In our modern society we are conditioned to always be "doing." We fill our schedules to always be busy and even during lulls we grab for our phone, turn on music or television, or worry about what just happened or is next to come. Sitting still in complete silence can be quite a challenge. One of the ways meditation is so rewarding is that you train your ability to slow down, turn off devices, disengage from the busy world, and just breathe. The simple act of sitting still for 5 minutes in a quiet room can be daunting when we live our lives constantly "doing", but with practice it gets easier. After practicing meditation regularly you may even find that your ability to be still and present is showing up in other areas of your life.
On your yoga mat you have tools to help you be present with the given moment and pose. Use your drishti (gaze) to focus on a single spot of the room or mat and really see what you are looking at. Breathe actively with your ujayi breath to remain focused. Begin with your foundation, your feet, on your mat and travel up each part of your body engaging your muscles along the way, all the way to the crown of your head. Do this purposefully with each pose. If you notice your mind wandering to events that happened before your practice or your to-do list, recognize them non-judgmentally, then return your attention to your mat.
Try this on during child's pose. Press your forehead down into your mat and set your gaze to one point. If your eyes are closed, focus through the center of your forehead. Breathe slowly and fully. Ground your hands into your mat and press your hips down toward your heels. Remain here for 10 breaths. If you find your mind wandering, notice it, then return to your pose.
As Baron Baptiste states in 40 Days to a Personal Revolution, "Our culture leads us to believe that our problem is with food, or our boss, or our relationships, but really, these things are not the problem. The problem is that we have disconnected from consciousness and gone to sleep." This week off your mat, try on being present. In conversations with your friends, family, coworkers set down technology and engage fully. Presence is a practice; for both on and off your mat.
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