The beauty of Bikram Yoga, for me, is that I am able to retreat into a form of meditation. I transition to the beat of the class’ drum — movement, then stillness… movement, then Savasana…. I feed off of the energy percolating in the room.
It’s outside of the hot room that I have found meditation harder to master. A seated meditation, situated in the calm and quiet of my own space, takes practice — I have been discouraged many times by irritable thoughts and sensory distractions. Meaning, I react and snap out of a meditation despite the length of time it took for me to settle in.
THOUGHTS IN MEDITATION
Meditation takes commitment and discipline, and, as I’ve found out, it’s inevitable for thoughts to bubble up. Deepak Chopra states, “If you try to stop your thoughts with the intention of creating stillness in your mind, your mental activity may quiet for a few moments, but it will almost certainly start up again at full speed.”
He describes thoughts as a “packet of energy and information. According to yoga, all thoughts can be classified as either memories or desires. When your mind is active, you are either thinking about something that happened in the past or are anticipating something occurring in the future.” In his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, Chopra goes on to write, “Your choices are limited while your mind is engaged in a memory or desire. People frequently get caught in habitual ruts of thinking, believing that they are stuck in a situation because they cannot imagine other possibilities. Accessing the field of pure potentiality by going beyond conditioning through meditation opens up creative possibilities that previously were unavailable.“
So, if meditation can allow us to tap into that sweet spot outside of our comfort zones — that magical space — what’s the best way to start a practice without getting discouraged?
SO HUM MEDITATION EXERCISE (taken from The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga)
This Chopra-inspired meditation technique uses breath along with a breathing mantra to quiet the mind and relax the body. Chopra recommends meditating for 20-30 minutes daily — twice (A.M. and P.M.) if possible. However, if, like me, you are prone to distractions, work on cultivating patience and build up from 10 minutes (perhaps, in 2 minute increments).
Before settling onto your mat or meditation cushion, get comfortable. If you are able to buy some meditation specific clothes, choose a top and bottom that are non-restrictive and will allow you to sit in stillness for elongated periods of time. I prefer not to wear any of my Bikram outfits during this practice.
1. Sit comfortably where you will not be disturbed and close your eyes.
2. For a few minutes simply observe the inflow and outflow of your breath.
3. Now take a slow, deep breath through your nose while thinking the word So.
4. Exhale slowly through your nose while thinking the word Hum.
5. Allow your breathing to flow easily, silently repeating, So…. Hum…. with each inflow and outflow of your breath.
6. Whenever your attention drifts to thoughts in your mind, sounds in your environment, or sensations in your body, gently return to your breath, silently repeating, So…. Hum.
7. Continue this process for 20-30 minutes with an attitude of effortlessness and simplicity.
8. When the time is up, sit with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes before resuming your daily activity.
I’m embarking on a 30-day meditation challenge, and hope to build from a 10-minute to a 20-, even 30-minute practice. Let me know how you go. Do you have any meditation tips to share?