For the third straight morning, I roll out my Yoga mat on my living room floor and sit in half lotus pose. I straighten my back and rest my hands on my knees palms up, bringing the tips of my forefingers and thumbs together to create circles. Closing my eyes, I begin Ujjayi breathing, generating a sound reminiscent of the noise Darth Vader makes when he breathes. Ujjayi breathing allows me to feel my breath and I concentrate on following it in and out of my body. I draw air in through my nostrils and across the back of my throat, filling my stomach before I fill my lungs. I hesitate for just a second at the top of the breath, then exhale through my nose, emptying my lungs first and then my stomach. Pulling my belly button into my spine, I squeeze the last bit of air out of my stomach and then hesitate once more before drawing in another breath.
I envision heavy, negative energy leaving with each exhalation and bright, light energy entering my body with each inhalation. At some point I realize that my tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth. Gently I peel it away, allowing it to hang loose in my mouth, which forces me to unclench my jaw and relax my face. Breath flows to every part of my body, draining away all stress and tension. As I turn my gaze inward to my third eye, focusing on the spot between my eyebrows, a feeling of peace and serenity envelops me. The incessant chatter in my mind ceases and I feel as if I am floating, blissful.
I am not always so successful with my meditations. Sometimes I am so distracted that I find it impossible to get “into the zone,” but even during those times I find that beginning my day with a meditation – however brief – makes a tremendous difference in my life. Meditating sets the tone for my entire day. It helps me to keep things in perspective and to focus on the things in life that are truly important; things like loving kindness, unconditional acceptance, non-judgment, and caring for one another. So why do I resist doing it? During the past month I did not roll out the mat a single time. I created excuses. I was traveling and my normal schedule was disrupted. There was no good space available for meditation. I’m too busy today; I’ll do it tomorrow. Yada, yada, yada.
How ridiculous are all those excuses? No space? Give me a break. I could sit lotus in the smallest of spaces. No time? My mind tells me that I am not meditating unless I can sit for 30 minutes, but in truth I only need to commit to one minute. One single minute every day to clear my mind. What is so hard about that? What is it about the human condition that makes us resist what we know is in our best interest? I feel so much better when I meditate each day, yet I find every excuse not to do it.
Perhaps it will make a difference if I put it down in writing: “My New Years resolution is to meditate for at least a minute each day in 2009.” In addition to being my witnesses, in invite you all to join with me in the pursuit of inner peace. Those of you who have never practiced Ujjayi breathing may wish to check out the following video, which provides a clear explanation of the technique: