When I studied with Tara Judelle in Bali last year, she encouraged us to journal immediately after our practices, meditation as well as asana. When I’ve actually taken the time to do it, I’ve found it to be a tremendously valuable way to process and integrate whatever I’ve experienced in the practice. There is something about writing longhand immediately after a practice that infuses the experience into my cells. And it’s great to be able to look back on both the highs and lows as encouragement to persist.
Here’s my journal entry from the other day about my meditation experience. May it be of some use to you.
Today was one of those days where I closed my eyes and immediately arrived into a parallel universe. It felt like landing into a miraculous, bright clearing in the forest with no memory of having travelled there. I felt as though I had arrived in a very familiar place, but one that keeps changing location – like in Lost or some other sci-fi drama. Shards of sunlight stream down through the tall trees. My clearing is warm enough to expose bare skin, yet cool enough so that the breeze’s sweet caress enlivens the skin that it touches. The air feels clean, cool and crisp in my nostrils. My body feels light and spacious and tall. There is a feeling of utter calm wellbeing and expansive focus. It is effortless awareness, restful, invigorating, and healing. Every cell is vibrating, sparkling, scintillating with life, with potential, with passion yet to be expressed.
When I noticed the edges of my awareness darkening or a vague sense of unease creeping in, I checked my posture. Immediately aligning to my vertical axis and grounding myself, snapped everything back into that lovely gift of effortless boundlessness.
There are many ways to get to this ‘clearing’. Some days, I search without finding it. Other days, it may take some time to find a brief glimpse of it. Some days as I sit in the clearing, there is a parade of thoughts that streams past. And then there are days like today. While all experience in meditation is valauble, it feels almost as if Mother Universe is rewarding me for taking the time and space to sit. Today’s blissful sit was a kind of luxuriant reminder of why I bother in the first place.
Have you ever had a meltdown? You know, when a fear or anxiety takes over and you just get caught in a little rut. You may rant and rave or cry or just shut down entirely…Did you know that when you focus on negative things for just 30 seconds, the neurochemical response in your nervous system is actually more than your body-mind can handle? Studies have shown that it literally begins to damage cells in the limbic system part of your brain responsible for processing emotion. Which makes you less resilient over the long haul. Youch.
Now when you’re living right on the edge of your comfort zone, meltdowns can happen. They are a wake up call. It means you’ve lost connection with yourself. The practice of yoga can be a means of reconnecting with yourself, with what is most important to you. Consider for a moment, what gets you out of bed in the morning. What drives you? What is your deepest value? See if you can connect with one word. The word form can literally start to shift the patterning of the cells.
Recent studies have also shown when you meditate on what the researchers have called “a big idea” for a few minutes every day consistently, your brain literally gets shifted. In the moment of meditation, the activity in your parietal lobe (your sense of your individual self, small self) goes down as more dendrites are formed, connecting frontal lobe (planner), through thalamus (reality perceiver) to the centers of the brain that help you to manifest big ideas in the world. After just 8 weeks of this, the thalamus is reshaped by 10%. So literally, your perception of reality is changed forever. Which means your capacity to manifest is changed forever.
A yoga practice can be a moving form of meditation. So if you take your one word from earlier with you into and throughout the practice, you can literally start to re-pattern your brain for the better. Which, if you’re anything like I’ve been over the last little while, will be helpful for undoing any damage a meltdown may have caused.
Special thanks to Tara Judelle for the link to the TEDx talk and the inspiration for taking this into practice. Watch more about the research behind this article here: What’s your big idea?
Today is thought to mark the shift from the time in the world where we sought to dominate other each other, to acquire power, money and status to a time in the world where we seek to know ourselves as innately strong, wise and knowledgeable. Our challenge is to find our way inward to that truth, rather than taking the path our ancestors took outward – looking for answers from “out there” and seeking power over each other.
Meditation is one of the key practices we can use to get to know ourselves better so that as the world changes around us, we remember our own eternal, bright auspicious nature and hold to that light so that we can help others to do the same. No matter what you do for a job, where you go in the world, when you have mastery over your own power, even just a little bit, your presence becomes a blessing and a beacon for others who are seeking to reconnect with their own power. Continue reading “Happy 11-11-11!”