true freedom

One of my favorite physical aspects of practicing yoga is that there is nowhere on my back I cannot scratch (I am not suggesting this is true for everyone who practices yoga :-) ). One of my favorite mental aspects is the possibility that even when I feel an itch, I can feel it and not have to scratch.
I can, but I don’t have to.
This becomes more true all the time.

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Coming to Attention

Notice sometime when you are engaged in an activity that holds your attention. How you don’t have to try so hard to concentrate, it just happens. Spontaneous focus, effortless attention. Recognize what that feels like.

Then play with purposely focusing your attention while doing simple everyday things that are not so inherently interesting. Recalling the sense of ease you experienced when the focus happened spontaneously on its own.

Notice when you get distracted, and shift your mind back. No big deal. You might have to do it over and over again. Rather than fighting your mind, play with it. Keep coming back to what you are doing. Sharpening your mind with the focus, and letting your mind rest in attention.

Not to block out all of your thoughts, or that thinking or contemplation isn’t ever useful. Yet slowing down the momentum of your compulsive habitual thoughts and developing the capacity to pay attention at will. Not only when attention arises organically, whenever you want it, or need it.

By practicing this in less charged situations you give yourself experience so that when you find yourself in more difficult scenarios where you need to stay aware and important moments when you want to be present, you have developed an increased ability to do so by choice.

4 part tuning-in meditation

…can be used as a meditation, during yoga, and in the moment…

  1. Awareness inside your body – grounding yourself in your body.  Anyway that works.  Potentially – awareness radiating from the center of your body, just below your navel, all the way to the periphery of the skin – head, feet, hands, everywhere.  Simultaneously drawing awareness back from the periphery to hold the center.  Soften back into yourself.  It can go back and forth – outward, inward – and eventually, both at the same time.  Aliveness in the whole body.  Expansion and centeredness.  Balanced.
  2. Awareness of the room around you – the temperature, the atmosphere, anyone there with you.  Without having to engage or ignore, staying in your body and aware of what’s around you.
  3. Hear the sounds – without grasping to listen, let the sound come to you, in through your ears and translated on your eardrums.  Feel the sound in your body.
  4. Feel the breath breathing – as the breath comes in and fills you, you expand from the center of the chest, as the breath leaves, your body condenses back into the center of the chest.  As if you are breathed in and out of the heart, your whole body breathed like one giant lung.

All the while staying grounded in the body, eventually all four parts at the same time.  Whenever you find yourself distracted, just start over…

adapted from a practice by Parvathi Nanda Nath Sarasvati