Yoga teachers often instruct our students to “focus on your breath.” But what does that mean exactly? This guided meditation walks you through observing several different qualities of the breath. Learning how to notice these fine qualities helps attune your perception of your own physical self right here, right now. Plugging into how you actually feel physically in your body opens the door to deeper inquiry into the self.
Adapt your inner landscape
Bartolome Island in the Galapagos Archipelago is pretty new — only about 1.5-million years old. Not much grows there yet. But these little colorless plants have found a foothold on the hardened lava. Somehow the seeds found their way to this tiny rock in the middle of the ocean. It may not be perfect, but they will adapt! And as they cling to all there is there, and live and die and decay, they will provide the seeds and soil for new life to thrive.
Our own inner landscapes provide much more fertile ground for all kinds of things to grow. In Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches mindfulness with the metaphor of planting seeds for the things you want to grow. We can choose to plant and nourish seeds of compassion, kindness, and gratitude. Or, we can choose to plant and feed jealousy, shame, or greed. Or maybe just plain ole bad habits.
In our meditation this week, we will work on cultivating some new seeds. The meditation is adapted from the book, Just One Thing, by Rick Hanson, PhD. Using the latest research on experience-dependent neuroplasticity, Hanson describes practices for “using the mind to change the brain.” Research increasingly shows that our brains—the actual connections between neurons that constitute what we think, how we react and how we feel—are shaped by our lived experiences. And, as it turns out, what we think counts as part of our lived experience. Hanson’s exercises provide opportunities to practice new ways of thinking, to reshape your brain, and provide newly fertile ground for the kind of life you want to live.
In yoga, we say “where the mind goes, prana flows.” Let’s give it a try together!