“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee
Our Kunga Yoga theme for the month of March is 10 Minutes of Meditation.
“Kunga” is the Kinyerwandan word for “to help, to serve, to reconcile.” All Kunga Yoga classes have a monthly community service teaching, and all Kunga Yoga certified teachers donate 5% of their proceeds to charity.
At the end of every Kunga Yoga Class for the month of March we will offer 10 minutes of guided, seated meditation. This includes one hour yoga classes (45 Minutes Asana, 5 minutes savasana, 10 minutes meditation).
What is Meditation?
“Dhyana” (pronounced dee-YAH-nah) means “meditation”. Meditation is the process of quieting the mind to free ourselves from attachments and unproductive thoughts. The benefits of meditation seem endless! How does meditation serve ourselves and others? Through a consistent meditation practice we can gain emotional and mental stability, clarity in decision-making; peace of mind within communications and relationships, an unleashing of creative energy, and a beautiful sense of self-worth. On a physical level, regular meditation has been proven to greatly influence the body’s metabolic processes and reduce high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. So… the purpose of our meditation is to begin to focus our mental energy inward, so that we may tap into resources deep within ourselves. This process of stilling the mind allows us to experience our true nature, which is revealed as truth, consciousness, or bliss. In Sanskrit this is called “satchitinananda”.
Why 10 Minutes of Meditation?
The purpose of meditation is to draw our focus inward, connecting to our inner source. This inward focus can be especially healing to the individual in the West because our culture often encourages and supports an overabundance of outward focused energy and activities. Meditation offers us an activity that is not outward focused, that embraces stillness, quiet, and calm. Through the teachings of Patanjali and many other yogic texts, we are taught that through the stilling of the mind, we are allowed to experience our true nature, as truth, consciousness, bliss (satchitananda). Our goal this month is for our students and teachers to practice 15 minutes of meditation daily (at home or in class), which is 1% of the amount of time we have in our day. At the end of this one month experiment, we recommend journaling to capture your experience. We also recommend the ancient practice of Metta meditation, a contemplation practice of extending loving kindness towards all beings, during this powerful experiment within our community.
Putting Meditation into Practice:
As your mind and body relax, begin to notice the thoughts that come and go. Notice especially those thoughts that seem to be reoccurring in your mind daily. Can you let go of those thought patterns? This can be very difficult at first, because we are so used to having busy minds. This can be especially difficult in Western culture due to the over stimulation of our minds with the growing influx of computers, televisions, media information, etc. Sometimes it can even seem virtually impossible to stop following and obsessing over the thoughts racing through our minds- from what we’re going to eat for lunch, to the argument we had with our spouse, to the project deadline at work, to the endless to-do list that we have to complete.
We have become conditioned to believe that every minute should count and that we should always be working, doing as much as possible. Meditation is the opposite of this notion. Meditation teaches us that occasionally we need to still the mind in order for it to work at its optimum capacity! Just like any type of perpetual motion machinery, the mind needs care and maintenance. By learning to release, relax, and let go of stress in the mind, we begin to clear out all of the cobwebs, and establish a beautiful foundation for some really good stuff to come in! We begin to learn to let go of trivial concerns, to observe and control our emotions, and to focus our mind power on the work that is truly important in our lives.
Preparation for Meditation:
1. Choose a regular place and time in the beginning of your practice. Becoming accustomed to this place and time, your meditation will deepen.
2. In the beginning of your practice, it is helpful to choose a place that is clean, well-ventilated, and quiet, without stimulants such as sound and bright light. However, eventually the true heart of our meditation practice lies in being able to maintain mindfulness even amidst the sounds of traffic, subways, cluttered buildings, etc. Under these circumstances we are given a very potent opportunity to practice staying present, aware of the breath, and the mind’s reactions.
3. Wear comfortable clothing. Sit either on a straight-backed chair or in a comfortable sitting position, allowing the spine to be erect. Use a cushion or a folded blanket to tilt the pelvis slightly forward. You may also use a wall for support of the spine-try your best not to slump, so that the lungs may expand fully.
5. Begin with a relaxed body. Some preparatory relaxing and focusing breathing exercises will be very helpful. Ujjayi breath is a wonderful, grounding pranayam technique to begin with. Allow tension to release from your body.
6. Enjoy! Let go of any expectations of yourself, and give it a shot. It’s fun to observe yourself just “being!”
Teaching Tips for Meditation:
1. Introduce Meditation through Guiding of Pranayama Techniques, Guided Metta Meditation, or other helpful guided practices.
2. Most beginners will need to begin with the physical process of meditation before moving onto the mental/emotional/spiritual processes of meditation. Provide constant reminders to come back to the
3. Keep your instructions clear, concise, and simple, without feeling the need to fill the space of silence with your words.
4. Offer continual reminders to “Relax, Let Go, Breathe, Watch, Allow”
5. Offer reminders of developing compassion for oneself, having a sense of lightness around thoughts coming and going, and affirm that just by trying they are meditating perfectly.
6. Use Physical Reminders of keeping the spine tall, heart and lungs open, shoulders relaxed, and remind them to support themselves at any time that they feel the need to adjust their seated position for more comfort.
7. Be prepared for dealing with an emotional release or breakdown. This can show up as loss of sensation in limbs, severe discomfort closing eyes and staying in the body, or extreme release of emotion. Suggest that the student keep the eyes open, focus on slow controlled breath, and try other spiritual practices or shorten meditation time.
8. Teach meditation in a silent room (no music).
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
Metta Meditation Practice: