Category Archives: Meditation
May is National Meditation Month. Here’s a lovely one from Mike George’s 1001 Meditations.
Open to love. Imagine yourself as a flowerbud, head bowed, petals tightly furled. Gradually you become pleasantly aware of a warm tingle as the morning sun strikes the base of your petals. You lift your head and loosen your petals a little. As the sunlight gets warmer, you feel encouraged to open further until your exquisite petals, delicate hues and intoxicating scent are revealed in all their glory. In the same way, allow the warmth of love to open your heart, allowing its full beauty to be revealed.
May 3rd is National Garden Meditation Day. Whether you have a favorite garden spot, favorite plant, or even a photograph of a beautiful garden, it is a great day to take in the natural beauty of the world and fully see what’s around you.
Take a few moments today and sit quietly in nature. If a guided meditation helps, here is a lovely one from Mike George’s 1001 Meditations: How to Discover Peace of Mind.
Garden of the Mind. Visualize yourself in a garden. The overgrown foliage of discontent blocks out the light and the weeds of worry choke the path. Armed with a fork and pruning shears you begin digging up the weeds and cutting back the shrubs. Penetrating deeper into the garden, you discover features previously unknown to you – a well of love and a fountain of creativity. Having cleared the soil you plant the seeds of joy and laughter. Each day you tend your plants, watching as your flowers of contentment come into bloom.
Peace and joy,
On this beautiful Earth Day, I enjoyed a workshop with the wonderful Alie McManus. During our closing meditation, part of what we focused on was planting a seed for what we want to grow. Today is a perfect day to plant a seed for our future, both literally and metaphorically.
Take a moment today and imagine what you would most like to see happen in your life, in your world. Incorporate it into your meditation. Live like it is already a reality. See what happens.
With love and light,
While February was National Haiku Writing Month, April 17 is haiku writing day. After being shocked to learn that 5-7-5 does not make a haiku a haiku, I thought I would try again at one of the other meters. I make no claims to have any poetic talent but I’m intrigued by this form.
Enjoy your day!
One of the simplest forms of breath control is belly breath, more accurately called deep diaphragmatic breath. I often work with diaphragmatic breathing with new students before we move on to the more involved three-part breath.
Introduction to Diaphragmatic Breath
- Come to any seated or reclined position with a straight spine
- Close your eyes. Relax your face and body, and breathe naturally through your nose.
- Place your one hand or both hands on your low abdomen, a few inches below your belly button.
- Begin to focus your awareness on your breath as it moves in and out of your body through your nose.
- On your next breath, begin to lengthen your inhale to a three-count as you feel the natural lift of your belly into your hands.
- On your exhalation, relax your abdominal muscles and feel the belly drop away from your hands.
- Continue for three to five rounds before allowing your breath to fall back into its natural rhythms.
As you become more comfortable, you can gradually begin to lengthen both the inhales and exhales to a 10-count as long breath feels smooth and comfortable. You can also gradually extend the practice to around five minutes or longer. If, at any time, you begin to feel light-headed or anxious, discontinue the session.
January is National Hot Tea Month and today is National Hot Tea Day! Celebrate with your favorite tea, dressed up any way you like or not at all. One of my favorites is a matcha latte and it’s really easy to make.
Green Tea Matcha Latte
- 1 teaspoon green tea matcha powder
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 3/4 cup milk, heated to a simmer
- agave syrup, to taste
In a heat-resistant cup, slowly whisk together the matcha powder and water. Slowly add in the milk, whisking to a froth. Add agave to taste.
A few notes about the recipe: When purchasing matcha powder, check the ingredients. I ordered mine online and it contains 100% green tea leaves. Some matcha powders are mixes that contain sugar and/or other ingredients, so just be aware of what you’re buying. Also I’m neither vegan nor lactose intolerant, so I used cow’s milk but feel free to use your milk of choice.
I love the earthy, grassy taste of matcha. In addition to tasting good, it has health benefits as well. Traditional green tea steeped from leaves is high in antioxidants; matcha is more so because it is made from the whole ground leaf. Matcha has about the same level of caffeine as a cup of coffee, so just be aware of that if you’re watching your caffeine intake.
Matcha has long been used in conjunction with meditation, so try a cup before your next session.
We conclude our journey through the chakras this week with a look at the crown chakra, or sahasrara. The seventh chakra is the seat of our connection to the Divine, spirituality, and beauty.
