This Silent Sunday offering introduces some thoughts about an ongoing question in my mind, and—I imagine=-that of others. The current spate of rumination arose from a brief snippet of a radio program that I heard: Although I remain unclear about the context of the comment, the singular idea essentially was: What one pays attention to determines the qualitative trajectory of his or her life. With a quick stint of research, it seems that psychologist William James articulated and emphasized this idea: He correlated the concept with consciousness and ultimately, the dominance of free will in human life.
As one who gravitates toward understanding from multiple vantage points, I tend to approach the notion of “attention” from spiritual and metaphysical aspects, as well. Yet I had not viewed it in conjunction with the determination of Life path. Because I do believe that we enter this earthly realm with karmic obligations and residue from previous lifetimes, I view the playing out of this life as but a piece of an eternal whole. Therefore, while one’s particular lifetime is unique in its experiences, circumstances, and qualities, the specific life itself has always been destined to evolve to a certain point: It is the way in which that evolution occurs that may be subject to “nurture,” free will, and choice.
I created the following introductory practice to establish a sound foundation from which to explore. In order to tune into the subtle realms, one must feel secure enough to release habits and preconceptions. From this base, one may begin fearless self-conjecture and foray into personally unexplored areas of “higher consciousness.” Thus, the intention is to help one open and expand, with regard to each individual’s path: What one spontaneously or intuitively chooses to contemplate or address remains open to choice.
To begin, we stimulate and strengthen the Root (First) Chakra. The following pranayama requires a retained exhale.
Special note: Last week’s Silent Sunday post suggests a warm-up for the perhaps unfamiliar technique: https://everythingelsa.blog/2019/04/21/silent-sundays-pranayama-with-mudra-for-deep-relaxation-and-resurrection
In your favorite seated pose, inhale deeply, then exhale fully, allowing the breath to remain out: With the retention of exhalation, squeeze the Root Lock (Mula Bandha). The sensation is similar to that of Kegel exercises, but the entire pelvic floor—rectum, sex organs—is isometrically held along with the exhalation. Then, begin pumping the belly as quickly as possible. Continue for as long as you can maintain the exhale and the lock; release everything to breathe in, then repeat. Continue for 2 minutes.
Next, lie on your back. Extend the left leg straight up, and hold the foot with both hands. As always, modify according to your ability: Perhaps hold the ankle, behind the knee, and/or bend the knee slightly. Once you have attained the hold of the left leg, extend the right leg straight up; then, kick the right buttock with the right foot. Inhale to straighten the leg, exhale to kick: Inhale up, exhale down at a rapid clip, almost creating a Breath of Fire. Continue for 1 minute. Then, switch legs: Hold the right foot or leg, and activate the kick-with-breath pattern on the left leg. Continue for 1 minute.
Now, in order to shift some of the awakened Root energy to the Fifth (Throat) Chakra (the energy of personal expression), come into Shoulder Stand. If you need bolstering under the shoulders, or if you choose to elevate the hips with a block or pillow instead of fully entering Shoulder Stand, that is fine. Regardless, with the legs remaining as straight as possible, begin to alternately lower one leg to the floor over your head, and then the other. Inhale the leg as it comes up, exhale as the other leg lowers. Continue alternating in this manner for 1 minute.
Slowly roll down from your posture, and then help yourself to stand. Bend forward to hold your ankles: Inhale; exhale to lower your buttocks toward the floor into a squat. Inhale to raise the buttocks up as the legs straighten (as much as possible) into a Forward Bend. Exhale down into the squat, inhale to straighten; continue for 2 minutes.
Special note: You may find that you need to release the ankle hold, and place the hands beside the feet as you move up and down.
Now, return to the floor for a final seated exercise: Sat Kriya. The mantra, Sat Nam, evokes the true essence of one’s nature, and the place of the individual within the infinite Universe. (Sat means Truth, Nam is name or identity.) Phonetically, utter, “saht,” or “suht;” then “nahm,” or “nom.” The Sat is a sharp quick intonation, with which the Root Lock is quickly pulled; Nam is enunciated upon an easy, softer exhale, with the release of the bandha.
Ideally, sit in Rock Pose, on your heels. If a modification with pillows does not help, feel free to sit in an crossed-leg pose. Then, with closed eyes gazing at the Third Eye, bring your arms overhead, fingers interlaced, with the index fingers together and extended up. Pull the arms straight, and squeeze them as close to the ears as possible. Then, begin the chant: Inhale Sat as you squeeze the Root Lock; exhale Nam as you release the lock. Continue powerfully for 3 minutes.
Finally, release the arms, and move into svasana for at least 5 minutes.