NEW: “Joint Effort” Audio Practice!

The routine that accompanies “Joint Effort–Introduction” is now available in follow-along audio form at: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

This “more-than-movement” practice combines stagnancy-releasing bodywork; unusual movements; and a visualization meditation. The session is designed to introduce you to the depths of information nestled in your own body, specifically within the joints. As a fringe benefit, you may experience temporary relief from stiff or aching joints.

Silent Sundays: Choice, and Beyond…

I am once again in a mental and spiritual state that leaves me wondering, “What’s next?”  and, “To what end?”

To the first query, who can say? As humans here on this seemingly unpredictable, yet proven transitory and cyclical Earth, we are prone to follow news, exchange gossip, choose sides, and battle ourselves into the ground.

When the United States Supreme Court ruled three days ago to overturn the long- and hard-fought-for Roe v. Wade law, a familiar set of feelings seeped in and crept through:

To invalidate a woman’s right to choose the circumstances amidst which she—and potentially, a new being—will live immediately raised my ire. The anger and frustration quickly became bafflement, accompanied by cynicism, and eventually, sprinklings of logic atop a large mound of fervent Faith.

The rapid rate at which this torrent of emotion and thought occurred points to the many times I have felt similarly. Racial injustice, sexual discrimination, tyrannical and nonsensical leaders, mass genocides… Each time one of these abominable situations arise, I feel the same set of emotions as the ones sparked by the Court’s recent decision.

This time, however, a new thought has made its way into the lineup. Intellectually, I have always known that there are legions of people who support a ban on abortion: Never, however, have I been able to occupy—not for even one second—that mindset. Never, though, have I tried, at least not with any degree of genuine openness to what I may find.

But suddenly, after the initial deluge of anger-based emotion, I somehow tip-toed my way in to the hearts and minds of those who applaud the ruling. 

It was and is a strange sensation, but one that drastically has reduced my bewilderment. This tentative step over to the “other side” has reminded me of the inevitability of polarity, duality, and the discord that typically follows when “opposing sides” butt heads.

My way through such times is not a socially active one… at least, not overtly. But because my beliefs and practices focus on the spiritual through-lines of all that occurs in this material world, I am able to summon thoughts and techniques that uplift that perspective.

And then, one breath, one prayer, one mantra or mudra at a time, I seek to “vibrate” in a way that allows respectful acknowledgement of that which initially I find abhorrent. In aligning more closely with the rhythm and frequency of the Universe, my Heart moves away from being part of the pervasive discord.

Whether you are one who delves into the public fray, or one who diligently supplies power to others from within, perhaps foster this intention: For all your personal opinions, for all your vehement stances, try to remember that those who seem in opposition are operating from a similar level of belief and purpose. When one can recognize ardent integrity in another—despite the seemingly opposite mindset—the slightest inroad toward mutual respect has begun.

With all of the above thoughts spilling forth over the course of the last few days, I also began to think about the idea of a Collective Karma. Might this concept be the explanation for why “history repeats itself?” If we as a nation—or any group as a culture or sovereignty, or family or organization—are connected eternally by dint of a massive karmic obligation, would that not explain how we can keep making the same mistakes, unleashing the same challenges?

But then what of the personal vibration to which I referred to earlier? Is it a fool’s errand to think that my or any one person’s solo, solitary efforts have value or effect? 

My sense of an answer to that lies in one of the key features with which each human being is graced: Free Will.

Free Will here on Earth may be hindered by personal or geopolitical circumstances, or even by lack of self-confidence. But it is there, lying at the ready, for any moment when personal discernment and courage, in accord with the Timing of the Universe, allow for its release.

Thus, with regard to Collective Karma, I offer the following from an article in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review: In “Karma is Individual,” Theravada monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu reminds us that “the Buddha’s teachings treat people as responsible individuals, rather than lumping them into groups. …Evaluate [yourself] by [your] own current actions, rather than by the actions of other members of the group into which [you’re] currently reborn.

“That’s how we find ourselves born into particular groups of people. …Through your own individual intentions, you develop a karmic profile. Then you’re born with people who have similar profiles in their individual backgrounds.

“[Ultimately,] spark a desire to get out of the karmic network altogether. The interim reaction, though, should be empathy: We’ve all been in this together for far too long.”

