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Breathing Meditation February 10, 2012

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 12:05 am

Let me breathe out the battles I wage with others, and even within myself, and breathe in profound peace.
Let me breathe out hate and then fill my lungs, and my life, with love.
Let me breathe out illness and breathe in health.
Let me release my need to be in lack with a single, great exhalation, and breathe in the truth of my own abundance.
Let me breathe out the negativity that no longer serves me, releasing it back into the wild and freeing me from all that came before this moment.
And then, finally, let me breathe in, filling me from head to toe with the truth of who I am.


Self Blessing Meditation December 12, 2011

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 9:19 pm

  • Sit with spine straight in a chair or cross-legged, eyes closed.
  • Arch the right arm over the head, palm facing down 6 inches above the crown of the head.
  • Raise the left forearm parallel to the ground. Bend the elbow so the hand is touching your chest, palm facing down.
  • Repeat out loud in a monotone:  “I bless myself, I bless myself, I bless myself. I am, I am.”
  •  Practice for 3 minutes.
  • To end, inhale deeply, hold the breath and repeat the mantra mentally. Exhale.
  • Repeat this sequence 2 more times. Relax.

This meditation frees us from guilt, blame, shame, resentment and bitterness. By blessing ourselves, God immediately and spontaneously blesses us.


Being Lucky October 31, 2011

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 11:52 pm

It’s been said that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Once in a while, everything comes together and magic happens. Like when you leave the house at exactly the right time to miss traffic, or when you get an intuitive “hit” on when to search for the best airfare or you need to reach someone and at that moment the phone rings and it’s him or her. Most of the time, good fortune is a result of planning and hard work, as well as a bit of luck.

Luck also happens when you apply your meditation and intention to bring about the changes you want in your life. You can tap into the universal forces of good will through a regular yoga and meditation practice. Meditation sharpens your intuitive powers to help you act with awareness, intention and synchronicity. Through your meditative mind, you will be able to create magic and see pathways through any challenge. Then it’s just up to you to seize the opportunities! How lucky can you get?


Sitting in Upekshanam October 12, 2011

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 8:06 am

For a formal practice to cultivate equanimity, begin with some calming breaths or a mantra meditation. Once you feel calm, reflect on your desire for happiness and freedom from suffering, both for yourself and for others. Contemplate your desire to serve the needs of others and to be compassionately engaged in the world. Acknowledge both the joy and the suffering that exist throughout the world—the good deeds and the evil ones. As you continue to breathe into your heart’s center, acknowledge the necessity of balancing your desire to make positive change in the world with the reality that you cannot control the actions of others.

Bring to mind the image of someone for whom you have no strong feelings one way or the other. With this person in your mind’s eye, repeat the following phrases to yourself, coordinating with the outbreath if you like:
All beings like yourself are responsible for their own actions.

Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself.

Although I wish only the best for you, I know that your happiness or unhappiness depends on your actions, not on my wishes for you.

May you not be caught in reactivity.

Feel free to use other similar, appropriate phrases of your own devising. After a few minutes, shift your attention to your benefactors, including teachers, friends, family and the unseen workers who keep the societal infrastructure working. Silently repeat the phrases to yourself as you contemplate these benefactors.

After several minutes, begin to reflect on your loved ones, directing the phrases to them, followed by the difficult people in your life. While feeling kindness, compassion, and joy for those we love comes more easily than it does for those with whom we have difficulty, it is often the opposite with equanimity. It’s a lot easier to accept that those we dislike are responsible for their own happiness than it is for those we care for deeply, because we feel more attachment to them. Whatever your experience, simply note any reactivity and see if you can be equanimous with your reactivity! Broaden your reach after a few minutes to include all beings everywhere throughout the world, and then finally contemplate equanimity in regard to yourself, noticing how taking responsibility for your own happiness and unhappiness can feel the hardest of all.
All beings, including myself, are responsible for their own actions.

Suffering or happiness is created through one’s relationship to experience, not by experience itself.

Although I wish only the best for myself, I know that my happiness or unhappiness depends on my actions, not my wishes for myself.

