I started learning meditation techniques more than 10 years ago.
Immediately, it became clear to me that meditation is necessary for my health and growth. It has always been clear to me that meditation is worthy of effort, but also it came clear how difficult it was to practice with a daily discipline.
I was a young, super-active undergrad, full of ambition and desire for dancing, fantasizing, meeting guys, laughing and exploring the world. I failed on many attempts to meditate regularly. I felt restless for many years; I went to retreats and then forgot about my mindful path and went again partying with a bottle of tequila.
Years of ecstatic craziness, confusion and suffering passed. Then I got to know yoga (I am talking about Hatha Yoga, the yoga practiced with postures for the body). I started to re-connect with inner health and discover a new way of “paying attention” through directing my mind to my body while doing a physical effort. This changed everything.
Now, I am finally feeling good about working with discipline—and even meditating after my yoga practice.
I want to invite you to try a simple yoga posture here. Right now.
This one is called Trikonasana (Sanskrit for Triangle Posture). We begin to get there by standing firm, by being alert.
Ready? Now inhale, and with a jump or a step, open your legs and arms.
Then we turn our right foot 90 degrees outward, and the left foot slightly to the right keeping the left leg stretched. Exhaling, we bend the upper body to the right taking the palm of our hand close to the right ankle. If possible extend this hand on the floor. Then we stretch the left arm up—keeping it in a straight vertical line—aligned with the right shoulder. Stretch your upper body, elongating the neck. Move your gaze towards your right left hand.
After the experience feels complete, turn to the other side. Now let’s do the real asana by consciously directing our attention. Note that our base in Trikonasana is grounded firmly.
We can feel our feet pushing against the floor, making clear an opposition of forces: our feet pressing down while we are also pushed back up, with the same strength in the opposite direction.
There are two arms that are going in different directions; one hand is striving towards the sky, while the other pushing toward the ground. We open our fingers reaching and expanding the space around us. Besides feeling our roots, we feel our elevation and the sky at the same time. It is possible that by feeling the energy of our ascending vertical, we feel taller, we become taller.
Holding our extremities together, there is our upper body reclined to one side and elongated. In the area of our abdomen is our center of gravity, where our equilibrium lies. We can observe our stability; we can cultivate our stability by being aware of it.
We can observe our breath. We can rest through our inhale and exhale; we can rest in the sensation of calmness that comes with the air in our body.
It is possible to connect with this calm that comes from our very chest. Be present with it.
With awareness we can note this relaxation and be open, we can feel gently alive.
Maybe you are not in yoga pants, but in jeans, standing in front of your partner who is making plans for the evening. But we may have a feeling that we have to ground and spend time on a “necessary fix;” like a house-repair, or a cleaning of closets—yet we also want to go for a bike ride on a dreamy sunny evening with our partner. We can succeed on doing both.
We can manage to “create time” or stretch every minute in a way that we solve the quotidian necessity and have free time with our partner. It is possible. We are more capable than we think we are! We root and we stretch high at the same time.
As many people do in the West world, we could do yoga asanas to increase our strength and flexibility, but there are many more layers in an asana. We can cultivate firmness, calmness and spaciousness. We can practice yoga to consciously transform our effort into brightness and peace.
We can practice yoga to consciously transform our effort into brightness and peace.
With awareness, we integrate a plurality of worlds, from the muscular, to the energetic; from the concrete to the boundless. With awareness, we can free our potential for positive action.
With awareness we are human, and being human is extremely precious.
Author: Mariana Robles Martinez
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen