It is easy for us to become vulnerable during the transition period between the Fall and Winter seasons.
In Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old sister science of yoga, this period is known as Vata season. A time when the elements of space and air dominate our environment and being.
The ability to stay grounded, centered, and calm becomes increasingly important in a time of a Vata imbalance.
Practicing mindfulness techniques, particularly those focused on the breath, have a direct relationship to our thoughts and emotions and can help us stay grounded. Sitting in stillness daily with our focus on our breath can help calm our nervous systems and minds.
We habitually either suppress unpleasant thoughts or obsess over them. The goal of a meditation practice is not to rid ourselves of thoughts or emotions, but rather to become more aware of how we react to them and how we can maneuver around them without getting stuck.
Thousands of thoughts arise in the mind each day. Similar to the way clouds pass in the sky, we can allow our thoughts to pass by observing them with non-attachment (known as Vairāgya in the Yoga Sutras).
Begin in a comfortable seated position—either on the floor, a prop or a chair with your spine straight. Make sure you are someplace where you won’t be distracted or bothered.
Close the eyes. Give yourself your own undivided attention by unplugging the chords that connect to the outside world. Take these 15 or 20 minutes to connect with your higher Self.
Once you find your seat, become as still as possible. Try to find stillness in relaxation, rather than by tensing up.
Let the breathe naturally flow in and out of your nostrils. Notice the temperature of your breath: the cooling nature of the inhalation and the warming quality of the exhalation.
Observe the speed of your breath. Is it fast and rushed or slow and smooth? Slowly begin to soften the breath by lengthening your exhale and relax any holding patters in the jaw, throat and chest.
Focus your attention and breath into the heart center (Anahatha chakra) and begin to observe any subtle feelings or emotions that may arise. Breath should be calm and steady. Take nine deep breaths at your heart center.
Do not try to resist your thoughts. Allow them in and let them pass.
Observe your thoughts, give them a big hug, and let them go. Become aware of the constantly changing process of thinking rather than to the substance of your thoughts. If your attention wanders, slowly return to your breath back to the heart center.
Visualize a luminous sun rising in your heart center. Allow the heat of the sun to melt away tension in your shoulders and across your throat. Begin to take the energy from your heart and bring it down to the base of the spine.
Energetically, this area is known as the Muladhara Chakra and is responsible for stability and grounding. Take nine smooth, deep breaths focusing on this chakra.
Take your time in between repetitions to notice any subtle changes in your breathing pattern, state of mind or emotions. Allow the breath to slowly return to a natural cycle.
Feel the energy within you become balanced and aligned, similar to the way a spinning top moves in perfect balance. When you feel complete, bring your palms together in front of your heart and bow your head to the light within.
Acknowledge and give thanks to all that moves—in and out of your heart.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may our thoughts, words, and actions contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.)
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Mihir Garud
Editor: Emma Ruffin
Photo: Alice Popkorn/Flickr