May I not be caught in reactivity.

When you cultivate metta (the friendly quality of kind regard), karuna (the compassionate response to the suffering of others), and mudita (the delight in the happiness and success of others), it is equanimity that ultimately allows you to truly expand your capacity to experience this kind of boundless love for those beyond your immediate circle of friends and family, opening to the infinite capacity of your heart to embrace all beings.


Anapanasati – breathe and let go September 19, 2011

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 12:13 am

Anapanasati is the meditation system expressly taught by the Buddha in which mindful breathing is used to develop both samadhi (a serene and concentrated mind) and vipassana. This practice—said to be the form of meditation used to bring the Buddha to full awakening—is based on the Anapanasati Sutta. In this clear and detailed teaching, the Buddha presents a meditation practice that uses conscious breathing to calm the mind so that it is fit to see into itself, to let go into freedom.

The first step is to take up your breathing as an exclusive object of attention; focus your attention on the sensations produced as the lungs, naturally and without interruption, fill up and empty themselves. You can pick up these sensations by bringing your attention to the nostrils, chest, or abdomen. As your breath awareness practice matures, this attention can be expanded to the body as a whole. In the Buddha’s words: “Being sensitive to the whole body, the yogi breathes in; being sensitive to the whole body, the yogi breathes out.”

It is important to note that you are learning to be mindful of the raw sensations that come through breathing, free of conceptualization or imagery of any kind. For those who have done hatha yoga and pranayama, can you see that your training has been an excellent preparation for this? Of course, when you direct your attention to the breath, you may find that the mind prefers to be anywhere else but there. The practice is to keep returning to the breath each time you are distracted. Little by little the mind learns to settle down; it feels steady, calm, and peaceful. At this early stage, you are also encouraged to be mindful during the activities of your day. Turning to the breathing from time to time can ground you in these activities. The breath is always with you, helping to cut down on the unnecessary thinking that distracts from the here and now.

Concentrating on breathing in such a manner enables the mind to gather together all its scattered energies. The mind is now much more steady, clear, and ready to practice vipassana. You are encouraged to enlarge the scope of your awareness so that it gradually becomes more comprehensive. With awareness anchored in the breathing, begin to include all bodily movements—the pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral sensations that make up sensory experience and the wide variety of mind states that compose so much of your consciousness. You become increasingly familiar and at home with bodily life, emotions, and the thought process itself. You are learning the art of self-observation, while being in touch with the fact that you are breathing in and out. The skill being developed is the ability to widen and deepen the capacity to receive your own experience with intimacy and a lack of bias. The breath is like a good friend accompanying you along the way.

You are now in a position to practice pure vipassana meditation. The mind is able to bring the fullness of mental and physical life into focus. The primary meaning of vipassana is insight—insight into the impermanent nature of all mental and physical formations. In the words of the Buddha: “Focusing on the impermanent nature of all formations, the yogi breathes in; focusing on the impermanent nature of all formations, the yogi breathes out.”

As you sit and breathe, observe the arising and passing of all mental and physical events. The mind empties itself of all its content; the body discloses its transparent and constantly changing nature. Deep penetration into the law of impermanence can profoundly facilitate your ability to let go of the attachments that produce so much unnecessary anguish.

Of course, this brief treatment of one of the Buddha’s most important meditation teachings is inadequate. I hope that the potential of breath awareness as a possible meditation practice seems like a reasonable one with which to experiment. If such a practice proves to be of value, I believe you will also find your preferred form of hatha yoga to be a natural and magnificent partner, one that facilitates and intensifies the liberating power of meditation. The asanas help you sit in a comfortable and stable posture, while pranayama improves the quality of breathing so it is much more attractive as an object of mindfulness.

The Art of Allowing
The following breath awareness exercise can help you unlearn the widespread tendency to control breathing, which is often due to an emotional blockage. First, allow the breath to flow. During the course of receiving instructions on the practice of anapanasati, let the breath happen, rather than make the breath happen. This art of “allowing” is vital in the correct practice of meditation. The free flow of breath brings with it great peace and calm. It prepares the mind to flow freely, which, when joined with full and clear attention, brings with it freedom. This exercise—which enables you to see more clearly how you interfere with the natural movement of the inhalation, exhalation, and the pause between them—may help you move in the direction of nondirection.

