Open-heartedness. Empathy. Compassion.
Guarded. Closed. Impermeable.
Wherein lies the harmonious midpoint of healthily detached caring?
With and in the Shed.
The title of this piece is an intentional double-entendre: to shed and to create a shed. The former denotes active elimination; the later implies a space to hold what is most necessary for the maintenance of one’s inner environment. When one inadvertently resonates with the vibrations of others’ unsettled energies, it becomes imperative to expel the dis-ease that can begin to puncture personal Peace. Then, one does well to focus on the restoration and preservation of the Shed within.
After a few recent days of observing and subsequently taking in the distressing energies of others’ misfortunes, I come to this Silent Sunday motivated both to operate from the Heart and to protect said Heart Center. The practice that follows is especially beneficial if you have become enmeshed with others’ prickly energy or challenging circumstances.
Special note: Today’s practice also would be useful prior to meetings, discussions, or potentially divisive interactions.
Begin seated on the ground: Feel free to use any bolsters you may need to support a Wide-Leg Forward Bend. Bring the legs into a V shape in front of you; open only as much as allows your spine to remain upright and aligned. Then, maintaining the length of the spine, turn the torso slightly toward the left leg. Reach both hands to hold the leg while keeping the long spine. Inhale through the nose: Then, moving from the hips, stretch forward over the leg as you exhale through the nose. Inhale up, exhale down, without rounding the spine: It helps to look toward the big toe. Continue for 1 minute.
Then, without pausing, rotate toward the right leg, and repeat the same dynamic forward bend for 1 minute. Finally, repeat in the center (moving down and up between the legs) for 1 minute. This movement thoroughly awakens and stimulates the Life Nerve, which is responsible for stability, vitality, and longevity. The repetitive motion also will help to soothe accumulated anxiety.
Next, bring the legs together, straight in front of you; alternatively, you may sit in a crossed-leg position. Here, begin Sufi Grinds: Holding the knees (or with hands on the floor next to the hips), roll the entire torso clockwise. As you circle, allow the pelvis to be part of the movement: Tilt it forward, side, roll it back, and to the other side as you circularly undulate the body. Continue for 1 minute, and then another minute in the opposite direction (counter-clockwise).
After the profound eliminative action of Sufi Grinds, come onto the back with legs extended straight up in the air. Begin to kick the buttocks, alternating left and right heels to bottom by rapidly bending at the knees: The breath corresponds with each alternate kick, and thus becomes close to a Breath of Fire as the kicking speeds up. Exhale each time a foot kicks its half of the buttocks. Continue for 2 minutes.
Now, bring the knees in toward the body: If you are unable to hug the knees in tight, hold behind the thighs with the knees bent. Inhale to rock back, exhale to rock forward: Rock back and forth a few times on the back, in order to find a fluid, strong rhythm. Then, each time the rock comes forward, extend the legs forward, allowing the body to fall into an easy forward bend. As the body tips toward a forward stretch, exhale powerfully through the mouth: “HA!” Inhale to lift the torso as the knees come in, rocking back; exhale to rock up, elongating the legs and moving seamlessly into a natural forward bend with “HA.” Repeat 26 times.
When you have finished the rolling forward bends with cleansing sound, lie quietly for a moment. Breathe deeply in and out through the nose; if an exhale through the mouth feels right, do so. Then, help yourself turn onto the belly. Come onto the forearms for Sphinx Pose.
Here, begin to turn the head left and right: Inhale through the nose to look left; exhale through the nose to look right. Continue for 30-60 seconds, being sure to stay lifted through the shoulders and open through the chest. Let the movement be free of tension, even if that means barely turning the head.
Now, add an “unlocking” piece: As the head turns left, keep the eyes trained to the right. When the head turns right, turn the eyes to the left. It may take a few tries to find a smooth rhythm: Additionally, take note of the breath; often, the oppositional movement causes unwanted breath retention. Double-check that you are inhaling as the head turns left (eyes right), and exhaling as the head turns right (eyes left.)
Once you have learned to accommodate the movement, continue for 1 minute. This opposing eye and head movement provides a surprise for the nervous system, ensuring that habitual patterns of thought and behavior do not guide your responses.
Special note: The above move also serves as a potent tonic after extended computer time, or other eye-straining activity.
Next, shift back into Baby Pose, legs together with the body resting atop, or legs wide with the torso resting between. Regardless, interlace the fingers behind the back, and straighten the arms out and up: Bring them as high above the back and toward the shoulders as possible for Yoga Mudra. Breathe deeply here, in and out through the nose, for 1 minute.
Slowly release the arm lock, and help yourself to sit. You may remain seated on the heels, in crossed-leg pose, legs straight out front, or in a chair. When you have established a centered, comfortable seat, close the eyes and gaze up to the Third Eye. On each hand, touch the thumb tip to pinky fingertip. Inhale through the nose slowly and deeply; exhale with a long, steady whistle. This mudra and pranayama empowers and develops intuitive ability.
Often when swept away by others’ energies or troubles, one loses the connection to the Divine Wisdom within—Intuition. Be with this mudra and breath anytime you need to regain a sense of the security that comes with aligning the mind and Heart with the guidance of the Universe. With that comes the ability to offer kindness while safeguarding personal energies.
Immerse yourself into the energy of the mudra for at least 5 minutes, longer if you like. Finally, ease into Svasana to integrate the effects of the practice.