You’ll Never Guess What Happens at Monday Yoga Classes at Sangha Space…
The theme for Monday evening yoga classes in September is Meditation. Monday we practiced metta bhavana mediation for ten minutes in the beginning of class and then at the end of class. Metta bhavana can be translated into loving kindness meditation. The meditation was broken up into four parts. Jean (the wonderful Monday night teacher) had us sit with our legs extended and our shoulders over our hips. She then asked us to meditate over this mantra: May I be well. May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be loved. The phrases were repeated over and over again for a few minutes. Next we were to change the focus of the mantra to someone we cared about. May you be well. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be loved. We were to meditate on the phrases for a few minutes with that person we cared about in our minds. Later, we extended the same phrases to a person that was an acquaintance of ours. Someone we didn’t know well but maybe our paths crossed occasionally. Last we were to think of someone that we were having an issue with or negative feelings toward and extend the loving meditation to them. We meditated on the same phrases with them in mind. We put it all together at the end of the class and extended the loving meditation to ourselves, a loved one, an acquaintance and someone who we had tension or negative feelings toward.
This loving meditation really had an impact on me that evening. Two minutes before I walked into the studio I was feeling extremely negative toward one of my neighbors in the building I live in. She isn’t especially pleasant and occasionally this gets to me. Since I live so close to the yoga studio (which I love) I hadn’t totally gotten over the latest annoyance by the time I entered the building. I was feeling bad about it because I really shouldn’t stress over dumb neighbor annoyances. It doesn’t get me anywhere. By the time class started and we began the meditation I was no longer thinking of my neighbor or what had annoyed me to begin with. Then we got to the step about turning the mantra toward a person who we were having negative feelings toward. I, naturally, thought of this person. First it brought up the annoyance from earlier and then more annoyances. I started to stress and had to try harder to focus on positive thoughts toward this person: May she be well. May she be happy. May she be peaceful. May she be loved. After repeating this over and over for a few times I began to feel positive. I no longer held the anger I did earlier about the situation. Success 🙂
I don’t do seated meditation too often. I am always slightly nervous about sitting still with my own stillness for too long. However, the experiences I have had with mediation have all been positive. I took a mediation workshop once a few years ago and it was pretty neat. Afterwards, I told myself that I would sit and meditate more often. I downloaded some guided meditation audio tracks and did pretty regularly for a few weeks. Then I just stopped. I liked doing it but I never made time to be consistent with it after a while. I kept getting distracted by myself. I would think about the dishes that may or may not be in the sink, or what was going on in the next room, or where was the cat? He was just here a minute ago? Or shouldn’t I be finishing this or that instead of sitting here listening to the lulling voice of someone telling me to think of ocean waves?? Next thing I know ocean waves and floating thoughts are getting tuned out and I am done with the guided meditation. After a time I convinced myself that my yoga practice was the only form of meditation that I needed. Yoga is a form of meditation. When I am in the “vinyasa flow zone” I feel completely connected and amazing. It is wonderful! Yet, I think that sitting in meditation on a daily basis will only improve the connectedness I feel to myself in my yoga practice. Meditation has many benefits and people who practice it often say it improves their lives. Some scientifically proven benefits include: increased immunity, emotional balance, calmness, and lowering of blood pressure ( cited in 2012 online article Food Matters) All of these benefits are obtainable through practicing yoga. I feel now that if I also incorporate more meditation into my daily life in addition to doing yoga I will be that much better off!
I am challenging myself to start doing a seated meditation every day for one month. I just decided this as I was writing this blog post because why not? I will begin this evening and see where it takes me! I will try not to get distracted by the things that I let get into my head last time I tried to make it a habit. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some ocean wave thoughts to attend to…..