Thursday, 20 October 2011

Outreach Yoga Challenge - Day 10 Meditation tips

Can I get an OOOuuummMMMMM???????

The Logic of Placing the Mind on the Breath can be confusing if you are new to meditation or are just wanting to find some stillness in your everyday life, and quieten the monkey mind.  You will find will simple practice the benefits of quietening the mind are so valuable. Shambhala gives these tips and handy tools for practicing:
-          The mind is always meditating and placing itself on something, have you ever tried juggling and trying to think about something else? Its easy to focus on one thing, try it!

-          Usually we take ‘me’ (habitual, discursive mind) as the object, the ego always tries to butt in

-          In Meditation we rest mind in the present by placing it on the breath, simply breathe and count the breath in your head if necessary

-          We can notice our thoughts, but let them go, and continually return to the breathing

-          It does not matter if the thoughts are good or bad, just don’t get caught up in them

-          We switch allegiance from the bewildered mind to the stable, clear, and strong mind

-          We learn to rest in peace, and we can become familiar with basic goodness

Advice: Create a decent time and space for practice that will work in your life. Decide how long you are going to practice for and stick to that period of time Be realistic and honest, and know that there will be periods of time that are more or less busy in your life. Don’t lose heart! The key to a successful practice is consistency. if you are practicing Yoga you can combine these together in one practice session, I find this much more efficient and you can start with 5 minutes before your yoga practice and end with 5 minutes. The way to be consistent is to enjoy the practice J
Mindfulness in everything we do, eat with mindfulness, practice yoga with mindfulness, be present with your mind in everything you do. You can practice by walking up your stairs or brushing your teeth and consciously feeling every step up the stairs realising which foot you lift me how your toes hit the carpet and then heel, just try being mindful in everything you do and see what happens.

-          Familiarity – we know what the breath is and can mindfully breathe

-          Remember – we remember the breath, just like we remember our own face. Remember the fullness of the breath, the simplicity of the present

-          Non-distraction – even though thoughts arise, we stay with the breathing in a gentle fluid way
Awareness: Here, awareness means, ‘presently knowing’ We know what is happening in our present experience. We know when we wander, and we know when we are present.  Awareness simply notices and reminds us to apply mindfulness.
Obstacles and Antidotes:
-          Laziness, and this can be ordinary laziness, or speedy busy-ness and procrastination, or disheartenment. ANTIDOTES: Trust, aspiration, effort, suppleness. Do some Yoga, have a cuppa tea, open the window and breathe the fresh air, take a walk in nature.

-          Forgetting the instructions. ANTIDOTES: Remember the instructions! Breathe, count your breath, sit on a cushion crossed legged, or in a comfy seated pose, back straight. Clear your thoughts and be present.

-          Laxity: mind is sunken in, or Elation: mind is agitated and moving out. ANTIDOTES: Not too tight, not too loose. Apply awareness, ENJOY YOUR LIFE!

Using meditation in everyday life can bring calm and love back to your full life, connecting with our inherently open mind. When a person interrupts us, we can be patient instead of angry. When something doesn’t go the way planned, can we entertain equanimity instead of self pity and disappointment? Instead of manipulating a situation to work out for ‘me’ can we be generous, and see the bigger picture? Can we let strength, beauty, compassion, and inconceivable sharpness of mind rise to the top of our day instead of always having the last word?

When we encounter other people, we can let our ‘Buddha’ qualities shine though, instead of complaining and crying, we can laugh and offer kind words. Everytime we employ the qualities of generosity, patience and equanimity, we are making our mind bigger and convincing ourselves of our own ‘buddhahood’. That may be driving the car, getting a cuppa, shaking hands with strangers, at your next yoga class.
Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we can let our light shine through.

School today was its usual FULL ON MEGA INTENSE INFORMATION. I just love every second of it, and even though I’m having to learn every muscle membrane in the body along with each bone and organ and cell and receptors, and how we make energy with ATP molecules binding with protein to contract myofilaments along the sacrolemmas.... whhaaaaaaatttt? I have exams next week, so I'm study whoring all week. Our body is so clever and amazing, I’m overwhelmed each second and blown away by the science that is nature of the human being. All boils down to one thing folks, LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. The key points in today’s class that aside from nutrition, exercise is vital to keep our bodies working in an efficient framework enabling bones and muscles to stay active and keep the internal processes in a building state, otherwise we can see muscles and bones degenerate. It’s never too late to introduce Yoga into your life J

Tonight I took a Hatha class with the lovely Erica from school check out where she cooks  We grabbed sushi from a great place on Broadway that has really fresh fish called Temaki. Check it out, grab a seat at the bar watching the chef’s create their art, it really is an art, they’re also really cool guys too and will chat with you whilst slicing up the octopus to make a rose garden of fish. Sounds weird but looks amazing, and the fish is really fresh non fishy fish too! Cameron takes the evening Hatha class, and it poses the question ‘Is a hot yoga teacher better for practice?’ Firstly you definitely try harder with a cute instructor, but does that mean you are trying to show off? Secondly, its hard to stay in the present moment when you catch some of your own drool on your mat from staring at Camerons tattooed forearms in plank pose (MEGA fetish for forearms, especially hairy ones). Cameron pushes a tough class, with lots of the poses done to one side of the body at a time before moving across. I learnt a new pose he called  the dancing warrior 3 which was a challenge. I say learnt, but I really meant frowned at and wobbled like a jelly, and smiled of course. I struggle with balancing poses that start from the ground pushing the strength upwards, its something to figure out why and enjoy learning, especially with a hot instructor to guide you right?

Bring your weight forward into your front foot as you gently kick up your back leg, fingertips on the floor in front of you. At the same time, bring the torso forward until it is parallel to the floor. Keep the neck relaxed, as if it's the natural extension of the spine. Bend the knee to touch the forhead, keeping your fingertips on the floor. Keep both hips pointing toward the floor as you bring the back leg in line with your body. Flex the raised foot and keep the muscles of the raised leg actively engaged. Bring the arms back along your sides, or ahead of you like a T shape. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: Do the pose at the wall. You can either face the wall and bring your arms outstretched in front of you with your hands on the wall or turn around and bring the lifted back foot onto the wall.

Can you see my sloppy parts for improvement? My focus should be on the pose rather than the instructor, as my hips have popped out to the side, and it should be squared to the floor, creating one long line from toe to finger tip. My head isn't relaxed and my raised foot isnt flexed towards the floor. Its a great improvement from eating the mat though and Im grateful for my body to getting me here! Yeah and I'm grateful for hot yoga teachers too! Just don't let your mind control you, and be able to move past the thought, and then focus on Yoga with a spring in your step!
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