Welcome back everyone! I hope that all your spring breaks were relaxing enough for you to help you make it through the next six or so weeks of classes and then final exams. I went to Gainesville, Georgia for a Spring Training trip with the crew team, so I did a little more work than I am used to on a break, but it was a great time! Better yet, the weather allowed for shorts and a t-shirt every day, in comparison to this winter Iceland where three layers isn’t enough some days. Unfortunately, until mother nature decided, we will all have to make do with what we get :(.
As our arsenal of yoga poses and practices increase and the semester moves on, I am planning to move into some meditation practices and possibly talk a little bit about the history of Yoga to spice things up a bit!
With that being said, I want to start by taking the time to explain what the purpose of meditation is, because when speaking of it in terms of Yoga, it is not defined as contemplation or deep thought; rather, meditation deals with resting one’s mind. When practiced properly, it is supposed to give a euphoric feeling of consciousness that differs from what you normally feel in your day-to-day life. During meditation, you are still fully awake and conscious; however, your focus is shifted into yourself instead of the events occurring externally. In a way, it being selfish enough to take fifteen to twenty minutes (or more if you are feeling it) to concentration on nothing but yourself. It’s human nature to be curious. From the moment we are born, we are exploring that world around us, very rarely do we ever take the time to examine the world within us. In my opinion, meditation is one of the hardest aspects of Yoga to practice. With the hustle and bustle of school, work, friends and family, it is hard to stop your mind from wandering or skipping ahead to plan what is going on tomorrow.
With the non-stop motion of life, the key to successful meditation is learning how to be still. Think about it: when was the last time you were still? Personally, I am one of those people that shake their leg when sitting which is the closest to still I come on some days. The first step of finding stillness is learning to be comfortable being motionless. (yes, this means learning to ignore that insistent need to get the itch on the tip of your nose). When motionless, most people sit in your imaginable meditating Buddha pose with legs in the crisscross-applesauce formation and hands resting comfortably on the knees, but you do not have to sit this way if you aren’t comfortable with it. After you achieve the level of comfort needed, you must then find a quiet place void of distractions. This could be your dorm room during times your roommate has class or even a quiet area in the library. Meditation also it involves focusing on your breath (like many aspects of Yoga). Lastly, when meditating in general, it is important to make sure you don’t get lost in the river of thoughts that is constantly running through your mind. When a thought comes up, simply acknowledge it for what it is at face value and allow it to move on without getting caught up in it.
In future posts, I will discuss some of the various type of meditations practiced in more depth, which will help give you all a more structured system for meditation. Until next time, I will leave you with the majestic words of University of Pennsylvania’s team muscle coach’s words: “calm feet make a calm mind.”