“Your mind can be compared to a glass of muddy water. If you let the glass stand for a long time, the mud will settle at the bottom of the glass and the water will become fairly clear. So when you sit down for a while to concentrate, your mind is muddy with restless thoughts. But if you sit long enough, repeatedly bringing the wandering mind back to the practice of meditation, you will see that all thoughts settle down; and in that stillness you will feel superconsciousness.” — Paramahansa Yogananda
Our minds are filled with muddy impressions of who we think we should be. We absorb distorted beliefs, like detritus, and allow them to influence us. A lot of times we even define ourselves by this garbage without thinking clearly.
Today I am introducing what may be the most effective concentration/meditation technique that I have encountered in my training and practice. It frequently helps to remove the attachments and fluctuations from my mind so that I can focus on my breath and generate positive energy.
The technique is called Hong Sau – a name that originates from the Sanskrit word Hamsa which means Holy Gander (that migrates back to its spiritual home). Its concept is symbolic. Geese migrate or wander; yet no matter how far they fly from home, they always return. Like the gander, we strive to migrate back to our higher self or spiritual nest so that we may experience joy and contentment. Continue reading “Migrate Back to Your Spiritual Nest”→
It’s amazing how just 6-8 minutes of breathing/meditating per day can change your entire system.
This week, I reviewed my average resting heart rate (this is why I purchased and wear a Fit Bit). It was no surprise that I found it to be significantly lower over these past two weeks. I am pretty certain that this can be attributed to my daily breathing/meditation routine and the fact that I am drinking more water. Taking in 6-8 glasses of water each day has been a difficult challenge. I have never been a big water drinker. But, the endeavor has had such dramatic and immediate effects on my overall health that I am sticking with it. My skin is less dry, I am digesting foods more easily and my mental state has been especially peaceful.
So now, I’m on to the final week of my July Challenge. This week’s plan will be similar to last week’s with the addition of a technique I am calling, “Enjoy the Stillness”.
5.) Enjoy the Stillness – merely remain in the moment and see what surfaces.
Starting this week, I will also be adding an evening ritual called tarka.
What’s tarka, you ask?
Tarka is the practice of self-reflection. It’s to be done at the end of each day.
Before sleeping, preform the resurrection breath (see above) and sit/lie quietly with your eyes closed. Take a few moments to review what has been meaningful, unusual, or challenging in your day. In general, consider what you have learned about yourself.
Tip: Formalize your tarka practice by setting up a spiritual journal. Record your observations each week – Sundays are good reflection days for me. Practicing with ahimsa and satya, be honest with yourself. What have been your greatest challenges and how have you handled them?
Throughout our lives we are subjected to impressions of who we think we should be. We absorb these distorted beliefs and allow them to influence us. A lot of times we even define ourselves by them. Why do we do this?
Because our minds are quick. They receive stimuli and respond immediately. When we instantly react to situations, we are functioning on a purely emotional level. Usually these responses come from a place of fear or conditioning – from sources that are generated outside ourselves. In order to recognize the truth of who we are, we need to provide time and space for inner reflection.
So, when a feeling rushes in, take a moment to observe what has come into your mind. Is this thought really accurate? Is it who you are? This is the first step toward connecting with your authentic spirit.
To gain space for true perception, you’ll need to release those random thought patterns. The ones that spring out of emotion-based thinking. A simple way to remove “mind banter” is to use the technique called Neti, Neti, Neti.
Sit quietly and focus on the space between your eyebrows. Attempt to clear your mind. This will be a challenge as thoughts will definitely arise. When they do, silently chant the words: Neti, Neti Neti.
The first Neti means “I am not this thought”, the second Neti signifies, “I am not this thought that is thinking I am not this thought” and the last Neti points out that, “I am not thought at all.”
Practicing the method on a regular basis will give your mind the opportunity to empty. Clear space will then enable new thoughts to arise, thoughts that give way to the true You that is within.
If you’d like to begin building a steady meditation practice, join me on my July Challenge.
As the summer solstice approaches, now is the perfect time for seeking solitude for yourself. Periodically remaining quiet increases your awareness and lets your mind rest.
Your challenge this week will be to receive solitude by spending time alone each day. Walking in nature or watching the sunset or sunrise are good ways to soak up some solo time. Also, consider your speech and how much you talk. Curtail your urge to speak a bit this week to bring more reflection and centeredness into your life.
Or, you can choose to be in solitude with others by practicing the concept of mouna or silence. A good time for this is just prior to or following a meal. Another effective time is the first thing in the morning or the last thing before sleeping. If you live with others, make this “silent time” a period for eliminating the television, computer, or any other device that produces sound. For 10-15 minutes (and ear buds plugged in do not count), try to keep the silence with reading, drawing or writing. Eventually, slowly phase out these activities and find a comfortable place to just be still together. During this time, consider your thoughts and observe what surfaces. This is a great prelude to meditation.
Performed on a regular basis, mouna becomes an important tool for generating increased awareness. The yama of asteya or non-stealing in the form of words, can also be a consideration for keeping the virtue of silence. When you practice silence, your thoughts become quieter, and, ultimately, you will find that you are able to pacify your emotions and soften your personality.
On this the new moon, I would like to introduce you to a process for going within, for moving from your outer world to your inner world.
It is the ultimate quieting technique called the Ritual of the Moon. And it goes hand in hand with our quest for clarity. This technique will release your mind and your body thoroughly so that you can move into the lunar world. Begin the process an hour or so before you would like to go to bed.
Ritual of the Moon
Sit somewhere quiet and reflect on your day. Rethink what has occurred and release any emotional tensions that may have been created. Apply wisdom and compassion as you see yourself as you truly are. Without harming thoughts, re-balance yourself.
Prepare your body for sleeping: take a bath, practice restorative yoga, listen to meditative music or just sit & breathe.
Fall asleep as slowly as possible. This sounds tricky, I know. But the idea is to maintain your self-awareness as you descend into sleep. This won’t happen if you stay up too late and fall into bed exhausted.
As you perform the ritual each night this week, journal your thoughts and feelings. You are learning to form a more meditative mind. One that will cultivate great self-awareness and much health and happiness.
I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster As you might try a jewel in your hair. I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster, Alone, or in one ornament combining With one first-water start almost shining.
I put it shining anywhere I please. By walking slowly on some evening later, I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees, And brought it over glossy water, greater, And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow, The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.