I had been practicing yoga for a few years when I realized something a bit sobering -- my mind constantly wandered during class. Oh yes, my monkey mind was hopping from branch to branch waaaaaaay above my mat, uncaring about Sun Salutations. My movements were coming from muscle memory more than conscious movement. I was completely out of touch with my breath. It was then that I realized that I was, perhaps, missing the whole point of yoga. If yoga is relationship, then I was zoning out in my relationship to myself.
Enter Meditation and All Its Baggage
Enter meditation. After being oh so caught up in asana for so long, you can imagine my surprise when a teacher of mine said that asana is merely the preparation of the body for pranayama and meditation. What?!?!?! You mean it's not all about Crow and Downward Dog?!?!?! Ah, yes, I had a lot to learn (still do).
Years have passed and I find myself shedding the meditation baggage that I've accumulated over the years. Rather than fussing over technique, posture, etc., I prefer to sit and...be, for lack of a better description. Today I sat for 15 minutes -- no cushion or bench, no meditation shawl, no special technique, no remembered instruction from past teachers -- just me, myself, and I. Rather than be a meditator, capital M, I wanted to be me. I wanted to be with myself in silence, noticing what was going on.
Quality Time with Yourself
Often we hear about how partners reconnect with each other by spending "quality time" together. Well then, wouldn't it follow that if you want to reconnect with yourself, you should spend some quality time with yourself? And by quality time, no, I do not mean sitting in your comfy chair reading a book (I love to so this myself, but this is more distraction and entertainment than relationship building). I mean just being with yourself without distraction. Check in by noticing. Maybe even ask yourself what you need.
I'd been feeling out of sorts all day today, finally realizing that what I really wanted was some attention. My self wanted a little quality time. It wanted to be listened to. Since this relationship is pretty darned important to me, I thought it prudent to give it the time it was craving (actually, it was whining by the time I figured it out).
Give Yourself Voice
Another way I like to get out of my head and get into my self is Kirtan. My mind may have wandered during yoga, but the volume of those thoughts came way down when I would attend a Kirtan. I was hooked after my very first experience, a very simple chant in the presence of a teacher with a drum. Even though I've been to many a Kirtan -- both big and small -- over the years, I still like to keep it simple. Lately, I've been enjoying the latest release by the talented Lea Longo -- Peace Chants.
I enjoyed Lea's Zen Voyage CD but Peace Chants brings me back to my simple (and powerful) beginnings with Kirtan. Lea offers up perfectly paced classic chants in her melodic voice. The CD sleeve claims that the music offers "an intoxicating musical voyage that deepens the mind-soul connection, uplifting you to a higher state of meditative consciousness and bliss" and I totally agree.
The CD includes 10 chants that inspire everything from protection to healing to peace. One of my favorite things to do is take a chant break during the day, put on the chant that speaks to me and then sing out loud right along with it.
A little quiet time and then some out loud time with my chants and I'm feeling pretty darned amazing.
Oh, am I'm also happy to say that my mind doesn't wander quite as much during my yoga practice.
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