I so appreciate the moments when some long-forgotten technique, thought, or person suddenly crops up “out of nowhere.” These instances heighten my faith that that which we do not know and can not see have our best interests and the greater good in hand. “In hand” is fitting for today’s post, as this Silent Sunday presents a lovely, soothing mudra, which is accompanied by a pranayama that demands and results in sharpened focus, and also yields abundant insight.
In keeping with the idea of “out of left field” appearances, this practice practically fell into my lap. I had been searching for the meaning behind a mantra that began to chant itself during recent meditations. Rifling through my collection of kriyas and meditations from kundalini teacher training, the notebook flipped open to today’s offering. I am almost always bound to see such occurrences as signs, i.e., “This is what you need.”
Part of what I value about this particular practice is the official title as decreed by Yogi Bhajan: “Meditation for When You Don’t Know What to Do.” The base, achingly human notion behind the words immediately uplifts me: Even the most adept practitioners doubt, flounder, and come up short sometimes. They became adepts, however, because they muddled through those moments with faith, determination, and discipline.
The mudra is simple, although it does not feel entirely natural at first (at least not to me): I literally became “all thumbs” when I first tried to create the gesture. Place the back of one hand into the palm of the other: Go with your instinct, and with what feels right. Then, lay the thumb of the bottom hand into the palm of the top hand; press the thumb down into the palm with the other thumb.
I often like to place the mudra on my heart, or with palms close to and facing the heart. The prescribed version, however, holds the mudra slightly away from and below the heart, with the palms tilted up at an angle. Again, go with your kinesthetic intuition.
The pranayama is fun, in my opinion, but does require concentration until it becomes automatic. The series is in four parts: The way I remember the sequence is that Part One and Three start with nose breaths; Part Two and Four begin with mouth breathing.
!) Inhale and exhale deeply through the nose;
2) Inhale and exhale through the mouth.
Special note: I vary the prescription of Part Two by breathing in through my tongue curled like a straw, and breathing out through O-shaped lips.
3) Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.
Special note: For the mouth exhale in Part Three, I enjoy tongue-out Lion’s Breath, or double exhale (“Hunh-huuunh”).
4) Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the nose.
Ideally, you would practice this meditation for at least 11 minutes, and up to half an hour. That may sound like a long time if you are new(-ish) to meditation, but the initial need to concentrate on the breathing technique makes the time move surprisingly quickly. That said, I suggest that in your first attempts, you do not think of time: Practice for however long it takes to feel somewhat comfortable with the technique. Once familiarity develops, the pleasant power of this meditation likely will draw you in for a longer sitting.