With regard to the current Roe v. Wade upheaval—bringing fury for some, joy for others—a feeling of empathy can be hard to muster. I am finding, however, that in the midst of the oppositional strife for which human beings seem custom-designed, the more I allow myself to venture into the outlooks of those with whom I disagree, the more relief I feel from frustration and helplessness.

Having said that, I feel the need to reiterate my personal belief in Choice as the Chosen Mode—after all, each of us were born with Free Will, i.e, an innate ability to determine our own earthly actions. To remove an avenue of Choice seems to fly in the face of that which is divinely decreed.

Finally, what of the second of my opening questions: “To what end?”

I return to that which I always do: Faith that the workings of God and the Universe occur, shift, and repeat in a way that have eternal significance. My single goal with regard to such Faith is to safeguard and, when possible, elevate my Soul in this earthly existence: recognize and explore my personal vibration; discern if and when and how I may need to alter it in accordance with karmic evolution and Higher Purpose; and tend to that task.

Happy Sunday…

Joint Effort–Part II: A More-Than-Movement Practice

Special note: The follow-along audio version of this practice will be available soon at anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

In Part I of “Joint Effort,” I mentioned several alternative ways to think about anatomical joints. From the mamas of ayurveda, to metaphorical somatic meaning, to the elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine: All point to some of the esoteric underpinnings of this particular facet of the body’s structure.

In previous writings, I have addressed the brain’s relationship to Higher Consciousness. The significance of chakras and meridians also is oft-discussed here. And certainly, the spine as gateway to other realms is a central feature of many of the practices offered. 

The idea that the body holds profound potential to connect us to the Divine is not new. What is different in the following session, though, is the entry point through which that communication can occur.

A quick primer on joints: There are three basic kinds—fixed, partially movable, and movable. The skull plates are prime examples of fixed, or immovable joints. Slightly movable joints make up parts of the spine and pelvis. Finally, freely moving, or synovial joints are those that we most often think of as “joints”: wrists, knees, fingers, ankles, etc.

When one thinks back to the idea of joints as “junction between body and mind,” (from Ayurveda and Marma Therapy), the lesser contemplated structures—fixed and partially movable—quietly rise to the fore. That these nearly sealed or tightly sewn joints initially seem implacable and inaccessible suggests that behind or underneath them lie energies and information meant to be met with deep reverence.

Thus, the following practice aims to foster sensitive exploration and expanded perception. Should you currently have joint pain, know that this practice is not physical therapy; it may, however, temporarily soothe an aching joint and associated muscles. Further, the routine offers a potential psycho-spiritual salve that can go a long way toward assuaging the enervating component of pain.

As you move through the following practice, be acutely aware of even the smallest discomfort in any given joint or area of the body. Free yourself from time constraints, i.e., if a spot is tender, remain there; offer focus, intent, and healing vibration to yourself for as long as needed. Use your innate sensory “detectives” to hone in, harness, and tend to any imbalance.

To begin, sit in a way that allows you to reach each foot; you will be working first with the toes. By unlocking and loosening the toes, we create an exit point for stagnant qi, or meridian energy. 

The technique is related to the Chinese medicine modality of Tui Na (twee nah). Using the left thumb and index finger, begin at the base of the left pinky toe: Squeeze and quickly vibrate the toe while pulling slightly: It is as if you are providing pulsating traction. Work your way up each toe in “threes”: Squeeze, vibrate, and pull at the base; then in the middle, then at the tip.

When you have done the final vibrating traction on any given toe tip, pinch the toe tip firmly; quickly pull away and off, as if clipping off the end of the toe. This is the point at which the energy you have stirred through the joints is released, taking with it stagnancy and pain.

Move through each toe, left pinky to left big toe; then on to right big toe, ending with right pinky. (Use the right thumb and index finger to work on the right toes.)

Now, from your seated position, lean back or stand up. Set yourself in a way that allows you to vigorously shake each foot—first the left, then the right. Powerfully shake each for 30 seconds.

Next, seated again, use the thumb, index, and middle fingers of each hand to squeeze and release, up and down the Achilles tendon on each hand’s respective side. Breathe deeply as you do so; continue for 30 seconds, kneading and moving up and down both tendons.

