A few days ago, I was reminiscing with a friend about the game Mad Libs, which I recalled playing over and over with my family on long car trips. The pad of fill-in-the-blank stories required players to supply a word—verb, noun, adjective, etc.—to complete what almost always turned into a ridiculous story of complete nonsense. The recollection stirred thoughts of a quick version with regard to a burgeoning new year.
This Silent Sunday, we are about two days shy of that New Year. This is the time that resolutions and intentions reach a fever pitch; it is also the time when we may look back on the past year. For some, the following fill-in-the-blank statements reflect typical thoughts of regret and resolve: “During this past year, I wish I had _____; I wish I had not _______. During this coming year, I will ________; I will not _________.”
And yet, these declarations represent but a small part of Life and how we live it. While many of us often focus on changes we would like to make in our material, earthly realm, it is less common to hone in on the energetic aspects that imbue and surround us as we move through time and space. Thus, today’s practice emphasizes the gathering and release of last year’s personal and universal energies; then, we connect our cleared, firm foundation to the spiritual realms of intuition and divine guidance. Ultimately, the likelihood of practical goals and dreams manifesting increases by dint of their alignment with universal energy.
To begin, sit in an easy crossed-leg pose: Perch on the edge of a block or pillow if you feel a bit stiff. With your elbows bent and your hands in front of you, cup the hands lightly, as if holding a bit of water in each palm. Inhale fully; as you exhale, swing both hands up and nearly over your left shoulder. The action is as if you are tossing those handfuls of behind you, washing the energy of the past away. Inhale as the arms swing back to the neutral starting position, then exhale to swing them up and over the right shoulder. Develop a fairly rapid rhythm, and really let the arms swing freely.
The mantra to energize this release of energy is Har. With each backward toss (the exhalation), chant “Har.” Initially, chant aloud for 1 minute. Then, whisper the mantra for another minute; finish with a third minute of silent chanting. At each vocal level, ensure that the tip of the tongue makes direct contact between and behind the two front teeth; this point stimulates all of the nadis, or esoteric neuro pathways.
To transition to the future-oriented portion of the practice, come onto hands and knees for a few rounds of Cat/Cow. This will help to remove any tension in the hips and spine from the previous seated exercise. If you like, kneel on your pillow if you have sensitive knees.
When you are ready, sit back into a squat. Again, your pillow will come in handy if your heels can not comfortably rest on the floor in your crouch position: If that is the case, slide the edge the pillow (or rolled towel or blanket) under your heels to provide a bit of lift. Let the feet and knees turn out slightly, and have them about shoulder width or slightly wider: You want to be able to reach both arms through the legs.
Aim to be as precise as possible as you configure your body into this position. Ideally the spine is not rounded—it is aligned and upright in the squat: However, as this posture is not always easily accessible for some, work toward the pose with perseverance and equanimity. In your best version of squat (Crow Pose in kundalini yoga), extend both arms straight through the legs, interlacing the fingers and creating a pointer with both index fingers.
Reach long, no bend in the elbows, so that you feel a widening stretch between the shoulder blades. The arms should be at a height that puts the joined hands and extended-forward index fingers at eye level: Also, be sure that the thumbs also extend forward; their tips will lie at about the base of the pointer fingers.
Fix a steady gaze on the tips of the pointer. Allow your eyes to unfocus, so that your vision blends into the energy around and beyond your hands. Think of this as your “future space,” where you connect to the realm of personal and universal evolution: Therein lies the ability to align your earthly intentions with divine wisdom.
To ignite this powerful pose and its ability to guide you with infinite grace, begin Breath of Fire. Remember to keep the inhale and exhale rapid and equal; if you feel unable to find a rhythm, stick your tongue out and pant like a dog. When you are able, retract the tongue; keep “panting” from just above the navel point—rapidly inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Continue for 1-3 minutes, eyes open, and fixed on the infinite possibilities before you.
To close the practice, return to a seated posture of your choice. (If you feel the need to release any muscle tension, feel free to do that first.) With your eyes now closed, gaze steadily upward at the Third Eye. Allow your left hand to rest on or dangle off of the left knee, palm open and down; rest the back of the right hand on the right knee, palm up, again with a gentle cup shape.
With this balancing mudra, you will release any remains of old energy and graciously welcome the new energy which the Universe intends for you. Breathe deeply, in and out steadily through your nose. If you wish, you may combine the mudra meditation with a visualization: As you inhale, draw in opportunity and possibility through the open cup of your right hand; continue the exhale as you envision this fresh energy flowing up through the right arm and into your heart. Exhale, and relinquish any old negativity, moving it away from the heart, down the left arm, and expelling it through the down-turned left hand. Continue for 3-11 minutes, and then enjoy a full svasana of 3-5 minutes to integrate the overall energy of this potent practice.