Meditation is the pudding of yoga

So, it was lovely to be back in my normal yoga class with the fire roaring inside and a horse mosying around the garden outside, in front of the window.  But at the end of the class I puzzled, as I always do.  When it’s time for our final meditation, the vast majority of the class pack up and leave.  Why?  WHY?  I love the asanas, the vinyasas and so on but, well, meditation is the best bit of all.  Isn’t it?  Leaving before meditation is like having a fabulous meal at a smart restaurant and getting up and walking out before pudding.   Or, if you’d rather have a sexual metaphor, it’s like having tons of foreplay and then going, ‘Nah, I won’t bother with an orgasm, thanks.’
Each to their own, I suppose, but really the whole idea of physical yoga, yogasana, is to prepare oneself for meditation.
Yesterday Lucy and I were the only two who stayed and Miranda led us in a really lovely meditation.  I thought I’d run through it here in case you wanted to try it.  Truly, there is no one right way to meditate, you can do whatever floats your boat.  This is fancier than my usual practice but I like it.

Sit comfortably.  I tend to sit in half-lotus (purely because it’s my most comfortable seated posture) but really just sit in any way you feel comfortable – cross-legged, or in a chair. But do try to keep your spine straight if you can.  If not, again it’s fine – you can lie down if sitting hurts (but you might nod off!).  The main thing is to find a position which is easy to maintain.  You may well want to pop on a pair of socks and put a blanket or throw (snuggly of course) around you to keep warm.

Place your hands somewhere comfortable.  I usually have my hands on my knees, palms up, thumb and forefinger touching but yesterday we interlaced our hands in our laps, with our thumbs touching. Curl your tongue up so the tip touches the top of your mouth.

Become aware of all the sounds around you.  There’s no need (and no point) in trying to block out the world around you – become acutely aware of it for a while.  If a sound intrudes when you’re meditating, simply acknowledge it and then let it go.

Now do the three-part breath.  Breathe in to your belly and hold…one, two, three, four.  Without exhaling, take the breath further up into your chest and hold…one, two, three, four.  Now take the breath right up to the top of your head and hold…one, two, three four.  And then exhale, let it all go.  Of course, if you struggle to hold your breath so long, take it at your own pace.  Repeat the whole process once more.

Now become still.  Imagine you are sitting on the top of the highest mountain in the world.  You’re calm, peaceful, warm and safe.  Bring your attention to the area just above and between your eyebrows, your third eye area.

The mountain drops away beneath you, becoming smaller and smaller as you find yourself floating up into space.  The Earth falls away beneath you and it too becomes smaller and smaller until it becomes a pinprick and then vanishes altogether.

You are alone in space, in perfect warmth and darkness.  You feel total peace.  You are a part of the universe and it is a part of you.  Feel it.  As you breathe in, you can say the word Relax in your mind.  As you breathe out, you can say the word Peace.

If you find your mind wandering  (and it will) don’t be cross with it, just gently bring it back to the breath and return your focus to your third eye.

Stay like this for as long as you like.  It’s pretty addictive.

Once you feel it’s time to return, simply pause and become aware of the room around you, the world outside your mind.  Now perform the three part breath exercise three times to bring you firmly back into your body.  Rub your hands together vigorously to generate warmth and then place them over your eyes.  Open your eyes inside the palms of your hands and feel the warmth.

Bring your hands together in the prayer position in front of your heart chakra and give thanks to the universe. Namaste.

Image from Yobaba Lounge

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