The knees are next. Form cups of both hands: fingers together, each palm “domed.” Begin to slap firmly all around the left knee with both cupped hands—front, sides, back. Continue for 30 seconds on each side.

Now, take a moment to close the eyes and experience the physical sensations in your feet and legs. Breathe deeply, simply enjoying the circulatory “buzz” that you have created.

Continue to draw the work upward. Come onto all fours. Begin to “stir” the right hip to stimulate the energy within the joint: Lift the bent right leg up behind (knee comes straight behind the hip); externally rotate the hip (knee now is to the side at hip level); and then return the knee to the floor. Circle in this direction—back, side, and down—6 times.

Then, reverse the circle: knee lifts to the side (like a dog at a fire hydrant); then shifts behind (right lower leg points straight up); and then returns to home base. Repeat—side, back, and down—6 times.

Now, switch to the left side. Complete 6 circles in one direction, then 6 in the other.

When finished, still on all fours, bring the toes to touch and widen the knees. Shift back into Open Baby Pose. Remain here: Draw your inner eye to the realm within the hip joints. This is a primary storehouse of old emotional and physical distress; use your exhale to release any past discomforts that arise. Continue to breathe and visualize for at least 2 minutes.

From Baby Pose, ease down onto your back. Let the legs stretch long and free onto the floor. Extend both arms straight up from the the shoulders, perpendicular to the body. Beginning with the left arm, inhale to lift the shoulder up from the floor; exhale to drop it back down.

This is a small, fairly rapid movement: Shoulder Drops. As the adage suggests, we tend to carry the “weight of the world”—our concerns and possibly those of others—on and in our shoulders. These Drops allow for the release of unnecessary guilt and pressure.

Inhale to lift or pulse the shoulder up from the floor; exhale to release it quickly down. Continue for 30 seconds; repeat on the right.

Finish with 12 Shoulder Drops, left and right sides simultaneously: inhale up, exhale drop.

Now, help yourself to sit again. Here you will repeat the Tui Na technique through each finger. Begin with the left pinky. Using the right thumb and index fingers, squeeze the base of the left pinky: roll, vibrate, and pull for a few seconds.

Then, move up into the next portion of the finger: Divide each finger into 3, 4, or 5 “pieces,” depending on finger length. Do what feels right: Spend as little or as much time as each spot tells you.

After working on the top portion of any given finger, squeeze the tip firmly: Pull away and off, “snapping” off the tip.

Move methodically, but with keen sensory and energetic awareness: First is the left pinky, then left ring finger, through the left thumb. The left index and thumb then work on the right thumb, then index, through to the right pinky.

When you have completed the Tui Na on each finger of both hands, inhale both arms overhead: Shake the hands with the suspended inhale. When you need to exhale, float the arms down. Repeat two more times.

To complete the joint session, find your preferred seated position for meditation. Raise the hands above the head, palms down; interlace the fingers, and hover the hands over the Crown. Use your kinesthetic intuition—what “feels right”—to tell you how close to or far above the Crown the hands should be.

With eyes closed, inhale through the nose: Use the mind’s eye to draw the breath up from the Root, or perineum, through the front of the spine to the Third Eye.

As you exhale deeply through the nose, send the breath to the back of the skull and down through the back of the spine, returning to the perineum.

Continue for 1 minute.

Finally, release the hands to the knees or thighs, palms up. Turn the closed eyes up, through and beyond the Third Eye; visualize the auric field above the Crown. Inhale through the nose; as you exhale, press the tongue up into the roof of the mouth. 

This subtle move opens the Crown. Allow the Universe to deliver its wisdom and healing in through the “immovable” skull plates, or Crown. Use each inhale to receive it.

Continue to breathe in and out, opening the Crown with the tongue, for 3-7 minutes. When you feel ready, ease down into Svasana to settle and integrate the exalted energies. Remain here for as long as you like.

