The eight limbs of yoga are comprised of the tools said to bring you along the path to enlightenment. One of those tools is asana — or the physical postures. Four of the eight limbs, on the other hand, are dedicated to styles of meditation. I often say in my classes, "In the end, yoga is a practice of the mind." In my nearly 11 years teaching yoga, I've heard it all. "I don’t meditate." "I can’t sit still for long." "I’ll never be able to quiet the mind."
In fact, I've often felt this way too. I've felt defensive, raw, and even protective about my personal meditation. I was introduced to meditation as a child from my mom. I felt I could never quite do it right. But what is "right?"
Years ago, I started my own process, free from judgment and justification. I took the moments I could, when I could. The process has helped me be a better parent and yoga teacher, manifest huge dreams, and feel better physically.
Here are some easy, simple ways to get meditation into your busy life and busy mind:
1. Arrive to yoga class a few minutes early and sit (or even lie down), breathe and allow your mind to be in the same place as your body.
2. The few moments before bed, sit upright, close your eyes and focus on smooth, full breaths.
3. Upon waking in the morning, sit upright, close your eyes and visualize how you want your day to progress.
4. A few times a year, sit somewhere quiet in your house and envision your biggest dreams. Be specific. Believe they've already happened. Picture a "by when" date for these dreams. After a few minutes, open your eyes and write down all that you thought about and hang that paper somewhere you can see it, every day.
5. Use prayer beads. Sit with prayer beads (mala, rosary) and hold each bead repeating a mantra (word or phrase). It's a simple, directed way to keep the mind focused on one thing.
6. Try moving meditation. Whether you're walking, practicing tai chi, or completing a yoga mala, you can do repetitive movement and use the movement to delve deeper into the mind.
Most importantly, when moving into a regular meditation practice, remember kindness, patience and love for yourself. Allow yourself to try and try and try again, without judgment. A little bit goes a long way.
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