Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
My morning meditation space is in my front room, facing the window. It faces east, so when I begin, often it is dark outside or just starting to glow. This time of year, however, I'm facing the Christmas tree that stands in front of the window. It has its own glow. It's covered in ornaments. As I'm "supposed" to be meditating, I can't help but reflect upon these ornaments. They are like stories of the past whispering to me as I look at each one. There are faces of my kids, crafts, ornaments from our travels, gifts from friends~ they each bring me to a place in time that was lovely. I FEEL that sense of lovliness as I look at them. My meditation is happy.
Why focus on these ornaments? This is active linking. It gives my whole being/system a sense of joy, peace, and love. This moves me away from suffering--stress, grief, etc--and towards satva, or equanimity. Yoga is the ability to keep focus and attention on a single object and maintain that direction of the mind. As I look at an ornament and maintain focus there, I link to the memory, and I feel what I felt when the ornament was purchased or received. Now I have a tool, through this image or symbol, to recall a sense of peace when I need it. Through active witnessing, I see when I begin to move out of balance towards overactivity, negative thought, or anxiety. Once I witness this, I can call upon this symbol and the feeling from my meditation and return to a more satvic state.
Symbols of this season keep our hopes alive and evoke peace in our hearts: light of a candle shining through the darkness, a star that leads the way, a baby full of possibility and promise, gifts given and received because you care for one another, evergreen to show life continues during what looks like earth's death, warmth of the fire, miracles that show God's providence.
This is not nothing! The active linking of the mind to these and other hopeful symbols changes our experience of life for the better. But it takes effort.
What is your symbol of the season? Look for something from around your house that, when you focus on it, gives you peace. Or go into your memory to a place of sanctuary for your soul. Listen to your breath and breathe slowy as you look at or recall your symbol. Witness the thoughts and feelings that arise. If your thoughts move away from the symbol, bring them back with love and patience. If you are kinetic, you can inhale and reach toward the symbol, exhale and bring your hands to your heart. Experiment to see what works best for you. Give yourself this gift of meditation!
May peace, joy, laughter, warmth, and prosperity be with you now and into 2017. I hope to see or hear from you in the New Year!
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.