Silent Sundays: Joint Effort–Introduction

For a few months, I have been contemplating a piece about the joints. The first time that I addressed this perhaps undervalued component of the physical body was in 2018: “The Heat Is On “ provided a practice to cope with sweltering Summer temperatures and humidity’s effect on the joints.

https://everythingelsa.blog/2018/05/26/the-heat-is-on-water-bug-treatment-to-ease-joint-pain-from-humidity/ 

At the time, I was in the early throes of osteoarthritis, but did not know it. Because I was—and am—a very physically active person, I dismissed the sudden, sharp pain in my right hip to having “moved the wrong way.” When the acute phase passed into an intermittent, dull ache, my bodyworker self assumed that I could apply what I knew and remedy the situation over time.

I wrote that first post about joint pain five months after the first mysterious flare-up. Several months later—nearly a year in—the left hip began to display similar discomfort. When I finally sought chiropractic help, that practitioner recognized textbook symptoms of arthritis and suggested I see an orthopedic specialist.

After the official diagnosis, I endured another year-plus of increasingly debilitating pain. During this time, I had no choice but to reduce beloved movements, then those that were “functional”: To stand, bend, sit up or down, or turn over in bed became a dreaded effort.

This trip back through that challenging time leads to this Silent Sunday. Having experienced the rigors of osteoarthritis for nearly three years—and now rejoicing in the privilege of pain-free movement after a double hip replacement last year—I am more aware than ever that the body requires constant monitoring and maintenance. 

More significantly, I have developed a deep reverence for the esoteric underpinnings of anatomical structures.

When one is young and healthy—or older and without physical concern—the goal of movement tends to be one of having fun, pushing boundaries, and muscling through feats of endurance.

That there are unexplored realms within any given anatomical feature that factor into “what makes us go” may be rarely considered.

My own fascination with the wealth of information hidden within joints—specifically those of the hips—was expressed in the following piece that I wrote post-surgery. Included within the post is a visualization and meditation practice, should you want to more deeply explore the potential that lies within your joints:

https://everythingelsa.blog/2021/05/16/silent-sundays-pockets-of-change/

Finally, it may be helpful to supply some learned background. For example, joints, according to Louise L. Hay in her book, “You Can Heal Your Life,” reflect the ability to change directions in Life. If stricken with arthritis, joints may reveal the presence of underlying resentment.

Further, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, joints align most closely with the Wood element. Wood, associated with the Liver and Gall Bladder organ systems, corresponds with movement, and is demonstrated by the qualities of a “pioneer”: 

Action compels the Pioneer. …The urge to get things moving, make things happen, and voyage onward typifies the Pioneer. … [When thwarted,] what was once a gratifying challenge can become an aggravating distress…

The above description (from Beinfield and Korngold’s “Between Heaven and Earth”) reinforces the notion of joints as agents of change. When one’s plans and anticipation of newness go unmet, resentment may build: thus, Hay’s note of arthritis as a reflection of that disappointment.

Another, not-well-known aspect of the joints—indeed, of the whole body’s hidden realms—is that of marmas. Marmas, according to Frawley, Ranande, and Lele in their book, “Ayurveda and Marma Therapy,” are sensitive pressure points that correspond with specific parts of the body; however, the reach and complexity of a marma surpasses any localized position. While marmas can be used to address a physical or psychosomatic condition, they also connect to the subtle nerves and energy centers of the body (nadis and chakras, respectively).

As stated in the book, “Marmas are classified by their dominant physical constituents as muscle, vessel, ligament, joint, or bone-based regions, [and as such], mark the junction of the body with the mind. … Treating them can release negative emotions and remove mental blockages, including those of a subconscious nature.”

With regard to the above information, one begins to understand how the joints are a significant representative of the often unplumbed depths of the physical body. When their function goes awry, it is not only mundane activity that is affected: unresolved emotions and conflicts, latent fears and dormant dreams—one’s history of being rises up and requires reckoning.

Next time: Joint Effort—A More-Than-Movement Practice

Happy Sunday…

New Audio Practice! Mend The Mind

After a day of recognizing the mind’s power to usher in both darkness and light, I created the newest follow-along practice to balance the brain and harmonize the mind.

Should you ever contend with anxiety, sleep disorders–terrors, insomnia–or distracted thinking, the movements and meditation will help you get back on track.

Head to: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

Silent Sundays: Release The Day

I am an “early bird”: Most of my meditation, yoga, writing, and administrative tasks occur in the pre-dawn hours. Often, the practices I create reflect my morning tendencies, in that I typically think of them as a way to enter a day, or provide a midday boost. This Silent Sunday, however, moves its intention to day’s end. 

