NEWSFLASH! Special Offers & Thoughts
It is time to think about settling in for the longer nights and shorter days. Taking the opportunity to walk in the daylight whenever possible, and accepting that there will be more time to spend indoors. This could be a chance to get onto your yoga mat and spend some time in working on those postures that you normally shy away from, or developing your ability to stay in a longer yin hold. The dark nights invite us to look inwards and this is the aim of our yoga practice, to develop self-knowledge and venture into the unknown parts of Self.
How about taking up a Yoga Nidra practice for the winter, to help release stress and allow the body/mind some deep rest? Or you could develop a meditation practice in a comfortable sitting position, allowing yourself time to move within.
The experience we have on our mat is likened to COMING HOME. That sense of relief, well-being and oneness that can come when we return after being away from home for a while. Stephen Cope, of the Kripalu Centre, states – “I go to my yoga mat almost every afternoon around 4:00. I look forward to it, and most days I find it remarkably soothing. As I go through my little rituals of preparation—rolling out the mat, tidying up the yoga space, perhaps putting on some quiet music—my body begins to relax. Even my mind begins to relax. And this happens before I’ve done a single posture.
As a teacher, I’m often asked to give an explanation for the deep sense of well-being that arises in yoga. Some are looking for a complex scientific description—perhaps a description of changes in cortisol levels or other subtle changes in brain chemistry. Some would rather hear about the mysteries of the energy body—the raising of kundalini up the shushumna (central energy core of the body), and the opening of the third eye.
All of these explanations do apply, of course. Postures and breathing change brain and body chemistry: heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, brain-wave activity—all these things change, and decidedly for the better. And subtle energies do integrate. That’s true, too.
But more and more, the well-being—the homecoming—cultivated by yoga postures just seems much simpler to me. What is the potent active ingredient in our homecoming? I believe it is primarily the practice of being present for experience—a practice that generations of seekers have called mindfulness.
What, exactly, is this “mind-full-ness”? Mindfulness is the direct, immediate, and vivid experience of whatever is arising here and now. It is a nonjudgmental awareness that does not get caught up in thoughts or concepts or “stories” of any kind. It is sometimes called “bare attention.” Mindfulness is simply “knowing” an experience—just as it is.
What’s amazing is that we don’t really have to learn this “direct and vivid knowing of phenomena” at all. This immediate knowing is the true nature of the mind and heart. When we momentarily drop all the other things we’re doing with our minds—thinking, analyzing, comparing, judging, craving—mindfulness emerges quite effortlessly. It is like the ground underneath us—always there whether we’re aware of it or not.”
So, as Stephen says, “Don’t take my word for this: Find out for yourself! Perhaps right now. Just for a few moments, simply sit, breathe comfortably (close your eyes if you’d like), and allow yourself to be at ease. Stop reading, stop all activity, and notice what happens.”
Love & Light, Penny.