Your Meditative Homework Assignment: A Challenge in Neutrality
Meditative practice starts with the breath. We first recognize the neutrality and awareness of the touch of our breath, the way it feels in the nostrils and on our lips, and when our mind wanders we always bring it right back here. But as your practice evolves, you become aware of sensations.
These sensations are two-fold: those of the conscious mind and those of the unconscious mind. The conscious mind is aware of what it’s feeling. These are the pains we feel in our thighs from sitting for an hour, or those pins and needles when our feet fall asleep. But where the conscious mind ends, the unconscious mind continues to feel and carries these feelings with us into our waking life.
When you feel these sensations on your yoga mat, this is when true meditation begins. This is your chance to train the power of your mind to penetrate the unconscious and explore these feelings more fully. The unconscious is where our habits are formed, and only when we can tap into that unconscious mind can we start to change those habits and redirect our thoughts.
We aren’t just training ourselves to become neutral to the physical pains of yoga or exercise. We are training ourselves to remain neutral amid the annoyances and inconveniences of our daily lives. We each fight battles every day – battles with ourselves, with our loved ones, even in that traffic jam on the way to work. We continue to carry the energy of these battles throughout our day, never truly letting them go, but meditation gives us the tools to start letting go.
Guided meditations are a great place to start, but you have to fight your own battles. Your yoga teacher can turn on a flashlight and show you the way through the tunnel, but it’s you who will have to climb your way through. Realize that your yoga teacher and everyone else on their yoga mat today have their own battles to fight, and we are all putting in the mental work to be better, stronger, and more fulfilled.
Working out this yoga journey is a balance between wisdom and compassion. You need to find the right balance for you. Are you willing to take on the challenge? Try five minutes of meditation every day for a month and tell me how you feel. Maybe after one month, you can increase it to 10 minutes, or maybe you’re ready to take on a 10-day Meditation Retreat. No matter where you are on this yoga journey, I invite you to try this homework assignment and see where it leads you.
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