Many of us feel the need to recalibrate physical and mental energies by the time evening arrives. Today’s practice upends the body to soothe and center both body and mind. Further, the sequence of moderate, accessible inversions stimulate blood and lymph flow, and relieve the pressure of body weight from beleaguered joints.

The supine base for each move resets the spine and core, lending to a feeling of balance and stability. Try any or all of these moves when you need to clear a foggy brain; restore the body; or thoroughly shift mood or perspective.

Begin on your back in a variation of Constructive Rest pose: feet flat, a little wider than hip width, with knees falling in and resting against each other. Cross the arms atop the body; note which arm lies on top of the other. With eyes closed, inhale through the nose for 6-8 counts; exhale through the rounded lips, slow and steady, for 10-12 beats.

Complete 4 rounds of this breath pattern.

Then, inhale deeply. Suspend the breath while you change into the next posture: Release the arms to the floor by your sides, palms up; lift the feet off of the floor, tucking the knees in toward the body. Exhale through the nose to settle into this supine tuck with relaxed arms. 

Now, repeat the initial breath pattern: 4 rounds of inhaling through the nose for 6-8 beats; exhaling through the mouth for 10-12 counts.

Again, inhale through the nose, and suspend the breath. Move into the next inversion: legs extend straight up from the hips, and arms extend straight up from the shoulders. Exhale deeply through the nose to set the pose, known as Dead Bug. The posture soothes and resets the nervous system.

Engage the now-familiar breath pattern again. After 4 rounds, inhale to suspend the breath, so that you can find the fourth inversion: legs open wide into a straddle, while arms come to shoulder level, extended to either side, palms up. Complete another 4 rounds of the extended-exhale breath pattern.

Now you will reverse the sequence. In this portion, breathe naturally, according to your body’s rhythm, in and out through the nose. Remain in each position until your body tells you to switch. To allow kinesthetic intuition to be your guide will further restore balance.

From the inverted wide-leg straddle, shift into Dead Bug: arms and legs straight up, perpendicular to the torso. Breathe fully, eyes closed.

When you are ready, move into the bent-knee tuck with arms on the floor by your sides. 

Upon the body’s cue, resume the original posture: Constructive Rest. This time, cross the opposite arm on top of the other. Remain here as long as you like.

When it feels right to you, release the pose, and prepare for Half-Bridge. With feet flat, and feet and knees now hip-width apart, roll up through the spine to elevate the hips. Interlace the fingers under the Bridge, and stretch the arms long on the floor beneath you. 

Return to the counted breath while keeping the hips lifted: Inhale through the nose for 6-8 counts, exhale through mouth for 10-12. Complete 4 rounds.

Then, roll down out of the posture, and lengthen both legs onto the floor. Gently help yourself into Reclined Twist: Draw the left knee in toward the body, and use the right hand to guide the knee across the body toward the floor on your right. Take 3-5 natural breaths here.

Repeat to the other side.

Finally, allow your mind and body to sink into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy End-of-Sunday…

New Treasure Trove Audio!

An audio practice, culled from three past Everything Elsa posts, is now available at: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

“Bounty!” hones in on the Second and Fifth chakras. Together, these two energy centers stoke creative energy and facilitate its expression.

Physically, the practice will ease tension in the neck and low back, while giving a strengthening boost to the lower abdominals.

PodClass! “Halfsies” Audio Version

Today’s post has two purposes. First, if you would like to follow along to the Silent Sunday practice, “Halfsies,” it is now available at: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

The routine offers a way to “put the pieces back together” when you feel physically off-center or mentally foggy. The five movement sequences will restore balance and improve concentration.

As for the second bit of news: The Everything Elsa Podcast on anchor.fm will now be called the Everything Elsa PodClass. Each episode is, in essence, a short (typically 15-120 minutes) taught practice; therefore, the name change speaks more directly to the content.

’Til next time…

Silent Sundays: Halfsies–Restore Balance and Concentration

Special note: This Silent Sunday practice will be available tomorrow (Monday, June 6, 2022) in its audio version. If you would like to follow along in “real time,” visit: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson.

