Thank you for taking the time to connect with me in this way!
In order to keep my brain and body active over the last 6 months, I have undertaken some wonderful courses with my teacher in India. I am currently studying the Bhagavad Gita, which is one of Yoga’s great philosophical texts.
This, for me has helped me to stay focussed when I feel the world around is crazy, It has also enabled me to maintain a sense of purpose, with regard to my practice goals and has helped me to maintain a vision of the future; something which I for one, am struggling to picture with confidence!
The seesaw affect that this pandemic is having on my emotions is a challenge, and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way!
Strangely for me, I began to find my meditation time less and less effective as the weeks within the coronavirus restrictions, ticked by.
I couldn’t understand why! After repeatedly sitting with my reactions, I have put this down to spending more time alone than I used to, and therefore naturally wanting to be ‘with’ people.
I used to really relish the alone time that my practice gave me. I have wanted to avoid that alone time in recent months as my body seems to be rebelling against the lack of human contact that we are all enduring.
This is a strange feeling for me, because since I was about 12 years old, I have been meditating on a regular basis. I used to sit under trees near to where I lived and just be alone, taking in the sounds around me, while I sat there quietly at peace. My mother was poorly throughout my childhood and it was quite disruptive to the family environment, so I would relish this alone time.
The busy nature of life continued in that vain for many years, so for me, I have always turned to my meditation and yoga practice as a stabilising force.
I love the way life keeps presenting a different face for me to grapple with! This pandemic, really has set me all at sea and now I am looking at my practice from another angle, completely.
Below are steps I have taken to bring me back on track with my meditation and to re-establish a new outlook.
I think they may help you to find a different perspective and perhaps a regular practice too, so I wanted to share them with you!
When you think of someone meditating, you may picture them sitting cross legged on the floor, with the eyes closed and in complete stillness. There is a misconception that thought has to stop completely, when in reality, this happens only in moments!
For me, the struggle of late, has meant that I have been really distracted in my meditations; with thoughts flashing before me and a sense of needing to fidget and move, whereas before, I could find moments of nothingness, where there was no thought and no movement of physical or mental awareness.
In order to rebalance my practice, I have taken a new outlook as listed below, and with the help of some well grounded philosophy!
The nervous system is on a medium to high level of alert for most of us at the moment, with massive lifestyle changes and other monetary and health concerns keeping us from a sense of deeper peace and personal power.
Because of this, it is making it harder for the nervous system to surrender into meditation.
Showing up to meditate is all that matters. If you find that your meditation one day was better than another, do not feel that you have to chase that in future experiences. View every experience as valuable, whether your ego has labelled the experience as a ‘success’ or not.
There is so much to be learned from imperfection. In fact, yogic philosophy states that there is more than one level of experience in meditation, there are actually 4 levels. I am going to lead you through level 1 as this will show you the experiences you may have as you begin your journey into meditation. If you wish to know more about the last 3 levels of meditation, please do get in touch and I will happily share this with you!
Level one: Savikalpa Samadhi:
This first level is broken down into 4 stages. These stages reflect different experiences you may have, where you may find yourself ranging from being fully present with the physical body or the mental body to moments you may slip into a stage where you are unaware of either for a short time.
Stage 1. Sarvitarka Samadhi:
This is where you use your meditation time to try to concentrate on the physical aspect of the self. You can view this really as a form of examination where you study the fluctuations that are going on in the body, such as sensations. Through the study of the physical or 'gross' body, you gain an understanding and sensitivity towards your 'Self' as physical experience.
Stage 2. Savichara Samadhi:
This is where your awareness, or concentration is trained on more subtle aspects, such as emotions, where you may explore the feeling of love, a sound or the more subtler aspects like touch, where your clothes are making contact with your skin, or the feeling of cool air against your skin, and focussing on that.
Stage 3. Sa-ananda Samadhi:
This is where you move beyond the experience of movement of thought or of the perception of anything that you can reflect upon. Where a sense or experience of either the gross or subtle aspects mentioned above is no longer there. Instead you feel more single pointed in experience, where there is only a sense of tranquility and calmness, with no need or desire to analyse or reflect, just being in this settled feeling is enough!
