There is a lot of research coming out these days showing the power of silence to heal our brains and nervous systems. What happens if we find some quiet time but our thoughts are still loud and driving us crazy?
This article was circulating around Facebook a few weeks ago. Very interesting stuff! http://www.lifehack.org/377243/science-says-silence-much-more-important-our-brains-than-thought
The research on silence may dove-tail with the abundant research on how meditation heals the brain and nervous system. Perhaps one of the main healing components of meditation is just the silence itself. Finding some quiet time - no phones, computers, radio, other people - that is a good start!
Now, actually intentionally sitting for meditation is different....
Because when we sit for meditation we realize that although the environment around us is quiet, our thoughts are really very loud! Constantly talking, judging, analyzing, projecting, computing, worrying, creating, dreaming.... There is a famous analogy in the Yogic tradition likening our mind to a team of crazy wild horses pulling a carriage every-which way. Seem familiar?
Is it even possible to quiet the mind? The answer is YES! But not by stopping your thoughts. It is by refocusing your attention on the Heart that deep inner silence is found. Think of this practice as Heartfulness. Heart-fullness instead of Mind-fullness! By focusing on the very deepest most loving Source of our own Beingness - we connect with something deeper, slower, more open and spacious... The deepest healing lies within.
Nicole Becker is the founder and lead teacher at Ojas Yoga Center, El Cerrito and a teacher of Heartfulness Meditation. She teaches regular weekly yoga classes and offers private yoga & meditation instruction. Join her upcoming retreat "Wisdom of the Quiet Heart | Spiritual Yoga Retreat", Sept-15-18. Details here
What are we advancing, anyway?
I often like to point out that putting your leg behind your head doesn't make you a better person. What trait would you prefer in a friend if you had to choose? Flexibility or a loving heart? What makes an advanced yoga practice is not how flexible you are or how fancy your poses. What makes an advanced yoga practice is your ability to let go into your own naturalness.
Drop the Agenda, Ma'am.
Most people practice yoga in order to gain a certain result - get strong, get flexible, get thinner, get peaceful. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with setting goals, the tendency can be to override our more intuitive functions and end up insulting and punishing the body in the pursuit of some goal that our ego/personality set up. An advanced yoga practice is one that is without agenda. Dropping agenda allows you to witness and love yourself exactly as you are. Ironically, when we liberate ourselves from the ceaseless goals, we gain everything. In this place of deep love an acceptance our yoga practice nourishes us rather than depletes us.
Advanced Yoga for EveryOne
Everyone who has a breath can practice yoga. The key is to adapt the postures and practices to the individual, not the individual to the practice. Better to take a simple posture with loving awareness and a complete and natural breath than be sweating bullets and panting your way through a posture that you are not ready for. The advanced yoga student is anyone who can practice simply as a celebration of the body, breath and life, as it is given today.
I bow to my heart, and to my teachers and my teachers' teachers.
Over-thinking takes us away from the deep inner peace in our Heart. It is important to practice getting out of our head and going into our deepest Heart where inner peace is revealed as our True Nature.
Since our culture values and promotes mental/intellectual activity it is only natural that we try to use our mind to solve the puzzle of finding inner peace. We may try meditation and mindfulness but it ends up being another mental activity; mindfulness is quite literally full of mind. The mind watching the mind is like two mirrors facing each other. The reflections are endless but they are two flat surfaces. They do not lead anywhere. True inner peace comes by learning by rest our attention in our deepest Heart. Our true spiritual Heart is endlessly deep, peaceful, and alive; full of love and free of mental activity. It is here that we "step through the looking glass" to the real reality of our Self free of limitations.
I have studied heart-centered meditation from various wisdom traditions for over two decades, but by far the quickest method is the one taught by my parents, Ruth and Bruce Davis. They graciously offer their teachings at Silent Stay Retreat Center in Vacaville, CA. I am honored to offer these one-on-one teachings as well during my yoga & silence retreats and with private clients. More about my retreats and private sessions.
In Ayurveda (Traditional Indian Medicine), there are three main forces that determine your health and well-being: Ojas, Tejas, and Prana. Ojas is your reservoir of health, resilience and vitality. It is the most subtle form of the water element and, since we are mostly water, it is the most important and fundamental aspect of your health and well-being.
Think of Ojas like a deep well that your body relies upon for life, just like a remote homestead might depend on a well for its drinking water. If you had to rely upon a well for your all your water needs, you would be sure that it was clean and full and you likely would feel stressed or in ill health if it was depleted or contaminated. Same with your body and Ojas.
The incessant pace of modern life is an assault on our senses and depletes our reservoir of Ojas. The chronic stress of over-work, over-thinking, and over-exercising draw so much water from our reservoir that we suffer on all levels. Signs of low/weakened Ojas are low immunity, chronic pain/illness, mental imbalances (anxiety, depression), and feelings of apathy.
In contrast, a full well of strong Ojas results in radiant and resilient health, happiness, and wisdom.
Ojas is strengthened by calming, quieting, nourishing and joyful activities, that connect us with the deep peace of our innermost nature.
Hatha Yoga was designed to help you fill your deep well with lots of strong Ojas! Done properly, with slowness, kindness, attention to the breath and Heart/Spirit, your Yoga practice will nourish you for your whole life.
Check out our full schedule of Hatha Yoga classes
Or join an upcoming Deep Well Retreat!