“The real payoff of a yoga practice, I came to see, is not a perfect handstand or a deeper forward bend—it is the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life.” ― Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat
The Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year, is almost upon us here in New England. With the season, thoughts often turn inward as we reflect upon the past year and dream about a new year that’s just a bit better, brighter, healthier, and more relaxed. This season I’d like to plant a seed – an idea that the life you’re living is completely unique and miraculous, I mean really. Nobody like you has every existed (you are literally 1 in 108 billion), and nobody like you will ever exist once you’re gone. My question to you is “What happens if you arrive at the end of your life only to realize you’ve totally missed this one precious life that you were given? When the moments where you chose to pay bills or cross off another item on your to-do list rather than holding your beloved’s hand, walking in the rain, or gazing at the stars comes to mind?”
Can you remember the last time you felt curious, conscious, connected, alive? With more than twenty years on the spiritual path, it wasn’t until I truly understood the value of releasing the “know-it-all” mind and cultivating a “beginner’s mind” – that my life shifted for the better, that I truly understood the power of the moment-to-moment newly born self.
Don’t waste another moment – join us today for Tai Chi, meditation, or choose a class from our wide variety of yoga styles. Explore our dynamic programming, here, designed to help you reconnect to your 1 in 108 billion, miraculous self.
Asana: Child’s Pose (Bālāsana)
Child’s Pose is a gentle resting pose that stretches the hips, thighs and legs, while the attention is softly resting on the breath.
This pose can help to relax the spine, shoulders, and neck, but do exercise caution if you have high blood pressure, are pregnant, or have hip, leg or ankle injuries, use modifications such as resting your forehead on a cushion, or rest your arms forward, shoulder width apart to allow your head to rest on the floor. As with any posture that feels uncomfortable, slowly come out of the pose.
- Begin on your hands and knees in Table Pose (Bharmanasana)
- Let your attention rest on the breath and allow your thoughts to slow down
- Bring your knees wide apart while allowing your big toes to touch.
- Sit back and rest your buttocks on your heels.
- On an exhalation, bow forward and let your torso rest between your thighs.
- Your heart and chest can rest between or on top of your thighs.
- Allow your forehead to rest on the floor.
- Rest your arms long and extended in front of you, palms facing down. Lengthen from your hips to your armpits, extending out through your fingertips.
- Completely relax your elbows, shoulders, and soften our back and sacrum.
- Allow the eyes to remain closed and rest in this pose breathing softly until you feel compelled to release the posture.
- Gently use your hands to walk yourself back to an upright posture sitting on your heels.
- Breathe in. Breath out.
Meditation: Cultivating Beginner’s Mind
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”
― Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Are you willing to let go of being an expert? Can you allow your mind to be filled with curiosity and a sense of wonderment? Perhaps you may need to think back to a time when you were young and everything was new, or maybe you felt that sense of curiosity and aliveness when you traveled to a new town, or a distant country, where you experienced new food, a different language, or heard the sound of a bird you’ve never met. In each moment you are in a unique position to truly experience a Beginner’s Mind. By bringing your attention to the present moment and with whatever is unfolding, without that need to know what’s going to happen, or why, or needing to receive something in exchange for the moment. With beginner’s mind, we become curious to the many possibilities and experiences from moment to moment.
- Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be interrupted for a ten minutes.
- Allow the eyes to close if that’s comfortable, or if you’d prefer, the eyes can stay open with a soft gaze toward the floor.
- Tune in to present moment sounds. What do you hear outside the room? Inside the room? Become curious – are the sounds loud or soft? Steady or intermittent? Do the sounds rise and fall (like a passing automobile)? Are the sounds sweet (like the song of a bird), or jarring (like a smoke detector)?
- Become even more curious. Where do the sounds originate? What would your experience be like if every sound that ever began had no ending? What happens to sound when nobody hears it?
- Allow your eyes to open and be curious about what the eyes are seeing. Use a magnifying glass to look at every day objects from a different perspective.
- Breathe in. Breathe out. The possibilities are endless!
- Lisa Campbell, Meditation & Yoga Manager, Release Well-being Center
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