Stage 4. Sa-Asmita Samadhi:
This stage is where there is no feeling of experience at all, you do not feel the need to achieve anything or to perceive anything. There is no feeing of me and... There is just a feeling of oneness. This state differs from sleep because within it the conscious mind has merged with the unconscious so you are now resting in full awareness and bliss. You are still perceiving a sense of I.
As you can see from the above, trying to be perfect and to stop thought, isn't something you need to concern yourself with, being present with all experiences may lead you, without effort on the journey through the stages mentioned above. If thoughts do plaque you, view them as an experience like any other physical or emotional experience and be open to them. The secret is to view a thought as an individual thought and not to let one thought turn into another. You may start with a thought of being hungry, allow yourself to acknowledge that as a valid thought, if you don't notice that thought as it is, you may find yourself having an inner dialogue where your initial thought of hunger, sets more thoughts in motion, such as what you would like for lunch or where you went for lunch yesterday...before you know it, you are lost on the thought train. So you can see, each individual thought isn't problem as long as you recognise you have had a thought and return to your point of focus.
This would take you really through level 1, stage 1, of the above experiences as you would be focussing on the physical/gross aspect of experience. This is particularly helpful if you find it hard to sit still as you meditate. A yoga practice before meditation, helps one to sit peacefully in meditation.
There is nothing more eye opening than having to spend time on your own, without distraction! You are literally left with your own feelings, emotions, habits and experiences. Your past thoughts, and future thoughts. Your likes and your dislikes. They shine up in your face, whether you want to know them or not. Rather than being chased away by these realities, why not explore them, using stage 1 and 2 of your meditation experience, you can do it while out on a walk, or you can use a journal to note them down to bring them into your more conscious awareness.
These are invaluable times for many reasons and there is a danger that in the process of not wanting to sit with what's going on, we may lose the opportunity to grow from it. The pandemic is an uncomfortable thing to be living through and to sit with it consciously can be as uncomfortable as some of our unwanted unconscious thoughts and habits; you know the ones that you try to distract yourself from!
One of the most common ways we can fall during meditation is when the realisation hits that it is down to you! You have to do the work! Because I know how hard this can be to overcome, I do have a little surprise for you!
I have recorded a short 432hz sound meditation for you, using Crystal Chakra Bowls. You can use headphones and find a comfortable place to sit or to lie down and use this wonderful tool to assist you on your journey!
Throughout October and November, I am offering 15 minutes, once a week for FREE to anyone who would like to experience Yoga, meditation or even to have a chat via Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp. You can choose to just speak on the phone and ask questions about your practice. This is open to you more than once!
If I can help in any way, for you to cope better with what is going on, or with meditation in general, please do get in touch.
The time slots I have available are, Saturday Morning 10.15-10.30am, (as long as there are no workshops) or Friday morning 11.15-11.30am.
If this opportunity interests you, please do get in touch. There will be one session per week so booking is limited.
I would love to connect with you and to help you to establish this wonderful journey through life!
Lots of love, as always!
Yoga Freedom offers regular monthly and bi-monthly Yoga and relaxation events in Kingsthorpe. The wonderful community of Yoga Freedom students also come together annually, to celebrate the autumn and spring equinox and the summer and winter solstice. Christmas is a time for getting together and relaxing too, so why not look out for the Winter’s Deep Chill event.
If you wish to explore a more educational aspect of yoga, from deepening your practice and understanding of the postures, to understanding how you can use yoga to assist your sleep, Yoga Freedom runs regular workshops to support you on your journey. As you deepen your understanding of Yoga you will improve your life through connecting on a deeper level both on and off your Yoga mat.
Yoga Freedom runs a choice of daytime and evening weekly classes, that are suitable for all levels of ability. Through experienced and sympathetic guidance, you will find the best of your self. The classes are fun and friendly. With over 11 years of teaching experience behind me, I have a wealth of experience to call upon, to ensure that your personal journey with yoga will be both enjoyable and fulfilling.
Yoga Freedom offers occasional 6 week mini courses to get you started on your journey to health and wellbeing. I run these courses by demand, so please do let me know of your interest and I will let you know when the next course is scheduled. These specialist courses will deepen your understanding of the benefits, physically and emotionally as you move towards better health and improved vitality.
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