My practice is the tide of my life.
Some days I can sit for hours in meditation embodies me like all the cozy things. It feels like a warm blanket or a steaming mug of coffee on a cold day. I come out of the practice feeling like sunshine has touched my body and soul.
I move through my patterned breathing with intent and purpose. Really feeling each articulation of oxygen as it moves through it’s path, in and out of my form. I can just ‘be’ within the edges of my mind, still & focused.
And then other days I barely make it 4 minutes.
I can barely toe the line that creates the edge of my form. I’m inside then I’m out. Then I’m inside again. Oh no way – can’t stay there – back out I go.
My breath is short and choppy. My still form is in appearance only, on the inside I feel like a little kid who has had too many gummy bears, soda and cupcakes. My shoulders feel itchy, my eyelids are forced and my jaw is tight.
Sometimes this happens during my sessions before work, the thought of getting out of the door and impeding deadlines getting the better of my detachment efforts.
Sometimes this happens on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when the openness of the weekend isn’t presenting itself in its usual opportunistic way but rather in a idleness riddled with ‘shoulds’ and ‘coulds’ and overall indecision.
I’ve tried a few different things and I think this is key. While I sometimes get overwhelmed with the amount of meditation techniques out there, having a few you connect that you can go to during these trying sessions is really helpful.
While I primarily do a breath-focused meditation but when just isn’t working I try the following techniques:
- Using a single word, phrases or ‘mantras’ to focus the mind. The journey within is personal so what is most important is that you choose a phrase or word that resonates with your heart and soul. I typically use ‘Be Here’ which helps me overcome the inability to come within my own form. I also use ‘Soham’, an ancient Hindu mantra that best translates to ‘I am that’. There are so many philosophies and deep meanings associated with this mantra, but simplistically, this sacred phrase serves to connect us with our own true spirit, self, divine and universe.
- Equal Part Breathing (Sama Vritti Pranayama) – equalizing the length of each inhale-pause-exhale-pause. For example, you would inhale for a count of 4, pause for a count of 4, exhale for count of 4 and then pause for a count of 4.
- Pausing as inhales transition to exhales and visa versa. When my breath is choppy and I can’t count the lengths of my inhales and exhales, I will just focus on pausing during the transition between breaths with the intent of spending a few seconds in that transition.