Yoga for Depression – 10.30.14 (Karuna Meditation)

We all suffer.  We all fall down.  It is part of being human.

The beauty is that we are completely capable of caring for ourselves through our ability to be compassionate.  We want to help others.  It is born into us.  However, it is extremely hard to show compassion to the one we know the most about.  It is often times hard to show compassion towards ourselves.  We know every intimate detail of each moment.  We know our joys, but we also know our deepest and darkest secrets.  Are we worthy of such compassion?  Yes.

You are worth your own love.  You are worth your own compassion.  Each and every new moment is an opportunity to amaze yourself.  In the present, you can find an experience that is new and beautiful.  Grab on to the moment and understand that we all suffer.  Grab on to the moment and understand that we all fall down.  The person that your mind draws to in the meditation below could be suffering right along with you.  The kind words that you speak to them must also be the kind words you speak to yourself.  You’re pretty damn cool.  Just sayin’.  Namaste!

Yoga Experience – Karuna Meditation

This meditation experience is called Karuna, which in both Sanskrit and Pali means compassion.  How, even in our deepest depression or in the midst of a panic attack, can we find compassion for ourselves?  Traditional texts suggest the two simple phrases to cultivate the state of compassion – May I be free from suffering, May I find peace.  At first, as you repeat these phrases, they may feel hollow, especially if you are suffering right now from depression.  Practicing karuna meditation can help break the grip of our self-absorbed, obsessive thoughts so that we are awake to compassion for ourselves and others.

Sometimes the darkness may feel so overwhelming that we forget even the memory of light.  But when we bring compassion into the dark, we realize that we are not alone there.  All human beings suffer.  It is part of the human condition.  In fact, says author and theologian Mathew Fox, suffering is “the heartbeat of the universe.”  Our suffering is both intimate – ours alone – and communal, connecting us with others, enlarging our capacity to feel compassion.  When we practice karuna we grow our compassion, even in the darkness.  The heart softens and the mind is soothed.

Below is a Karuna Meditation Script.
Now bring into your mind someone still alive who has offered you unconditional regard, someone whose love you can feel.  Perhaps this person is suffering now, perhaps not.  As human beings, we all face great physical pain or mental suffering in our lives.  If your loved one isn’t suffering now, he or she will be at some time in the future.  See his or her face shining in your imagination.  Continuing to breathe slowly and deeply, breathe in with the words May you be free from suffering.  Breathe out with the words May you find peace.  Feel that person’s regard for you and send them compassion, repeating the phrases several times.

Now it is time to offer the same compassion to yourself.  Repeat the phrases, using a long, slow inhalation and exhalation, changing the pronoun to “I.”  Acknowledge the suffering you have felt and the suffering you may have caused others as you continue to breathe and offer yourself compassion.  Without any judgment, hold yourself as you would your beloved in your heart and offer yourself compassion and forgiveness.  May I be free from suffering, May I find peace.

If you feel the compassion dissolving into fear or grief or some other disturbing mental state, do not judge yourself.  Accept your humanness and acknowledge your heart – how you have the capacity to feel all your emotions.  Let the breath be like a soothing lullaby to yourself.  Fill your lungs with breath until there is not more room, then exhale completely, so that you are completely empty and ready to receive.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub (BUY IT!)

Advertisements

Performance Yoga – 9.15.14 (Controllability and Forest Meditation)

In yoga, there is a freedom to allow the brain to be what it is.  It is a place that stores EVERYTHING.  The positive, the negative and the flat out creepy.  To have control is to relinquish control.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed by our thoughts.  I know this.  It takes practice to allow the mind to flow and not make judgments on ourselves because of what cascades across the present.  If retained, a number of psychological issues begin to form.  There is no judgment on your mat … simply the acknowledgment of the thought.  Allow the present moment to be a wonderful place where you can release stress.

Controllability – Make the image do what you want it to do. Many athletes have difficulty controlling their images,
often repeating the same mistake over and over, or failing to conjure up the appropriate image. Learn how to
program your own “internal computer” so you are confident and focused on those things you want to occur.
from “Teaching Athletes Visualization and Mental Imagery Skills” by David Yukelson, Ph.D. Penn State University

FOREST MEDITATION
Modified from http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/forest-visualization.html

Imagine yourself walking on a path through a forest. The path is soft beneath your shoes, a mixture of soil, fallen leaves, pine needles, and moss. As you walk, your body relaxes and your mind clears, more and more with each step you take.