After sitting quietly for a few minutes, bring attention to your exhalations. Becoming aware of your exhalations in the beginning is often necessary to get you going. Think of it as properly warming up. Feel the breath sensations associated with exhaling again and again—without interfering. Accept whatever sensations turn up. Let them be.

As you become more familiar with the details of exhalation, do you find that you are interfering with the process of breathing out? If so, in what way? Instead of letting the out-breaths happen on their own, do you tamper with them? You may discover, as some yogis do, that you don’t trust your own breathing to do the job of exhaling on its own.

There are many ways to disturb the breath—as your awareness becomes more precise, see the specific ways in which you direct the natural process of breathing. Do you give exhalations the full time that they need? If you are cutting the breaths short, notice this. Gradually, as your breathing becomes less willful, your exhalations will begin to terminate naturally, by themselves. As you begin to interfere less with your breathing, can you see any change in the quality of the breath—or your mind?

Now begin to work with your inhalation in much the same way. Do you disturb your inhalations as soon as you begin to observe them? Any help at all by you is interference. In short, become aware of the unique ways in which you disturb your inhalations.

Finally, become more familiar with the breathing pause—the gap between breaths. What happens during the pause, especially as it lengthens itself? Anxiety? Boredom? A tendency to get distracted? You can begin with exhalations, and as you feel them, become more aware of how your exhalations change into inhalations. Do you, for example, rush and cut short the end of your exhalations, pushing inhalations through before they are due? Are the inhalations willful and early, curtailing the pause between exhaling and inhaling?

As you observe how you tamper with this natural process, you interfere with the transitions between breaths less and less. Re-establishing the full strength of the pause, even if it is only brief, brings with it calm and satisfaction. The breath recovers on its own if you let it. You develop trust in the “recuperative” power of your own breathing process.

In allowing the breath to flow naturally, you develop a crucial skill for when your practice expands beyond just breathing in vipassana. Can you also allow the entire mind-body process to unfold just as naturally and see it clearly as it does? To do so is to invite the liberating power of insight to manifest itself and enrich your life.


August 1, 2011

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 8:42 am

July 16, 2011

Filed under: Meditation — rainbowyoga @ 5:51 am

We usually don’t think much about our fingers and toes during practice, unless we remember to spread the former in Downward-Facing Dog, or happen to stub the latter on a wooden block we’ve left lying around. But our fingers and toes (as well as our hands and feet) are charged with divine power, which, when intelligently accessed and properly applied, can intensify the transformative power of the practice.

You may have seen drawings or photos of yogis with their fingers pretzeled into odd configurations and wondered what they were doing. Each of these gestures, called a mudra (seal), is an archetypal or ritualized hand-pantomime, a visual “message” akin to a hieroglyph or ideogram. There are countless numbers of mudras, some made with one hand, others with two, some fairly simple, others considerably more complex. Although mudras can also be made with the tongue or eyes, we’ll focus on hand mudras.

Symbolically, a mudra seals or “stamps” the mark of the god or goddess on the practitioner much like a signet ring stamps an impression on soft wax, signaling her complete devotion and self-surrender.

When linked etymologically with the verb mud, “to delight,” the word mudra also suggests that by performing these gestures, we bring delight to our chosen deity. And it’s said that during pranayama and meditation, a mudra helps seal prana in and recycle it throughout the body, preventing it from leaking out through the fingers. Moreover, the fixed hand position helps quiet restless fingers and in turn calms the brain. As an added bonus, some texts claim, mudras confer magical powers on the practitioner, such as healing others’ illnesses (and maybe even exacting revenge on enemies) and assisting in the awakening of kundalini.

Traditionally mudras aren’t performed with the feet. But still, the print your bare pada (foot) leaves on the ground is called a pada mudra, a “foot seal.” Such a seal, when made by a deity like Vishnu or a sage, is worshipped with offerings of flowers and prayers.