via pinterest – calmdownnow.com
There’s a reason meditation is recommended as a tool for training a busy mind to become quiet. Because, if you give meditation a go and stick with it, like yoga, it works.
I’ve had a patchy history of the sticking-with-it part of the equation, although I have tried doing meditation on and off over the years. I discovered the path to becoming a meditator is long and winding, but savasana can be a key to open the door.
In an effort to make peace with my overactive mind, I did Vipassana meditation courses in the 1980’s.
Have you ever done one of these ten-day courses? They are conducted in complete silence. You do sitting meditation alternating with walking meditation, so it’s not too onerous for those of us who like to keep moving.
I didn’t think that the sitting would be challenging for me. My attitude was, hey, I’m a yogi. How hard can sitting for an hour at a time be? Possibly very hard!
It was true that I didn’t suffer as much physically as some people did from these sessions. I wasn’t expecting, though, that when the meditation room was quiet, my mind would go into overdrive. I’m sure there had always been a ruckus happening, but I hadn’t been listening so acutely before.
I was in a difficult relationship at the time. My mind would bounce around between thoughts of breaking up with him and planning on how to make up. Worse, without even being able to speak to any of the other meditators, I was having romantic fantasies about them.
Vipassana course leaders describe how meditators can go through a whole imaginary romance. In their minds, they get married, have kids, and divorce – all within the time-frame of the retreat. Or, the reverse might happen. A meditator could develop a whole story about why they have reason to dislike one or more fellow participants.
I completed the course, but didn’t continue doing Vipassana to any extent afterwards.
These days I do a yoga practice to help settle my mind. It’s called pratyahara – stilling the senses – and I do it in savasana, the yoga relaxation, or in a restorative pose. When I can relax, my mind loosens its grip, in a similar way to my muscles releasing their tension.
Of even more importance than the pleasant feeling of being relaxed is the potential that relaxation creates for harmonious relationships with others. When I’m relaxed, I’m more likely to notice when I get into a reactive state. There’s breathing space and mental space to see when I’m being defensive or offensive. You know, those times when we’re battling to be right, no matter if we really are, for instance.
I’m happy that I can now say that I’m a meditator. I found that mindfulness meditation, especially following the lead of audio recordings from Jon Kabat-Zinn, works for me. I love it!
Whether you are a yoga teacher or student, do include plenty of quiet time in your practice. Why? Here’s two reasons: 1.) Because it feels good, and 2) because we are more likely to drop our precious little egos and feel more at one with everything. Isn’t that the point?
Are you needing some direction for incorporating restorative poses in your yoga routine? Click here to see a YogaAnywhere practice card.