Part of the strange irony of human existence is that we often feel profoundly alone, yet in reality, we are connected to everyone and everything.
When I lived in New York in my 20s, I would often go stand on my roof at night time and stare out at the city. I looked at the lonely squares of yellow light scattered near and far and wondered how it was possible to be in a place so densely populated and yet feel so isolated.
If I went up on that rooftop today, I would feel differently. With age and the study of yoga has come the certainty that I am never alone, nor could I be. I am part of this infinite thing we call whatever we call; Life, God, Nirvana, the Divine Being.
It is part of me; I am part of it.
Which is not to say, having come to believe that, that I don’t ever struggle with residual moments of loneliness—I do. And when I do, one of these two meditations helps immeasurably.
First, read the meditations through so you know them well enough to repeat them to yourself. It is not a script, and need not be an exact recitation, so this shouldn’t take much time. Having someone read them to you as you meditate is a great option as well.
For both meditations, I recommend a reclined posture such as savasana (resting or corpse pose), though for the second one, seated can work just as well, either on the floor on a soft cushion or blanket leaning against a wall or in an upright chair. Just make sure whatever position you choose can be maintained comfortably for at least 10 minutes.
Find your reclined meditation position, making sure your body is not touching anything except the floor. The hands should be away from the body and the legs apart, the feet allowed to fall where they will. Gently close your eyes.
Relax all the muscles in your face. Allow you facial skin to soften and become expressionless. Relax your neck. Relax your chest and your belly. See if your are holding extra tension in your belly. If you are, try to release it on your exhalations. Relax your arms and your hands, your knees and your feet. Scan your body for any residual tension. If you find some, try to release it on your exhalations.
Bring the attention to the breath. Do not alter it in any way, rather feel your chest and belly rise and fall and enjoy the natural rhythm of your breath. Pause here as long as you like, focusing on the breath and allowing tension to melt away. You feel heavy and relaxed, allowing your body to sink into the floor.
Begin to imagine you are floating in the middle of a great ocean. Your body stays afloat with no effort at all, and the water is just the right temperature. It rocks you gently.
Overhead is a great blue sky. See the sky in detail. Does it have clouds in it? How do they look? Are there birds flying overhead or is it empty? What time of day is it? Morning? Afternoon?
As the water rocks you, you feel more and more relaxed, unconcerned about anything in the past or the future. You realize you are not alone. Floating next to you is someone that you love. This may be a real or imagined person, someone dead or alive, a stranger or someone you know. Floating on the other side of you is another person that you love. That person may also be real or imagined, dead or alive, a stranger or someone you know. See these people in great detail.
You feel these two people reach to hold your hands, one on the right and one on the left. You float together effortlessly and silently, enjoying the sensation of ease and connection.
Without lifting your head, you see that the people on either side of you have people on either side of them, holding their hands and gently floating just as you are. You realize that there is an endless chain of people, holding hands and floating in this ocean, and the chain is so long it reaches from one side of the ocean to the other. You are all perfectly calm and perfectly happy, gazing up at the beautiful sky overhead. Pause here are long as you like.
When you are ready, carefully release the hand on the person to the right of you and the person to the left of you. Feel that all the people in the chain are releasing hands, but are still floating peacefully near one another. Slowly, the other people drift a little ways away, but you remain filled with their presence and know that if you just reach out, you can find them again. Pause here as long as you like and enjoy the feeling of being alone, while knowing that at any moment you choose, you can grasp the hand of a friend. Feel the water beneath you and see the sky overhead.
When you are ready, start to bring your attention back to the breath. Begin to deepen your inhales and your exhales. Wiggle your fingers and your toes. Roll over to your right side and rest your head on your arm, soaking in the sensations of the meditation. When you are ready, come up to seated, place the hands together in prayer and give thanks.
Find your meditation position, either lying down in savasana or seated (as described above). Get perfectly comfortable and settle in. Gently close your eyes. Relax all the muscles in your face, allowing the features to soften and the jaw to release. Maybe put a tiny smile on your mouth, a Buddha smile, which is the easiest way to maintain a relaxed and open feeling here. Relax the neck, the chest and the belly, pausing anywhere you feel tension and letting that tension melt away. Move on only when those places feel soft and heavy. Relax the arms and the hands, the knees and the feet. You feel calm and relaxed, becoming softer and heavier with each exhalation.
Bring the attention to the breath. Allow the breath to be natural, and observe it’s journey through your body. Feel the sensation of the air entering and leaving the nostrils. Notice how the chest and belly move with the breath. Anytime your thoughts wander, make a note of the thought without judgement and then return to the breath. You can label the thought with one word like “work”, “family”, “anger”, or “worry” and then just let it go. Do not become concerned if you need to do this many times. Pause here.
Now begin to imagine all the internal systems which make up your body. Your blood, your bones, your organs. Think of them in great detail, all working together to support your physical life. It is a miraculous system. Travel from your brain to your heart to your belly to your groin, finding all the natural power that lies in these places.
Now begin to imagine the cells that make up your body. When we think of organs, bones and blood, they seem to be separate things, yet when we think as all of these things as cells, we see that they are all made of the same material. Go further with this idea. See that all of our cells are composed of molecules, the tiniest building block in the body that we know. Imagine all the molecules of your body working together, spinning in a great complex dance, to support your physical life. You have been given the gift of this multidimensional body which does so much to support you every day.
Now realize the everything in the world is made up of molecules, just as your body is. There is really no difference between your body and the floor beneath it, the walls surrounding it, the people on the other side of the walls, the sun that shines above this room, or anything in the whole wide world. Every single thing is composed of molecules. Pause here to see this in great detail.
Now begin to see that the edges of your body are melting and blending with the floor beneath you. There is no clear line between where you end and the floor begins. See this very clearly. The edges of everything blend into the edges of everything else. There are no sharp corners or delineations. The entire world is simply a mass of molecules, working together in tandem. There is no separation between you and anything else.
Everything is one.
Pause here for as long as you like. Enjoy the feeling of connectedness and ease.
When you are ready, begin to deepen the breath. Wiggle the fingers and the toes and begin to bring awareness back to the body. Remember what you saw and know that it is true.
Everything is one.
When you are ready, gently open your eyes. If seated, place your hands together in prayer and give thanks, noticing that you are filled with positivity. If reclined, roll over and rest your head on your right arm for a few moments. Soak in the good feelings the meditation created. When you are ready, come to seated, place your hands in prayer, and give thanks.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise