Updated: Jul 18
By Aleksandra Horwood
There is a way not to respond to fear, anger or desire habitually. By now, we have adopted different ways of coping with these tendencies or occurrences, based on our family background, social status or simply a level of awareness.
At the moments like these, when we are more often than not, left alone with our minds when the sources of distraction are limited, I think these moments are the best for familiarizing yourself with your mind’s ways of being.
The state of matter, if we can say that mind is a matter, invites the scheduled time and the repetitive process of self-discovery. Why repetitive? We change every single moment and we need to do something more often in order to really get a grasp of it. Remember cooking, driving a car, playing basketball or playing the piano? What we are going to approach here is not a small task and doesn’t happen overnight, but it has a tremendous positive impact on our life and life of others around us. (Ask my husband.)
So, are you ready? Are you intrigued? Or are you put off now? It seems like a huge endeavour, but trust me - it is the most natural process on the planet Earth - to become familiar with your own mind. We just need to keep doing it, even when just 5 minutes a day. Now I will describe the outer environment and a bit of inner process, but if you have extra time you can also watch my video on YouTube, where I can demonstrate it fully: https://youtu.be/cdVoJI_GYjE
If you have any serious mental health issues, I would suggest you contact your counsellour or doctor first as the moments of tranquillity may bring up serious traumas or memories that we cannot cope with all alone.
Meet your boss, your mind
In case you live on your own, you can create a special place where you can sit and rest your body and mind with a couple of cushions and a blanket or two. Whenever you wish to or need to, simply sit down and enjoy the easiness of pre-designed space for an unlimited amount of time.
If you live with others, you might need to be a bit creative and improvise where you can settle and you might need to negotiate the time and the circumstances. There is always an oasis of a bedroom, where you might be able to disappear or a corner in your garden. Make sure you stay warm, but not too cosy so you just drift away or fall asleep. First, the posture. The widespread image of a yogi sitting cross-legged in samadhi might be out of reach for most of us and also not really necessary to imitate. If you can sit on a floor, that might be very useful as you don't need much and you can practice anywhere, anytime. But if you cant, don't despair. Most of us will need something to sit on, even if it is a yoga block, a big dictionary, a cushion, a folded blanket or a sweater. You can be as innovative as you want to. Some of us might have bought or made themselves cushions filled with buckwheat hulls, for instance.
There are limitless possibilities to explore and play with, but I would suggest before you establish a regular sitting practice and discover what you really need, leave that for later. For now, utilise whatever you see around you.
HOW TO SIT
In the beginning, you might even need to sit on a chair or a sofa or the edge of the bed. Whatever you do, try to have something to lean against, with some soft cushioning, folded duvets, anything that can be used as a reference point for you to make sure your spine is straight. If your feet are on the floor, make sure they point forwards, second toe pointing straight ahead and your heels are more apart so that outer edges of your feet are parallel. The body weight is evenly distributed between both sitting bones and they are in a neutral position. Sitting bones? A pair of rounded bones that extends from the bottom of the pelvis. They are the bones that we sit on the front or the back of them. Men mostly sit on the back of the sitting bones, almost on the tailbone.
Once you found the (almost) perfect connection of your sitting bones with the floor, chair, sofa or whatever you are sitting on, your pelvis will feel well-positioned and your spine can finally extend upwards. The muscles of the vertebral column will support you, but the static of the body is crucial. The chest is not leaning backwards nor forwards, it is exactly above your pelvis. Drop the chin and rest your hands wherever they feel the most comfortable. The softness of your eyes and your tongue will test if you are relaxed. Release the tension inside of your head and then outside, the facial skin, sides of the neck, throat. Keep your eyes open and relax the gaze, without focusing on anything in particular.
The only sure thing until the day we die is that we will breathe in, so focus only on the prolonged exhalation and allow the breath to come in naturally. Enjoy the process of reentering this precious space of love and peace.
Watch A Beginner's Guide to Yoga and Meditation here: