What We Do Is We Don’t Do Much
My yoga practice has evolved quite a bit over the last ten years and I can truly say that most of the time, the poses, the breath and the concentration seem effortless. The struggling, competition and distractions that once hindered me have now dissipated to the point where I no longer feel like the “doer” and I’m one with the flow. With that said, I got to the point where I wondered, “now what?” I can do a freestanding handstand, I can put my foot behind my head and I have mastered all sorts of fun arm balances and transitions but as I often say in class, they’re all just stupid poses. If you can do them great, if you can’t do them who cares! When I come onto my mat, I forget about what happened before and I don’t anticipate what I’m about to do or what might happen after class. My breath guides me through full awareness from moment to moment so reaching a meditative state through asana practice has become the norm. It wasn’t too long after I realized this that I met my meditation teacher and as they say, when the student is ready the teacher will appear.
Michael teaches effortless meditation, which is known as the no contemplation and no concentration meditation. The first class I took was a blur. All I remember is feeling like I had opened my eyes to a brighter, more vibrant world. Colors popped, my awareness seemed to have expanded, and I felt so much clarity that it was almost overwhelming. I knew this is what had been missing.
Practicing this type of meditation is easy. The idea is to sit comfortably, close your eyes and very gently introduce a mantra as a faint idea. If you don’t know any mantras, use Om Namah (Om is the seed mantra of all mantras. The two syllables na- and mah- can be translated as “I humbly bow to you.) Don’t worry about trying to maintain it for the entire session, just let it come and go as it pleases. You’re not trying to force yourself to stop thinking either; let your thoughts rise and fade while remaining calm and innocent. There are no expectations and as Michael says, “What we do is we don’t do much. It almost goes by itself.” The recipe is twice a day — 20 minutes of meditation and with eyes still closed, 5 minutes of rest on your back afterwards.
Most people will say they don’t have time to do this twice a day, but when you commit to something, you make it happen. I once got up at 4am to meditate because I knew I wouldn’t find the time later. Sometimes I don’t watch TV (okay, I never watch TV but I’m making a point here) and other times I choose to stay home instead of going for happy hour drinks. I could write forever about how amazing meditation is but I will say that it’s changed my life drastically. The things that once bothered me can’t even touch me, the peace I feel when I’m sitting with my eyes closed follows me to every waking moment, my mind is calm, my body feels healthier and stronger, I’m more productive and definitely more aware. I’m attracting positive experiences and I’m happier than I’ve ever been no matter what happens.
If you’re interested in meditation research that proves better brain function, go to: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/