When our seventh chakra is not balanced, we fail to recognize there is something greater than ourselves. We might feel that happiness is only from external sources. We are narcissistic, arrogant, and ungrateful. We are limited by our bodies, our intelligence, or our feelings. We see emotions as weakness.
When the sahasrara is in balance, we feel connected to beauty and the spiritual realm. We understand that we are something more than our physical body. We are open to enlightenment, joy, peace, and wisdom. We realize we are connected in every way to the rest of the universe.
Healing Through Visualization and Mantras
We can balance the chakras in many ways, including meditation and visualization.
Light meditation: This chakra is associated with violet or white. Try this meditation from 1001 Meditations by Mike George, with the rays of light being either violet or white. Both are healing colors.
“A thousand petals. Realizing our connection with the Source is the aim of meditation. We can connect to the Source through the crown chakra — called the sahasrara, meaning ‘a thousand petals’. The sahasrara chakra is depicted as a full-blossomed lotus radiating a thousand rays of light. Visualize this on the crown of your head as you meditate. This will lead you to a realization of your true self, and a oneness with the supreme consciousness.”
Mantra meditation: You can meditate using a simple mantras. One option is to repeat “I understand” with each breath, mentally saying “I” with the inhale and “understand” with the exhale. Or you could vocalize the Bija mantra of the solar plexus by taking a deep breath in and chanting “OM” on the exhale.
Lovingkindness meditation: You can also practice a version of the lovingkindness meditation to reflect on the unity of us all.
Namaste, dear readers,
The throat chakra, or vishudda, is the seat of Truth and communication. Understanding the truth seems simple enough but, in reality, truth is shaded not only by our fluctuating moods and emotions but also by our environment, culture, and societal values. Being able to understand universal truth means being able to recognize our biases and the role they play in obscuring the truth.
Additionally rather than repress our emotions, we instead must learn to express them freely with integrity and without causing harm to others. We are frequently taught from a young age that expressing sadness or pain is a sign of weakness. When our throat chakra is balanced, we recognize that these “negative” emotions are part of living a full, rich life. Finding creative and effective ways to express these emotions are a sign of strength, not weakness.
We must also learn the difficult task of non-attachment, recognizing that the truth isn’t always what we want it to be. Accepting truth for what it is rather than trying to shape it to what we want is liberating and leads to inner peace.
Healing Through Meditation and Visualization
We can balance the chakras in many ways, including meditation and visualization. Included here are some simple suggestions.
Light meditation: The color of the vishudda is blue, often a sky blue. Try this meditation from 1001 Meditations by Mike George:
“Visualize a blue spinning disk at the front of your throat. This will unblock the vishuddha throat chakra, which is associated with shades of blue. This is helpful if you find it difficult to express yourself verbally.
“Taking this exercise a stage further, lie on your back and place a small blue stone or crystal at the base of your throat. Closing your eyes, focus on the stone. Imagine its power activating the vortex of energy at your throat.”
Mantra meditation: You can meditate using a simple mantras. One option is to repeat “I speak” with each breath, mentally saying “I” with the inhale and “speak” with the exhale. Or you could vocalize the Bija mantra of the solar plexus by taking a deep breath in and chanting “HAM” on the exhale (the “a” sounds more like calm than lamb or click here to hear the correct pronunciation).
Stillness meditation: Listening is equally important to effective communication as speaking. One of my favorite teachers, Erich Schiffmann, often says, “Think less. Listen more,” during his workshops. Simple, but not easy. To help us get to that point is another effective meditation from 1001 Meditations by Mike George:
“Letting be. Much of the discord we experience comes from resisting what is. Take a step toward inner harmony by accepting whatever is happening in the moment. Silently say ‘yes’ to your thoughts and feelings, the sensations within your body, and the sights and sounds that you see and hear around you. Once you allow what is to simply be there, without wishing to change it in any way, you make contact with he stillness at the heart of being.”
Namaste, dear readers,
This week we continue our chakra work by focusing on the heart chakra or anahata.
Heart Chakra Basics
The heart chakra is located around the heart and center of the chest and is associated with the heart, lung, and shoulders. The anahata is the seat of love, compassion, peace, and balance. The fourth chakra is at the center of the chakra system and represents the balancing point between the material energy of the lower chakras and spiritual energy of the higher chakras.
