Special note: For today’s practice, you will need a candle or small object, plus a source of rhythmic sound. Additional instrumental music is optional.
As described in yesterday’s “Pre-Silent Sunday,” today’s practice revolves around the idea that while a consistent spiritual practice develops awareness and centeredness, it is equally important to be able to diffuse consciousness and sensory information. While one’s practice provides perspective, equanimity, and connectivity, the ability to yield to the workings of the Universe is a crucial aspect of spiritual advancement. Today’s set thus identifies one’s focus; deepens intention surrounding said focal point; and then consciously withdraws from that object of attention.
In short, this Silent Sunday suggests that, ironically, in order to manifest evolution, one must pull back from attention and intention.
In yoga philosophy, pratayahara means withdrawal of the senses. Today’s routine offers the opportunity to similarly withdraw, first physically, then mentally. When done consciously, this type of detachment frees the inner workings of Prana (energetic functions of the mind, body, and spirit) to align with the vibrations of the Universe. When one steps back from physical or meditative practices of specific intention, the cumulative energies from consistent performance of said practices are free to connect with Higher Consciousness.
Thus, today’s set highlights the need for attentive practice, then demonstrates how to surrender to the guidance and decree of the Universe and the Divine.
To begin, a full set of warmup exercises stimulates overall energy, while freeing the spine. Come onto all fours for one minute of Cat/Cow spinal flexes: Inhale as the spine extends and curves into Cow; exhale as it arches and rounds up into Cat. From there, come onto the belly, and prop yourself up on the forearms in Sphinx Pose.
As you inhale through the nose, lower the upper body and face toward the floor. As you rise back up onto the forearms, stick the tongue out and down to exhale through the mouth. Inhale down, exhale up; in through the nose, out through the tongue-extended open mouth. This is a deeply detoxifying movement and breath that simultaneously opens the heart and clears emotional and chemical debris. Continue vigorously for 2 minutes.
Next, press back into Baby Pose for a few deep breaths through the nose. Then, uncurl to sit on the heels; if you prefer, you may sit in a crossed-leg position. You will be moving the upper body, arms, and head in a free-form dance. Ideally, the movement will be motivated by your inner rhythm, but if you want to move along to music of your choice, that is fine. Continue for 3 minutes.
Immediately lie on your back with the legs in the air. Continue to “dance,” surrendering to the call of your body and mind. The arms remain fairly quiet; the movement occurs in the legs, and in the natural rocking and rolling of the body on the floor as you move. Continue for another 3 minutes.
Now you are ready to shift into a one-pointed focus meditation. If you have a candle, guide your attention to the flame; alternatively, find a tiny focal point, e.,g. the tip of a houseplant leaf, or a chip on a cup. The object of attention should be 2-3 feet in front of you at eye level.
As you settle your gaze on the chosen point, bring to mind a person, situation, or emotion that has been demanding your attention: As you connect your concern to the focal point, notice physical or psychological discomforts or adjustments that begin to arise. Do nothing to resolve or alter them; rather, sharpen your focus on the flame or object. Continue this one-pointed meditation, breathing fully and steadily through the nose, for 7 minutes.
Then, sit quietly for 3 minutes, fingers in Gyan Mudra: thumb tips touching index fingertips, back of the hands on the knees. Breathe deeply as you allow thoughts of your intention or concern to move away, to become dimmer and dimmer. Give them over to the Universe, by way of the mudra.
If you like, briefly stretch for your hips, legs, neck—whatever you need. Then, resume your seated posture. Place both hands by the shoulders, palms forward, as if taking an oath. Here, create Shunya Mudra on both hands: thumb pressing respective middle-finger into the palm. As you did visually, connect your auditory attention to a rhythmic sound in your space. For example, I have a clock that ticks: You may also hear the faint hum of an appliance, or the drip of a faucet.
With eyes closed, gazing up to the Third Eye, meld your hearing sense with the selected sound. As you sit with this sensory connection, begin to release the ears from “receiving” mode; allow the ears to vibrate with, not in reaction to the sound you hear. Continue to sit and resonate with the sound for 5 minutes.
Now, bring the soles of the feet together, knees splayed open to the sides. If this Baddha Konasana (or Butterfly) pose is hard on your hips or knees, you may extend your legs straight in front of you. As you inhale through the nose, open the arms wide, tilt the head back, and lift the chest, as if opening your heart to the sky. To exhale, round the lips, and breathe out a long, slow “windy” sound: Simultaneously, round the arms forward to bring hands to knees as the spine rounds deeply backward and the head hangs down. Continue to inhale, opening yourself to the Universe; exhale to soften and relinquish any desire or intention. Open and close with steady, full breathing for 3 minutes.
Finally, move into Svasana. Rest for at least 5 minutes, longer if you like.