Breathe in the fresh mountain air, filling your lungs completely. Now exhale. Breathe out all the air. Feeling refreshed.

Take another deep breath in…revitalizing…. and breathe out completely, letting your body relax further.

Continue to breathe slowly and deeply as you walk through the forest and continue the forest visualization.

The air is cool, but comfortable. Sun filters through the trees, making a moving dappled pattern on the ground before you.

Listen to the sounds of the forest…. Birds singing. A gentle breeze blowing. The leaves on the trees shift and sway in the soft wind.

Your body relaxes more and more as you walk. Count your steps and breathe in unison with your strides. Breathe in 2, 3, 4… hold 2, 3…exhale 2, 3, 4, 5.

Breathe in 2, 3, 4… hold 2, 3…exhale 2, 3, 4, 5.

Breathe in 2, 3, 4… hold 2, 3…exhale 2, 3, 4, 5.

Continue to breathe like this, slowly and deeply, as you become more and more relaxed.

As you walk through the forest visualization, feel your muscles relaxing and lengthening. As your arms swing in rhythm with your walking, they become loose, relaxed, and limp.

Feel your back relaxing as your spine lengthens and the muscles relax. Feel the tension leaving your body as you admire the scenery around you.

Your legs and lower body relax as well, feeling free and relaxed.

You begin to climb up a slight incline. You easily tread along smooth rocks on the path. Feeling at one with nature.

The breeze continues to blow through the treetops, but you are sheltered on the path, and the air around you is calm.

Performance Yoga – 7.28.14 (Meditation)

 Most of us do this without consciously being aware.  We meditate.  Whether it is during a mindless routine at work, walking from the restaurant door back to the car or in mile ten of a bike ride.  There are those moments when the brain goes on auto pilot and we begin to think.  It can be a very positive time or it can be a very negative time.  “Meditation teaches patience, acceptance, and equanimity, all important mental skills.” (Yoga for Athletes)

  I know that each of us would love more patience, acceptance and equanimity (defined as mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation).  If there is a situation at work, a rude waiter or waitress at a restaurant or worn out legs on mile twenty of a ride, we all want the patience to accept the moment and build from it.  What can be done in the present moment to keep that calmness and composure in the difficult situation?  I believe that this skill is truly one of the most powerful a person can possess.  All the hard work and dedication of a lifetime can be undone by a single moment of frustration, ignorance or fear.  I’m guilty of letting these three creep in over my lifetime.  Meditation can actively aid you against these negative thoughts in the present moment.  Will you allow yourself the opportunity to see the benefits?

Meditation

  “Meditation teaches patience, acceptance, and equanimity, all important mental skills for athletes.  Sitting quietly for long periods of time cultivates endurance, as you learn to receive feedback from your body and mind while you patiently remain still.  As you meditate, you’ll constantly shepherd your thoughts back to the present moment, which helps you learn to accept things as they are right now, not as you remember them being in the past or wish they would be in the future.  As you probably know from experience, things on the course often go wrong in unanticipated ways.  The longer the race, the more opportunities for mental distractions (lack of focus, negativity, self-doubt), physical imbalance (dehydration, bonking, discomfort that gives way to pain), and equipment breakdown.  Meditation will impart focus and greater body awareness that will serve you well in critical situations when you really need to keep it together.  And while meditation won’t fix a bent derailleur or change a flat, it will help give you a calmer outlook when things go wrong.

  Equanimity – mental balance across various circumstances – is very powerful.  This positive indifference or detachment comes from being completely in the present moment, dealing with things as they are, not as you wish they were.  The less attached you are to the outcome, the more content you will be.  

  One minor way to foster equanimity is not to start your watch.  A bigger one is to be grateful for what you do have – fitness, health, and the opportunity to step on your mat – which puts minor annoyances into perspective.”

BOOK – “The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” by Sage Rountree.