With the recent onslaught of world, national, and popular culture news that has left many of us wondering how and who to trust, I began to contemplate ways to steady the mind and spirit amidst feelings of doubt and betrayal. While mulling the notion of trust and its loss, a personal situation arose that further stoked the fires of anger-based feelings. Such reactive emotions, regardless of their cause, can leave one feeling anchorless, even fearful.
I created the following practice to help one reorient when in the throes of perplexing thoughts and feelings. In order to help one return to psychological and spiritual “home base,” the routine includes: directional changes; Heart and Third Eye stimulation; and pranayama with mudra.
Special note: This practice also would help with problem-solving, or when you feel pulled in too many directions. The routine will help you to regain focus and confidence; you will be supplied with a dose of fresh perspective and clarity.
The entire practice is done standing. Imagine that your body is the needle of a compass that will be making quarter turns clockwise and counter-clockwise from your starting point facing “North.” Further visualize your hands and arms as antenna that receive, configure, and direct Universal energy into your center of being. The ability of your mind to create and consolidate these images and sensibilities forms the crux of the practice’s power.
Standing tall and relaxed, close your eyes, and bring your hands into Prayer Mudra at the Heart center. Bring your attention to your breath, consciously deepening and fulfilling each inhale and exhale. After about a minute of this dedicated breath, move your right hand to shoulder level; the elbow is bent, and tucked easily into the ribs. With the right hand in an easy fist facing forward (“North”), extend the index finger straight up. The left hand remains on the Heart; with your closed eyes gazing upward to the Third Eye, breathe deeply in through slightly parted lips. Exhale slowly through the nose. Continue for 30 seconds.
Then, with the left hand remaining on the Heart, extend the right arm straight out to the side at shoulder level, palm facing down, all fingers together and long: This is your “Compass Arm.” Turn 90 degrees to the right, so that you are now facing “East.” Here, eyes still closed and focused on the Third Eye, lower your right arm so that you bring the palm to rest on your Dan Tien (just below the belly button). Breathe in this position, in and out through the nose, for another 30 seconds.
Before your next 1/4 turn to the right (which will be “South”), once again extend the right arm out, palm down. Turn, and then extend the right arm directly overhead, as the left arm releases down to the side. Inhale, and then exhale as you bend to the left; inhale upright; exhale to return the left hand to the Heart, with the right arm returning to shoulder level and extending to the right.
Turn to face “West.” Replicate the East-facing position of left hand on the Heart, right on the Dan Tien. Again, breathe fully and steadily for 30 seconds. Then, move your right arm into Compass, left hand remaining on the Heart. Turn to come back to your starting point.
Facing North again, take a few easy breaths, in and out through the nose, with your arms relaxed by your sides, body aligned, but at ease. Then, with your left elbow bent by your ribs, make a loose fist of your left hand, index finger pointing straight up (palm facing forward). The right hand hovers a few inches above your head, further drawing in divine energy in through the Crown Chakra. Breathe here, closed eyes gazing intently up to the Third Eye, for about 30 seconds.
Before you turn to face West (i.e., now moving counter-clockwise), lower your right hand to rest on the Heart center, and create Compass Arm with the left. As you arrive to the West, extend both arms straight out at Heart level; bring the palms together, fingers long and together, thumbs lying straight out toward the index fingers. With your eyes open, focus pointedly out to the tips of the index fingers. Begin Breath of Fire through the nose. (You may need to start by panting rapidly in and out through the mouth, and then switch to nasal Breath of Fire when you find your rhythm): With this unbreakable gaze and powerful breath, you awaken and engage your intuition with the surrounding magnetic fields; this will help to clear your aura of negativity. Continue for 2 minutes.
Next, with the right hand once again on the Heart and left arm in Compass position, turn 90 degrees to face South. Mirroring the previous South posture, lower the right arm down to the side, and extend the left arm straight overhead by your ear. Inhale deeply: exhale as you side stretch to the right. Inhale to come up; exhale to bring the right hand to the Heart, and lower the left arm into Compass mudra.
Turn to face East. Bring both arms down to interlace the fingers behind you: Pull the arms long toward the tailbone, no bend in the elbows. As the arms extend down and back, slightly tip your head back. There should be very little pressure on the neck; simply tilt the head back until you feel a gentle stretch in the throat area. With eyes “9/10” open, gaze down at the tip of your nose. Inhale deeply through your nose; exhale through your open mouth. Create a whispered, windy sound of “Aaaah,” as you exhale. Continue for 2 minutes.
Special note: The nose gaze may create eyestrain at some point, as your eyes are slightly crossed while intently focusing. If this happens, gently close your eyes for a few breaths; then, refocus on the nose and continue until you reach 2 minutes.
Finally, return to the North with your right hand on the Heart, left in Compass position. When you arrive, bring the right arm also to extend to the side at shoulder level: Turn the left and right palms to face up. With your head and neck in neutral alignment, and your body and arms in Cross shape, close your eyes. As you inhale, draw in energy from the Universe through the open left palm; continue inhaling as you “move” the prana through the left arm, both shoulders, and through the right arm, circulating Universal energy through those limbs.
Exhale as you visualize a softly muted light emanating from your right palm, arcing up and over your body to return to the left palm. Repeat by inhaling and circulating energy from the left palm to the right; exhale to send the arc of divine light up and over into the left. Continue the breath and visualization for 3 minutes.
To close your practice, return your left hand to rest on the Heart center, and the right to rest on the Dan Tien. Re-establish your natural breath, and sense your renewed physical, mental, and spiritual centers of balance. Bask in this awareness until you are ready to open your eyes.