Today’s Silent Sunday offers a chance to “get it together.” Often, after a period of high stress or activity—or, conversely, too little stimulation—the body and mind can feel off-kilter: wayward energies, sluggish or tense muscles, distracted or low concentration. At such times, a rebuilding is necessary.

The following practice will reorganize and reconnect physical and mental energies, leaving you feeling strong and centered, with a renewed ability to concentrate.

Each of the 5 “halfsie” sequences will be followed by the movement or posture in full. In this way, the body will be reminded of its inherent tendency toward balance, while the mind will integrate the fortifying results of its intense concentration. 

Begin standing. Very simply, do shoulder circles on the left side only. Move slowly and purposefully: Inhale to lift the shoulder up and open it back; exhale slowly to draw the shoulder down, under, and forward. Do 5 circles backward, then reverse to 5 forward circles.

Reminder: To move the circle forward, inhale to lift the shoulder and push it forward; exhale to move it down, back, and up.

Repeat with the right shoulder, still moving the shoulder through its discernible range of motion. Again, complete 5 backward and 5 forward circles.

Close the sequence with simultaneous circles of both shoulders, 3 back and 3 forward. 

Still standing, inhale to raise the left knee up toward the body, holding the lower leg or ankle (hip/hamstring release).  Exhale to bend the right knee, so that you sink into a half-squat.

Inhale up, and “swing” the left leg back, drawing the heel toward the left buttock (quad stretch). Again, exhale into the squat.

This is one set: 2 squats, first with the hamstring stretch, then with the thigh stretch. 

Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 sets on the right standing leg. 

Then, shift the sequence to the other side: balance and squat on the left, with the right leg alternating between hip and quad stretch. Again, do a total of 5 sets on the left.

When you have finished, stand with feet hip width apart. Squat as deeply and fluidly as you can 3 times. On the final squat, stay down with knees bent, and let the body come forward and down into a modified Standing Forward Bend. Hang, and shake loose any residual tension for a few deep breaths.

Now, help yourself down onto all fours. Here, beginning from neutral, inhale into Cow: Arch the spine deeply, lifting the tail and looking forward. Exhale to return only to neutral. Repeat 5 more times for a total of 6 Cow spinal extensions.

After the sixth Cow, exhale all the way into Cat: Pass through neutral to deeply round, or flex, the spine. Let the head hang and the tail curl down. Inhale to neutral, exhale into Cat. Repeat for a total of 6 Cat spinal flexions.

Complete the sequence with 3 full Cat/Cow movements: Inhale to arch into Cow, exhale to round into Cat. 

Next, lower yourself onto the belly. Bend both legs and reach back to hold the ankles. Inhale to raise only the upper body away from the floor; exhale to lower. Repeat 4 more times.

Then, move to the lower half: Inhale to raise the legs; exhale to lower. Repeat 4 more times.

To complete this sequence, find Full Bow. Inhale to raise the upper body; stay up as you exhale to lift the lower body to join the upper. Remain fully lifted as you take 5 full breaths in the posture. Then release, and shift back into Baby Pose for a few breaths.

From Baby Pose, slowly sit up, and help yourself onto your back. Extend both legs into the air.

Keep the right leg straight up. Inhale, then exhale to lower the straight left leg at least halfway down, more if you feel strong. Continue the exhale as you retract the left knee in toward the body.

Inhale to straighten the left leg back up to its original position. Exhale to lower it down and draw the knee in.

After 6 repetitions of the move, reverse the flow. From the starting point of both legs straight up, inhale bend the left knee down toward the body; exhale to straighten it out several inches above the ground and back up to the start. Repeat 5 more times for a total of 6.

This is Half-Water Wheel, left side. After completing 6 repetitions in both directions, switch to the right side. The left leg will remain straight in the air as the right leg moves. Again, do 6 in each direction.

When you have finished, let both legs extend straight up. Do Full Water Wheel—both legs moving as one: First, inhale, then exhale to lower both legs and draw the knees in. Inhale to straighten them back up; exhale to lower and retract the knees; and so forth. Complete 3 in this direction, then reverse the trajectory for another 3 repetitions.

To close this portion of the practice, do simple reclining twist. On your back. both legs long on the floor, inhale to draw the right knee in; exhale to move it across the body toward the floor on the left side. Feel free to use the left hand to guide the knee.

