Even for the most grounded person, it’s really not easy to rest in that calm abidance that is often times mentioned in Buddhism. These are seriously challenging times and so many feel pulled in all kinds of different directions.
As a human species, we have been through a thing or two and I’m always amazed how soothing it is for me personally to have a look at what ‘the books’ say. Whether it be A Course in Miracles or the Yoga Sutras, I love making time for it and seek for some guidance.
The Yoga Sutras tell us ‘Yogas citta vritti nirodhah’.
Or, how can we still the fluctuations of our minds to experience more peace of mind. In four chapters, the author of the sutras, Patanjali, shows us how the mind works. To summarise the whole book in one sentence, he’s telling us that in order to create more peace of mind, we need to explore the mind.
Exploring the mind or yoga for the mind, translates into creating awareness and meditation for me.
Especially now, in these challenging times.
Yoga for the Mind to overcome fear and anxiety: how to start
STEP 1: Pause
Pausing really is the very first step.
Making the time to train that beautiful mind of yours. Having that little bit of curiosity to dive into it.
STEP 2: Relax
If you’re completely stressed out, you need to take a couple of deep breaths first.
It would be very unfair to yourself to expect instant bliss, just because you sit or lie down and have this idea to meditate.
STEP 3: Observe
As soon as you’ve calmed down a bit, the only instruction I usually give, is to observe the breathe. Without any intention to change anything about the breathe, you ‘just’ observe the inhale and the exhale.
STEP 4: Concentrate
In learning how to concentrate and focus, you will tap into the foundations of what it takes to grow in meditation.
Concentrating and counting your own breath in rounds of 10 is probably the most often used technique, and a really good one!
STEP 5: Release
As soon as the body has settled and you’re getting into the counting, you can start working with your thoughts. As there will probably be many thoughts popping up. One technique that’s especially efficient and comforting in the beginning is to keep focusing on the breathe. You let go of the counting but you keep being mindful of the breath. This means that you do not get caught in your thoughts.
“Release, release, release”, is the mantra here.
There’s a lot more to it but this is, how incredibly simple it might seem, a really good way to start your practice.
By learning how to concentrate ‘on the mat’, we can transfer this skill ‘off the mat’ as well and this is when we can learn how to respond instead of react.
This is when we can empower our self to live the life that we want to live, even now. Even now, in times of confinement, we still have a lot of options when it comes to our own thoughts. Do we get hijacked by fear and anxiety or, do we respond by becoming deeply still and relaxed instead.
If you’re ready to start putting it into practice and experience the healing power of meditation, I invite you to follow one of our Meditation Programmes. Check out www.rachelbonkink.com .
Rachel Bonkink has been a yoga and meditation teacher since 2011.
Her book, Flex Your Mind, 10 powerful yoga principles for less stress in a busy world is well received in both the Yoga Community and beyond. You can order your copy here.