A Year in Meditation

In keeping with my trend from last year, it has taken me a while to figure out just what I’m going to DO this year. 2015 was the Year in Yamas and Niyamas, during which I practiced one of the Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observances) in depth each month, February through November. It was a wonderful practice and incredibly enlightening for me to really delve into each of these practices for 30 days or so, to study what it means to practice non-violence or self-discipline in my daily life. Just as enlightening was how easy it is to forget one’s intention for 20 of those 30 days. By no means was I completely successful or true to my practice each month. I faltered, I failed, and I got back up. But perhaps THAT is the practice – trying to do something, realizing when it’s hard or seems impossible, and figuring out how to do it anyway. It is easy to be a kind and one-pointed spiritual being if you live in an ashram in the mountains, not so much when you are juggling work, school, family, friends, life, death, and all that jazz. But there is where the task, and beauty, lies. How do we live the life of a yogi when our world is anything but accommodating to a clean, honest, and meaningful lifestyle? I won’t say “I did it!” but I sure as hell tried, and think I learned a few things along the way.

This year I have decided to simplify things a little bit. Seeing as how my life is only about to get more complicated with teaching, grad school, and traveling, I will take this opportunity to get back to basics. Basically, I will meditate every day. Every day in in 2016 I will sit in silent meditation, perhaps for 5 minutes, maybe for 20, but I will sit. It is a simple and relatively easy practice that I KNOW is integral to any yogi’s daily practice, yet somehow I forget. I forget how much better (clearer, calmer, more focused, more honest, etc.) I feel when I have a consistent meditation practice. I forget that not only my mind, but my body, feels best when I have sat for a few minutes each morning; things get aligned, my digestion is good, I feel “complete”. Meditation IS simple… you just SIT. But it’s not always easy to carve out space for it in one’s day. The dishes need to be done, there are people calling for your attention, work is crashing down on you, and let’s face it… people be TIRED! But meditation makes ALL those things better, or at least easier to tackle. Life, as daunting as it can be, is more pleasant when you are able approach it with an undistracted mind – one of the many benefits of meditation.

Along with this “resolution” I will revisit some ideas from last year. I will crack those yoga texts that are collecting dust on my bookshelves. I will make it a habit to read a little bit from some sacred text (The Yoga Sutras, The Bhagavad Gita, Light on Yoga, etc.) before my meditation each day. There is an overflowing wealth of knowledge and guidance at arm’s reach, yet somehow I manage to watch puppy videos or take Buzzfeed quizzes instead (which, let’s face it, can be just as revealing). I am not giving myself an ultimatum or setting a quotient (I will read 20 pages every day!) because that would be unrealistic. Like the meditation (and asana, and pranayama, and each of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, for that matter), it’s not the amount of time you spend doing it, but frequency with which you practice that matters most.  A little yoga (in any/all of its facets) every day is better than a lot of yoga once in a while. So, with that, I vow to practice meditation, in some capacity, every day over the next year. Supporting this intention, I will practice moksha shastra (reading spiritual texts), and of course japa (mantra repetition – more on that later). Most importantly, I will remember to sit. I will sit quietly and let the practice serve its purpose. When I get up, the dishes will still be there, work will scream out, and life will go on, but, perhaps, it will all seem a little bit easier.

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