Inhale back through center: Exhale to release the right leg. Inhale to draw the left knee in; exhale to guide it over to the right. Inhale to center; exhale to release.

Repeat 2 more times, for a total of 3 twists to each side.

Now, help yourself into your preferred position for meditation. Bring both hands to hover in front of the Heart Center, palms facing each other, but slightly apart, not touching. 

Inhale deeply to slowly, effortlessly float the hands apart about 6-10 inches. Exhale to slowly return them to center. Breathe and move in this soft way for 1 minute.

Finally, connect hands in Prayer Mudra, and rest the thumb sides of the hands directly on the Heart Center. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, breathe naturally. Allow the bolstering, balancing energies that you have created integrate into the mind and body. Remain here for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Rewind To Move Forward

With the recent passing of a dear friend’s tiny furry family member, I once again feel compelled to address the transitional pain of Grief. In homage to my love for my friend and my love for her “Gracie,” this Silent Sunday revisits past posts—some quite recent, others less so—in which I addressed the upheaval of Heart energy that occurs with the often-bewildering process of grieving. Perhaps among the mix, you will find a piece or two to soothe, center or uplift your own heart, whatever its current state.

From: Grief—The Process

When Grief arrives, you may feel submerged in its torrent. Remember that you have inner resources and external outlets. Pray, if that feels right to you; be still and go quiet, perhaps outside; get down and dirty with ugly thoughts and feelings, and then make peace with yourself for doing so; and finally, watch yourself. Take a beat, step back, and observe yourself with the eyes and heart you would use with a dear friend. Handle yourself with the most tender, most loving care.

From: Befriend Your Heart

Because you are preparing yourself to work with the heart, you may want to add a simple bit of qigong. There is a qi point in the center of the palm, between the middle and ring finger metacarpals: With the thumb tip of the opposite hand, lightly press the point and rotate counter-clockwise in a tiny circle. To outside eyes, the movement would be imperceptible; it is as if you are guiding the circle with your mental intention as much as by physical movement. Continue for a minute or so, then repeat on the other hand. Breathe long and deep as you move the Heart qi.

From: Grief—The Practice

The [following] moves activate Root and Heart energy, thereby providing a sense of security and hopefulness.

In the post (also available as an audio practice at anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson), I suggested several movements and a meditation. The idea was to select that which resonates with your personal need at any given time in the grieving process. Two that may be helpful at any point along the way are: Body Drops, and a Supported Forward Bend.

To “drop the body,” I.e., dislodge and free stagnant Root energy, sit with the legs extended straight in front of you. With the hands by the hips—palms flat or in fists—inhale: Press down into the hands to lift the hips (and possibly legs) off of the ground. Exhale to suddenly drop the body down. Inhale up, exhale down 10-20 times.

Then, to soothe and secure the Heart, ease into a Supported Forward Bend. Still seated with legs straight ahead, slip a pillow or rolled blanket under the knees. Place another pillow or folded blanket on the thighs. Bring your body forward and down onto the covered legs. With eyes closed, breathe naturally, yet consciously. Simply attune to the physical seat of the Heart, guiding it into a soft, safe accord with the breath. Remain here for as long as you like.

From: Heavy Heart? Lighten The Load

I suggest the following meditation to honor and bolster your Heart, however it may be feeling.

The power of Prayer Mudra (Anjali Mudra) can not be overstated, nor can the value of your breath and focus. To that end, find a version of Prayer Mudra that resonates with your current Heart energy: traditional palms together at Heart Center; or, backs of hands together (Reverse Prayer), fingers pointed up or down.

Hold the mudra at Heart or Head or elsewhere. Allow this to be a choice guided by intuition: When we can surrender to a suggestion from the Universe, Truth responds to that reverence. As the Heart detects that devotion, its vibration strengthens.

Then, with eyes closed, gaze up to the Third Eye. Inhale through this spiritual portal; exhale into the Mudra. Take the next breath in through the mudra, and exhale out through the Third Eye and beyond. In this way, you begin a cycle of renewal and understanding with the Universe and its eternal Truth. Immerse yourself in the process for as long as you like.

From my Heart to yours:

Happy Sunday…