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The 4 Keys to Meditation

BREATHE – establish a deep and smooth ujaii breath exchange. Breathe in and out through the nose, accessing space deep in the diaphragm triggering relaxation response via sensory receptors.

 

ALIGN- Sit tall like a pillar, utilizing the bandhas to stabilize the core to support a straight spine. Establishing a firm base with knees settled below hip level, closing the eyes.

 

OPEN- Send the breath to closed or tight spaces in the body and mind. Be open to the emotions and intuitional feeling that arise during the meditative process.

 

TRUST – Trust the body and mind to develop the skill to sit in peace. Trust the practice of meditation over time to bring peaceful change to daily life. Trust the healthy path you have chosen to pursue.

 

 

Meditation Posture

When we practice meditation we need to have a comfortable seat and a good posture.

When we practice meditation we establish a comfortable seat and a straight spine posture to open the chakras and encourage flow of prana. The most important feature of the posture is to keep our back straight. To help us do this, if we are sitting on a cushion we make sure that the back of the cushion is slightly higher than the front, inclining our pelvis slightly forward. Some of us sit on a yoga block to raise the hips. It is fine to place a folded blanket on top of a block to achieve the desired height. It is not necessary at first to sit cross-legged, but it is a good idea to become accustomed to sitting in the posture of Buddha Vairochana. If we cannot hold this posture we should sit in one which is as close to this as possible while remaining comfortable. Props are our friends. Blocks are provided to happy vibe students. Friends enjoy bringing their own cushions and blankets to yoga and meditation classes.

The seven features of Vairochana’s posture are:

(1)     The legs are crossed in sukasana or ardha padmasana. This helps to reduce thoughts and feelings of attachment.

(2)     Yogi’s choice : select a mudra for hands that pleases you:

MUDRA FOR BEGINNING OF CLASS

 

 
Jhana and chin mudra : the gesture of knowledge - in this the index finger is bent so that its tip is joined with the tip of the thumb, the other three fingers are spread out. It is our tradition in happy vibe yoga to select this mudra at the beginning of class with the right palm down , symbolizing receiving knowledge and the left palm up, symbolizing the teaching and learning exchange that happens in each class.

 

Dhyana mudra for meditative contemplationThe right hand is placed in the left hand, palms upwards, with the tips of the thumbs slightly raised and gently touching. The hands are held about four fingers’ width below the navel. This helps us to develop good concentration. The right hand symbolizes method and the left hand symbolizes wisdom – the two together symbolize the union of method and wisdom. The two thumbs at the level of the navel chakra symbolize the blazing of inner fire.
(3) The back is straight but not tense. This helps us to develop and maintain a clear mind, and it allows the subtle energy winds to flow freely.
(4) The lips and teeth are held as usual, but the tongue touches against the back of the upper teeth. This prevents excessive salivation while also preventing our mouth from becoming too dry.
(5) Engage Jalhara banda :The head is tipped a little forward with the chin slightly tucked in so that the hooded lids are cast down the nose (shiva gaze) or closed with focus at third eye.  
(6) The eyes are neither wide open nor completely closed, but remain half open and gaze down along the line of the nose. If the eyes are wide open we are likely to develop mental excitement and if they are closed we are likely to develop mental sinking.
(7) The shoulders are level and held over the hips by use of core stability.

 
    Do you have discomfort when sitting from meditation?

Breathe, breathe, and breathe. Provide the body with a fine base when we establish our seat. The upper body can feel light as a feather with shoulders aligned over hips and heart lifted. Sometimes I feel like my ribs are floating up from my hips !Raising the hips above the knees is advised to keep the spine straight, the knees softer due to the hips opening as the pelvic bowl tips forward. This can be accomplished through sitting on the forward edge of stacked blankets or sitting on a zabuton. Some students are best served by sitting on the edge of a chair, spine straight and away from the back of the chair, with feet resting on a pillow or blocks to take stress off the low back. I tell students not to suffer through dis-ease of the body during meditation, but to either make micro adjusts to the posture or to send the breath in the areas revealed to hold tightness. Sometime breathing into constrictions can help soften and strengthen the pose. The body remembers. Take note of these areas and let those acknowledgments float away, as if on a balloon, to be reclaimed later. The body can spark our intuition to foster awareness and promote change when we pay attention.

 
    3 simple mudras of meditation:

Drona mudra –simply place hands on knees- If you find that this is not comfortable, making minor adjustments may set you up for a more stable “seat”. Place hands on knees and bring elbows in toward the waist. Relax the arms to fall naturally, the hands reaching to the knees. This should help settle the hands on the knees at the comfortable proper angle to avoid shifting, fidgeting and sliding.

Gayan mudra: A hallmark of the Sikh and Hindu meditation traditions. Promotes going inward, preparing for meditation. Thumb tips and index fingers meet, forming a closed circle, closing a subtle body energy circuit, aiding the mind in going inward.

Cosmic Mudra: A hallmark of Zen and Buddhist meditation practice, place right hand in your lap and cradle the left hand in right, having the thumb tips gently resting end to end.


A note from Tom:

Alert and Relaxed

If you are like me, from time to time, you may find yourself dosing off during meditation. Have you ever heard your own snore and awakened only to find others in the class looking or smiling? Take these tips from master teacher Rolf Sovic and learn to manage the urge to sleep with the practice of breath awareness.

1. Sit comfortably erect. Use a chair or a wall to support your spine if helpful.

2. Close your eyes and begin to follow the movements of your breathing. Stay with the breath for a few minutes, until your focus is steady.

3. Without losing your breath awareness, relax your body just as if you were settling it into bed.

4. Continue to follow your breath, maintaining your breath awareness,gently  directing your attention back to the breath should attention wander.

5. Relax your mental effort. Maintain a steady hold on your breath, yet relax your body and mind.

6. Now begin to silently recite the mantra so-hum. Let that sound flow with each breath—so on the inhalation and hum on the exhalation. Sense that these sounds are gently blowing away layers of ashes that cover the embers of consciousness in you.

7. The urge to sleep may come and go, but do not let it dislodge your relaxed breath awareness. Gradually, as you become more rested, your sleepiness will diminish or even disappear.