Namaste my loves. Thank you for joining me again for our weekly meditation. And if it’s your first time with me here, welcome. Thank you for being here.
New Normal. Is something that I’ve been hearing a lot. Either with friends or family. That we’ve entered into this new style of living which feels so far from what was our “usual”.
And in this time I know there is a mixture of feelings and energies moving around.
Deep fear of the unknown.
Immense gratitude for our communities and support systems.
And maybe even the acknowledgement of the safety and security we have been experiencing.
It is a new normal, unlike anything any of us have ever experienced.
And as we settle into our new schedules of either having more or less time in our days than we did before, we have been given an incredible opportunity for our perspective to shift.
I’m mentioning this as someone who has only one eye and so what I see and perceive visually is very different from those of you with two eyes. We all have different ways for seeing. So regardless of our visual capacity, be it 20/20 or legally blind, we each have an opportunity here, today and now to shift how we perceive this new normal with intentionally.
Because that’s what meditation offers for us: the opportunity to enter into the present moment with purpose.
This is also a season of new birth and growth as we watch the daffodils and tulips make their entrances and the spring trees begin to bloom. But amidst all this new life we must remember the winter. I know we want to forget it. But we can’t forget all that had to pass away and die for these flowers to bud.
It is a cycle.
There was a necessary fall and clearing which happened six months ago. All of the trees had to lose their leaves in order for the buds to bloom.
It is a cycle.
Death always leads way to birth.
In Advaita Vedanta, or a non-dual philosophical teaching, we start to first observe the cycles of death and rebirth which make up the individual chapters and whole trajectory of our lives. We can observe how birth and death frame our lives which span decades. We can also recognize the chapters of our life where childhood ends and adulthood begins. We can go smaller and recognize, even, the energizing life of an inhale and the surrender and release of an exhale.
The Poet Rumi says, “Death has nothing to do with going away. The sun sets and the moon sets, but they're not gone. Death is a coming together. “
As each night begins, the sun must set and go away so that we can rest, and then at sunrise, we are each born again as we wake up.
Even Lao Tzo was quoted in saying, “Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”
If we view Death and Life as inseparable, necessary aspects of our existence, then one does not have more power than the other. They’re both necessary. In this non-dualism. In this connection. In this oneness. In this unity, we begin to find liberation or Moksha out of the cycle of reincarnation. The death and rebirth. It’s how we start to get off the ferris wheel.
Our lives are a gift for us to learn, the difficult and beautiful lessons of what being human truly means. Our journey might include wanting to become Boddhisattva, or enlightened beings, fully liberated from the chains which bind us to the samskara of humanity…but it is our joyful practice to sit with, practice with and be with all that it means to be alive right now. To be alive with our death.
This is a practice I started at a very young age, going into the hospital for my cancer treatment check ups, uncertain what outcome would be. But as children are in their wise innocence, I was also fully committed to play, to tell stories, to laugh and to live. I mention this to make it personal, because the philosophical theory can get a bit heady, but also because over thirty years that experience that childhood experience which is in distant past, still serves as a lesson for me to be fully alive today with my death.
Today we will practice Calm Abiding Meditation or Shamata Meditation. And in this practice we use the body as the object of our meditation to calm the mind and anchor it in the present. As I had mentioned, our bodies are an incredible gift for us to use, both physically and as the object of our observation. Today we will scan our bodies to direct the mind into a single focus.
Notice your lower body. Uncross your legs. Feel the stability of your legs supported by the floor and your seat. Is there anything that you can soften in your lower body?
If you would like back support, lean back. Notice the strength of your back and the softness on the front of your body. Allow your breath the move easily through you. Is there anything that you can soften in your torso?
Bring your attention to your arms hanging next to you and where your hands assemble in your lap and on your legs. Are they pointing upwards? Downwards? Are they making a fist? Is there anything that you can soften in your arms and hands?
Notice your shoulders and your jaw. How they hold up and prop your great head and brain. Bring your awareness to your face. Can you soften your mouth? Your nose? Your ears? Your eyes? Your forehead?
Can you soften and calm your mind?
Now in the calm and aware state we will practice again our Sama Vritti Pranayama. Where our inhale is the same length as our exhale with a slight pause or suspension at the top and bottom of the breathe.
To ensure that both side of the breath are equal, I recommend counting to 4.
It will be like this Inhale 4-3-2-1 pause Exhale 4-3-2-1 pause.
If at any point you notice your body tensing up again, please return to the Calm Abiding meditation to relax in awareness.
Take your time with this.
As always, you’re welcome to remain here longer, if you wish and time allows. Thank you so much for joining me today. I look forward to connecting with you further here on Instagram and on my website SarahGirardYoga.com. Our weekly movement practice will be this Saturday morning at 7amPST/10am EST. Your generous contributions have really made a difference in this difficult and confusing time.