Last week I started to share some about doing the "work." I'd like to talk a bit more about that today.
And there was a question about the flow of a morning meditation session. I mentioned that when doing it early it would be best to do a little stretching and then flow into your meditation activities. Follow that with your asana practice. But it is also worth noting that if you are starting later in the morning and have a hatha yoga practice where you enjoy doing yoga asanas, then it can be useful to do your asana work before your meditation practice.
So... if up quite early, that special quiet time (usually before 6am, the hour and a half before sunrise), then only a little stretching to get the body opened up and released enough to settle into sitting still for your practice. You can follow the meditation with some nice hatha practice, too. If starting later, and you have the time, it would be useful to do some hatha practice to lead into your meditation.
That special quiet time, known as Brahmamuhurta, will make it much easier to still and focus your mind. So it may be better not to use up that time with asana practice. Only do what is needed to get comfortable. But after the sunrise, a nice hatha practice will center and still the mind and energy, as well as build up your pranic level so that you can most effectively direct your attention and be steady in your meditation practice.
Let me know if you have any questions about this, hatha yoga practice or any thing else.
"Work." We are attracted to a meditation practice for a number of reasons. We have heard or experienced that meditation can be awesome. There can be interesting insights. Sometimes there might be heightened sensual experiences. There might be "visits" from sages. Out-of-body ventures can occur. Wow! And we can find that peace "that surpasses all understanding." It makes sense to give some time to meditation. And, remember that a regularly, daily meditation practice is what usually works best to get you established. It is then that your meditation will serve you in these ways.
Understand that the regularity is especially important and useful. But to do it every day will require discipline (see our chats from a few weeks ago). You need to commit to your practice. You do it not only when you are in the mood, but as a disciplined practice. You do it both when it is a delight and easy and when it is challenging and uncomfortable.
Creating a set routine for your meditation practice can be so useful. Brian's question last week was just what was needed. He was checking on the flow of a routine. Though there are some useful tips for how you can set up your routine, note that just having a routine is itself so helpful.
Then, even when you aren't "feeling it", you already have the flow happening. You know what to do next. There is another advantage to this. Once you have settled into a regular routine, the mind is not engaged in wondering what needs to be done next. It knows. This frees up the mind so that it can be quiet and focused upon whatever you have chosen as your object of meditation.
There is another sense of “work” that I would love you to consider. We don't just do our formal meditation practice to have those experiences, or even to put us in a good flow for the day (which is does). But we are working to become established in the meditative state. We want to walk and talk and listen and act and consider - everything while in the meditative state. This is the goal of our formal meditation practice. When we end the practice, we remain in the meditative state.
So here is the other bit of “work” I am encouraging you to take on. At the start of your formal practice set the intention that your practice is to move you into the meditative state, that you are to become established in that. At the end of each formal session take a few moments to note your state of mind and invite that to stay with you as you go about the rest of your day. Note what it is like viewing things this way. And, whenever the mind has seemed to slipped from that, take a few breaths, tune in to it, and settle back into that way of being with everything. View things from the meditative perspective.
Even when you don't seem to be there. The effort will soon make you more conscious of your state of mind, and will help you come into that way of being more and more. This will initially be extra “work” for you, but will become a delight and make things easier. Those things that irked you in the past just don't move you as they used to.
May you have fun, come to see who you are and love your self.
Master Sivananda asked us to repeat the following affirmation everyday:
“I am the Self of all; I am the All; I am the All in all.”
And here is an affirmation I have personally used for many years:
“I am pure, eternal, light, consciousness, bliss.” It works for me.
Feel free to use any and everything that works for you.
May you be ever blessed and a blessing,