Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bring it to the mat, and let it go

There are so many reasons why there isn't enough time to practice, or to get to even that 15 minute meditation practice or maybe even to cook your own vegetables rather than just order out or make that phone call. But all these reasons can be brought right along with you to the mat or the cushion, that's right, just bring 'em along. Left hip feeling cranky? Didn't sleep well? Have to be somewhere else later? Spent a little too much time on the computer? Feel low energy now? Didn't finish something for work that needs doing? Hungry? Can't seem to think clearly about what's next, even what to eat or what to do?

Whatever it is, plop it down with you in a comfortable cross-legged position -- or some other posture that allows you to breathe fully and relax your spine in a fairly effortless spacious alignment. This won't take long, and if you allow yourself to fully participate in the moment, you may find it clarifies you, energizes you, relaxes you, and may even help you get something done that you hadn't thought would fit into this day.

Cushion and perhaps elevate your sitting bones, and let yourself arrive on the mat/cushion. Let go of your knees, they won't slide away, prop them up if your inner groin flexors are feeling too tight. Just relax your tailbone slightly and feel your deep abdominal muscles gently pull inward and up towards your spine. Let go of the idea that you need to use a lot of muscular effort here, and give yourself a chance to feel that natural cycle of energy, that inner balance that keeps you able to sit up. Allow yourself to notice your inhale, just notice where it is and any texture to it. Exhaling, let go a bit of that tension in your shoulders. Maybe let your jaw hang a little looser. Notice this inhale, and see if it is responding to your attention. Perhaps softening your belly and letting the breath fill in, gradually pulling in those deep muscles at the base of the exhale to really empty out any stale breath. Feel your spine in your neck elongate as your shoulders relax. No need to rush. Let the inhales and exhales take their time. If you find you naturally pause at the beginnings or ends of breathing in and out, well, allow that to be interesting.

You are already well on your way to resolving your conflicts, cultivating your attentiveness, focusing your energy, and lifting your spirits. You can move your body along with the breath and take a little Asana practice - warming up your spine, moving your shoulder and hip joints, loosening and re-connecting the energy channels all the way to your toes, and wrapping around your skull. Or, you can continue to sit, letting the breath quiet, allowing the mind to focus on a single point, perhaps the sound of Om, or turn your inner gaze to a particular point like the part of your forehead between your eyebrows, or hold another object in mind like a blooming lotus flower. Another strategy is to simply clear the mind by labeling whatever arises in it -- calling a thought "thinking," labeling any emotions that arise "feeling," etc. without attaching. Even 15 minutes of moving through a short Asana practice or a sitting meditation will do so much to bring you into this moment, reducing all the layers of reaction and emotion attached to your excuses for not going to the mat.

Any one can be convinced that they are too busy to give themselves what they need. It need not be you. Come on, bring your excuses along and do a little yoga.

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