When I look at amniotic fluid, I am looking at rain falling on orange groves. I am looking at melon fields, potatoes in wet earth, frost on pasture grasses. The blood of cows and chickens is in this tube. The nectar gathered by bees and hummingbirds is in this tube. Whatever is inside hummingbird eggs is also inside my womb. Whatever is in the world's water is here in my hands. ~ Sandra Steingraber
We come to know the world through our senses -- seeing, touching, hearing, smelling, tasting -- and through the knowing faculty of the mind. So today, we will begin our mindfulness practice by bringing our full attention to these senses, one by one, as we experience eating one raisin mindfully.
You might find this meditation a little odd. However, from a mindfulness perspective a little novelty can serve us well, waking us from habitual ways of seeing that can come between us and our direct experience of living. Thus, we are going to experiment with bringing beginner's mind to this experience, as if you were a newborn baby and had never seen a raisin before because, in truth, you have never seen this raisin before.
So, let's begin. As promised, here is the first mindfulness meditation practice from one of the books we have been working with: Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond, by Nancy Bardacke.
For this practice, you will need the following:
If you followed the instructions above, you have just eaten one raisin mindfully, bringing focused attention to each moment, observing the three pillars of experience: body sensations, thoughts, and emotions. There is much to learn from this meditation, and after you have practiced it, please spend some time processing your experience and perhaps sharing your experience with me in the comments below.
Becoming Aware of Interconnectedness
There's another important aspect of this meditation: becoming aware of interconnectedness. It can be helpful to think of mindful awareness as a lens. Sometimes we use it in a very focused way, as we just did with the raisin, using all our senses to observe every detail of our experience. And sometimes we widen the lens of mindfulness so that our awareness expands to take in the bigger picture. We nurture both of these aspects of awareness as we practice.
In this wider, more spacious view, we become aware of the larger context of being, in which we can see how everything is interconnected. Sometimes called, "looking deeply," this aspect of practice helps us become aware of the multitude of causes and conditions that are a very real part of our experience in this very moment. If you would like to experience this more expansive view, I invite you to follow along with a second set of Raisin Meditation instructions next time, in my next blog post. ❤ ~ Ashley
The World in a Raisin - A Mindfulness Meditation on Interconnectedness
~ IN THE MEANTIME, TAKE A LOOK AT THIS LITTLE YOGI ~
Bardacke, Nancy. Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond. HarperOne, 2012.
Do you recall how a few days ago, I wrote a bit about Pranayama: Breathing - Lesson 1, and I provided a recording with a lecture about the importance of breath awareness and deep breathing? And how I also gave the instructions to our first pranayama practice, Yogic Breathing?
I have been practicing Yogic Breathing now for a few days. It has not been easy haha. My mind really likes to wander around! So... In the following video, I chose to share this morning's pranayama experience with you in order to discuss the following issues that I have had (and perhaps you have had as well???) Am I alone here in the struggle? ;)
Anyways, if you find yourself wandering a bit or struggling too, then you're not alone! We will get through it together by practicing daily and by remembering to kindly and gently bring our attention back to the breath.
Please let me know how you are doing! Comment in solidarity haha.
In the meantime, please enjoy watching me confess my own struggles. And please consider taking advantage of the written instructions to Yogic Breathing that I've included for you below. :) Don't forget, you could also listen to the recording if you wished via the last blog post. The practice starts around 18:00, I think. OH. And if you're an email recipient of this post, you'll have to click on the link below in order to view the video. ~ Ashley
The Struggle is Real, But Temporary
Inhale slowly by allowing your abdomen to expand.
Try to breathe so slowly that little or no sound of breath can be heard.
At the end of the abdominal expansion, start to expand your chest outwards and upwards.
At the end of this movement draw your collarbone and shoulders toward your head.
This completes 1 inhalation.
The whole process should be one continuous movement, each phase of breathing merging into the next, without there being any obvious transition point.
There should be no jerks or unnecessary strain. Your breathing should be like the swell of the sea.
The rest of the body should be relaxed. Now start to exhale.
First relax your collarbone and shoulders.
Then allow your chest to move, first downwards towards the feet and then inwards.
After this allow the abdomen to contract.
Don't strain but try to empty the lungs as much as possible by drawing or pulling the abdominal wall as near as possible to the spine.
Again the whole movement should be a harmonious whole.
This completes 1 round of yogic breathing.
Hold your breath for a second or two at the end of each inhalation and exhalation.
Inhale and do another round.
Do up to 5 rounds on your first day of practice.
Every day increase your practice by 2 rounds, or as time permits.
Ten minutes yogic breathing is a reasonable length of time to eventually aim at. With enough practice you will find that the whole movement will occur naturally. No effort will be required.
Since I began this re-journey into Kriya Yoga via the amazing book, “A Systematic Course in the Ancient and Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya” by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, I have seen a remarkable difference in my hips, back, and overall psyche. I have also had a number of questions come up. For example, I wondered:
I’ve answered some of those ponderings down below in this first video. And, in the second sped up video, I’ve demonstrated the asana portion of the practice in its entirety.
I WAS THINKING... if you have time now in your quarantine routine, and if maybe you would like to catch up and do the practice together, please reach out to me! I’m happy to walk you through the whole program from lesson one of our book. :)
Hi! Long Time, No See
If you happen to be a subscriber to my little blog, then you are probably receiving this in your email box instead of say, viewing it from my website. If that's the case, then most likely these videos don't actually appear in your email. That's because Mailchimp (the company I use to send out this blog via email) doesn't like the formatting of this video. I have no idea how to change that. What I do know is another solution. Click on the Links/Buttons below :) ~ Ashley
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
donating = loving
If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing - between a cup of tea and a good lunch. My intention is to always keep my research found within The Yoga Blog and Journals for My Daughter free (and ad-free). It takes me hundreds of hours a month to sustain. Your support really matters. All proceeds go directly to Isabella, of course. ❤
♥ $3 / month
♥ $5 / month
♥ $7 / month
♥ $10 / month
♥ $25 / month
You can also become a Spontaneous Supporter with a one-time donation in any amount: