This Silent Sunday finds me… unfound. Ungrounded. Or rather, so very grounded that lift-off seems unattainable. Yet, I am simultaneously intrigued by the nature of creativity, fortitude, and focus: When these qualities go astray, the written word—or painted scene, or sounded tone, or choreographed sequence—plays an elusive game. How best to stir the imagination? How best to sift through the mountains of buried ideas, and unearth one to contemplate and express?
The latter scenario most likely underlies this morning’s perplexing, vexing paralysis of mind. Over the course of the previous week, I had several conversations and communications with trusted friends, first and foremost of whom is my sister. With vulnerability and honesty and intuited emotion on both sides, so very many thoughts came to light. With regard to my current physical challenges and a solution that is proving to be as elusive as today’s errant creative muscle, we discussed everything from karma, to physical patterns, to the need to be positive and forward-looking while fully inhabiting uncomfortable—even excruciatingly painful—life challenges.
These are the thoughts that prevailed last week, and that have been looming nearer and larger over the past several months. It as if they always were meant to be part of my life cycle: I however, had no say over their appearance; God and the Universe revealed them in accordance with divine Time.
And certainly, I am conscious of my earlier word choice: “paralysis of mind.” As my body struggles with each and every step, with each and every position, with each and every task (who knew that standing to brush teeth or chop vegetables, or to rise from sitting could engender such dread?!), an all-too-close sense of what a paralyzed body would be like begins to color the edges of my experience. Yet, in keeping with my overall Life view, these thoughts needs to be corralled and tamed. If, indeed, this personal challenge is part of my karmic task in this lifetime, then I must be acutely aware of the thoughts I think: Their energy will foster the approach and direction I take.
So, with that in mind—and body—I wend my way toward today’s practice. While my muscles and lungs and overall resilient vitality crave big, open movement, that space must instead be found within. And, as the mind channels that which God and the Universe decree, those declarations will manifest in body, as well. In essence, it is the rebound action of what yoga flow and posture aim to accomplish: Typically, one uses the vehicle of body to clear the mind and delve into spirit. Now, in reverse, this Silent Sunday digs deep within, in order to free the body from its unanswered call for movement. With that freedom comes acceptance and renewed determination to abide challenge.
Because this morning finds me obsessively desirous of the vast variety of movement that I used to enjoy (and, with an awareness of my good fortune, fully expect to regain in the future), the first step of today’s practice is a mental nod to a Buddhist tenet: Desire is the cause of suffering. This is certainly true for me and my frustrated cleaving to a desire to move freely and endlessly. Thus, the routine begins where I have so often suggested beginning previous practices: Shake and shimmy and tap and wiggle in any way, with any body part that you can. Do this without thought to time; rather, shake until your physical need to move feels sated.
Once you have responded to the body’s need (if not entirely fulfilling desire), find a comfortable position for contemplation: prone, supine, chair, bolster, crossed- or straight leg… Follow the lead of your body as best as it is able to communicate, and you are able to respond. Then, move into the posture, and leave the body behind.
Realize as you enter this state that contemplation connotes conscious focus on a specific thought, topic, idea: Some may regard this as prayer. While it may be a form of meditation, I have come to differentiate between the two. In yogic terms, meditation singularly focuses on communication with the Divine.
Thus, to contemplate that which brings you to a practice designed to delve within means to acknowledge fears and limitations of your current state. Then, as their presence diffuses under the laser light of contemplation, you can unfurl the inner sails that will guide you into meditation.
For this phase of practice, realign yourself in an upright, seated posture: easy crossed-leg pose or sitting on the heels. If you have not already, hone in the breath: aim for complete, steady inhales and exhales through the nose. Then, using your inner eye, track the breath as the inhale travels up the front cross-section of the spine—root to Third Eye; then, follow the breath with your mind as it flow down the back of the spine upon exhale. Continue this breath visualization for 5 minutes.
Now, release the mind’s eye; refocus your closed-eye gaze on the Third Eye. Willingly empower your understanding that this Spiritual Eye point is the way in to communicate with God and the Universe. The depth of your focus and the power of your belief ultimately lead to Faith. As such, one learns that the ability to acquire, sustain, and renew Faith begins with a decision to focus and to open to possibility.
As you sit—eyes closed and upon the Third Eye, and deep, steady breath engaged— bring the hands into the lap. Loosely interlace the fingers, allowing the thumbs to cross naturally; the palms may face the low belly, or face up. Breathe in and out through the nose in this position for 5 minutes. As you sit, should you feel distracted or restless, focus on the body’s call for attention: Relax the mouth and jaw; let the tongue float in the mouth; consciously release the shoulders from their typical holding state; and drop the elbows. Once you have melted bodily tension, return to the sound of breath and the focused Third Eye gaze.
Next, release the position, and—keeping the eyes closed—shift forward onto the belly: Make fists of the hands, stack one atop the other, and rest your forehead on the stack. Find a spot where you can feel the Third Eye in contact with the top fist. In this position, begin breathing in through the nose; exhale slowly, deeply, and steadily through the gently opened mouth. Continue for 3-5 minutes.
Then, shift back into Baby Pose. Let the arms rest back on the floor, alongside the legs. Resume deep breaths in and out through the nose. Remain here for 1-3 minutes.
Now, sit up and re-enter your seated meditation posture. Let the hands rest gently on the knees, palms up. Refocus the closed-eye gaze on the Third Eye, and begin the following breath: Inhale through slightly parted lips, with the tongue curled softly toward the back of the mouth; exhale through the nose, maintaining the tongue position. Continue for 3-5 minutes.
Finally, form Gyan Mudra on each hand: thumb and index fingertips touching. Rest this mudra on the knees, palms down. With the Third Eye gaze, intact, breathe fully, in and out through the nose. Continue for up to 11 minutes. When you feel that your meditation is complete, move into Svasana if that feels right. Remain in rest for as long as you like.