who know me I am the cry alone kind of person.  I try to run away and be alone with my emotions.  It was everything in me today not to pack up my stuff and go home!  But I decided to let my emotions sit with me and see where it all went.  I got some lunch, and rested a bit.

After lunch it was time for more practice.  I thought here is a learning opportunity.  I can either sit and feel sorry for myself or I can carry on and do what I can.  So that is what I did.  I stood up in mountain while everyone practiced wonderfully beautiful postures and I leaned against the wall when I needed support.  I laid in savasana while others did shoulder stands and you know what, I was OK with that.  I was listening to my body and helping myself heal the best way I could.  I was still doing yoga, it was not vigorous, it was not fancy it just was.  "Now is the time for yoga."  I was not attached I was not where I was yesterday, nor where I will be tomorrow but I was where I was today, in the present listening to my body and where my body was here and now.  I was OK with it.

I was grateful to be in a space full of caring individuals, my peers and my teachers.  I did not feel smothered nor did I feel judged.  I felt as if this is where I was supposed to be, I was present in the best way I could be and I felt accepting of that condition. 

In this today I realized a few things.  One is that I need to try something else, the massage and chiropractic care are not really working - I need to try something new.  As well it is more than the physical, when I got home my pain level diminished immensely,  if I was an 8 during the day I was a 3 or 4 when I got home.  Certainly something to explore there.  I am not sure of what it means but at least I know there is something I need to do.  I shall focus my meditations on it this week and with diligence the answer shall present itself.  I firmly believe we all know the answers, we just need to look inside.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Self Reflection

Today was an amazing day.  I spent it with my three children, two of which are on March break.  We did some amazing things, took a long drive to visit a friend, went bowling and played outside in the sun, painted some t-shirts and had a lovely meal.

The friend that I spent the day with is going through some stuff.  She is spending a lot of time looking inside her soul and learning about who she really is.  Funny thing about this is that I am too, just in a different sort of way.  This makes me laugh a bit since I am practicing svadhyay, self reflection which is discussed in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra's.  I meditate, practice yoga postures, breath and ask myself who I am, occasionally journal and get to know my body.  Others in my life seek counseling, group therapy and talk talk talk it out.  Each of these ways is probably equally effective, the end result is probably the same.  We break old patterns, discover new things and even learn about old things.  I do wonder which one is more satisfying and which will "stick".

 I know an individual who saw the same therapist for about 6 years.  After the 6 years this person just stopped going.  Not because they were "well", not because they had "fixed" the problem but just because they didn't want to do it any more.  In those 6 years I never noticed any changes in this person and I am not sure that they did either.  They enjoyed the books that were recommended, they enjoyed having someone else to talk with and even the weekly outing wasn't so bad.   In my mind if you are paying that much money for therapy would you not want to have tasks to do, and would your friends and family not begin to notice changes about you, should it not be more than just conversation or books to read?  I guess that is where I find yoga more beneficial.  You have a task to do, if you follow the yoga sutra's you can get lots and lots of self  reflection and the tools to do it.  People absolutely notice changes in you and because of all the tools and self reflection you have no choice but to notice them too.  If you need someone to talk to, you have teachers and other practitioners.  Yoga is for life, it does not pretend to "fix" things or make you "well", but it can help you get there. 

I'm not saying that therapy is wrong or that it doesn't have a place, I just wonder... if more people practiced yoga, and I mean really practiced, reading, asana, pranayam and philosophy and many other facets that yoga has to offer - would therapy be necessary?  If yoga scientifically works to help cure disease (dis ease), calm the mind and the body, provide exercise and breath control, help elevate your mood and keep you relaxed and rested then would we need medications, psychiatrists and all these other things to help us?  I'm just asking the question.

Om Shanti