When the heart chakra is too closed, we feel isolated, suffer from low self-esteem, and are unable to be open to giving and receiving love. When it is too open, we are co-dependent, clingy, and give away love so freely that we undermine our own needs. Physically, we suffer from circulatory and respiratory illness.
When in balance, we are open to giving and receiving love to others and ourselves. Our relationships are healthy; we are able to embrace the highs and lows of relationships and compassionately deal with issues through effective communication. We are able to heal past wounds.
Healing Through Meditation and Pranayama
We can awaken the chakras in many ways, including meditation and pranayama, or breath work. Included here are some simple suggestions.
Light meditation: The color of the anahata is green, a highly healing color. Meditate on glowing orb of green light growing at your heart. As this orb begins to spin with the breath, imagine it moving in a spiral pattern through the other chakra. Imagine light and energy moving in a spiral from the heart to the throat then to solar plexus then to the third eye to the sacrum to the crown of the head and finally to the root chakra, healing each chakra as you go. Then imagine that energy spiraling back to the heart in the opposite pattern.
Mantra meditation: You can meditate using a simple mantra. The simplest option is to repeat “I love” with each breath, mentally saying “I” with the inhale and “love” with the exhale. Or you could vocalize the Bija mantra of the solar plexus by taking a deep breath in and chanting “LAM” on the exhale (the “a” sounds more like calm than lamb or click here to hear the correct pronunciation).
Pranayama: The element associated with the heart chakra is air. One of the best for bringing balance to the mind is alternate nostril breathing or Nadi Shodhan Pranayama.
- Sit comfortably with your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.
- Place your left hand on the left knee, palms open to the sky or in Chin Mudra (thumb and index finger gently touching at the tips).
- Place the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows. We will use the ring finger to open or close the left nostril and thumb for the right nostril.
- Gently press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out through the left nostril.
- Now breathe in from the left nostril and then press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. Removing the right thumb from the right nostril, breathe out from the right.
- Breathe in from the right nostril and exhale from the left. You have now completed one round.
- Complete 9 rounds.
Until tomorrow, loves,
This week we continue our chakra work by focusing on the solar plexus chakra or manipura.
Solar Plexus Chakra Basics
The solar plexus chakra is located along the spine midway between the navel and sternum and is associated with the core muscles that stabilize the spine. The manipura is the seat of our personal power, self-control, and our energy. Much of the focus of the third chakra hinges on our relationships with others and the exchange of energy that occurs when we connect with others.
When the solar plexus chakra is too closed, we fail to recognize our personal power, have low self-esteem, and stagnate because we fear takings risks. When it is too open, we are workaholics and abuse power by lording our will over others. Physically, we suffer from weight issues, nausea, and digestive problems.
When in balance, we our power comes from personal empowerment. We are fully alive, awake, and productive. We do not fear taking risks and know we can learn from our failures as well as, if not more than, our successes. We are respectful of ourselves and others and our relationships are based on equal exchanges with others. Our value in life is not based on what we do but rather who we are.
Healing Through Meditation and Visualization
We can awaken the chakras in many ways, including meditation and visualization. Included here are some simple suggestions.
Light meditation: The color of the manipura is yellow. Meditate on the power of our internal sun, growing and glowing in the space between the navel and sternum. Feel that warm yellow light spinning and radiating from the core of who we are. Feel that energy rising along the spine with each inhale, lengthening and strengthening the spine; with each exhale, relax. Feel the body alive with warmth, energy, and power.
Mantra meditation: You can meditate using a simple mantra. The simplest option is to repeat “I do” with each breath, mentally saying “I” with the inhale and “do” with the exhale. Or you could vocalize the Bija mantra of the solar plexus by taking a deep breath in and chanting “RAM” on the exhale (the “a” sounds more like calm than lamb or click here to hear the correct pronunciation).
Visualization: The element associated with the solar plexus is fire. You can use this adaptation of a meditation from 1001 Meditations by Mike George:
Think of the people in your life who have made you feel strong and valued. Close your eyes and imagine yourself inside a cozy cabin gathering around a fire with these people while a blizzard swirls outside. Feel your body warmed by the fire, your heart by the company. See each glowing face around you. Connect with their beauty and individuality. Feel the sense of connection and your own glowing inner strength.
Until tomorrow, peaceful warriors,