I hope to blog about my practice and use this website as a hub for YogaWork’s teachers to share their experiences. I purchased Sharon’s book, Real Happiness, for my iPad, and the paperback version as well. The paperback includes a CD with four meditations.
There are many approaches to meditation, just as there are to yoga. My meditation practice began in the mid 1980’s with visualizations and affirmations. Over the next fifteen years, I evolved my own simple calming contemplative practice. Then, in 2000, I voyaged to the woods in North Fork, California, to join a ten day retreat in the Vipassana Meditation of Goenka. This highly structured form of meditation is what I have practiced ever since.
We sat in silence for ten hours a day. Grateful for my years of asana, my body was not a big distraction, although I pined for Downward Facing Dog. Or Headstand, or any kind of stretching! After several days I dropped into a rhythm of watching my busy mind and following my breath. This practice has strengthened my ability to witness things as they arise in the moment, the sensations, thoughts, feelings, drives, and emotions. It has been a powerful teacher. I am able to instantly feel, in my body, any reactions I have to a situation before responding. I try and drop into a centered place before replying. The practice has helped immensely.
My perennial quest has been to cultivate the skills that enable me to live with integrity, gratitude, respect, and compassion. These are my core values. I have used the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as a scaffold to understand the process that takes an event, action, sound, or thought, and evolves it into a complex pattern that ultimately becomes my view of reality. The Yoga Sutras has served me well for many years. More in another post on different commentaries!
Mindfulness Meditation draws its roots from Buddhist contemplative practices and is currently being applied in all walks of life, from the workplace to prisons, from depression and pain management to community building. It is in part this accessibility that I love, how it can be adapted and applied in so many ways.
The simplicity of the practice obscures its true depth and application, for it can literally reshape the brain. Currently, along with Real Happiness, I am also reading Dr. Daniel Siegel‘s book Mindsight. He is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and the co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, also at UCLA. I am fascinated by the implications of his work. We can rewire the brain, so that “neurons that fire together wire together”. To incite new neural activity in the brain he recommends lists four things: repetition, emotional arousal, novelty, and the careful focus of attention. I has always thought that “practice makes perfect”, or that the path of mastery revolves around practice. But novelty is important. So, I am ready to welcome new meditations!
Some of the practices that Sharon will use are referred to in Dr. Siegal’s book.
Sharon’s program is shaped like this:
Week One – Concentration Practice
Week Two – Mindfulness and the Body
Week Three – Mindfulness and Emotions
Week Four – Lovingkindness Practice
She suggests that one way to end a meditation practice is as follows:
“May the actions that I take toward the good, toward understanding myself, toward being more peaceful, be of benefit to all beings everywhere.” (from Real Happiness)
I love that!