Waking up this morning – just, I reflected on the night before. Good friends, lively conversations, warm wishes as the clock struck midnight. Hugs and kisses.
New Years Eve nudges me to recall the years past events and fills me with gratitude for all that I have and have experienced in my life. It’s easy to rush through the day, mark the week by how quickly Friday comes and lament Sunday when it passes too soon. Often I find myself reflecting on a year in which I have achieved more, enjoyed more, than I had appreciated at the time. Milestones passed unrecognized, firsts not celebrated, lasts not cherished. And yet the next year rushes forth and I find myself surging ahead, blithely racing toward its ultimate conclusion.
This year will be different.
My New Year’s resolution is to savior each day, consciously living in the moment. Not the past – guilt inducing, nor the future – that way anxiety lay. But in each moment as it unfolds, letting it envelope me, fill me and then release me into the next, it becoming the past, retreating from view.
I can’t profess that I’ve determined exactly how I might keep my mind from straying to future plans or reflecting on what has been. But I will start by invoking one of my favourite techniques for stilling my monkey mind alongside two mantras that each serves its purpose in reminding me of the fullness of the here and now.
Nadi Shodhan Prayanama
Nadi = subtle energy channel
Shodhan = cleansing, purification
Pranayama = breathing technique
I started practicing Nadi Shodhan or cyclic breathing after being introduced to it during my yoga practice. Now it’s a ritual I adopted whenever I was feeling stressed or anxious. Though for 2018 I’m introducing it into my daily routine.
Sitting tall and relaxed I find being aware of my shoulders dropping away from my ears ensures I assume the correct posture. Allowing my left hand to rest on my left knee with my palm open and facing the sky or at times I adopt Chin Mudra (index finger & thumb gently touching). Placing the tip of the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in between the eyebrows, the ring finger & little finger left on my left nostril and the thumb on my right nostril. Close the right nostril pressing down with the thumb. Breathing out through the left nostril. Breathing in slowly through the left nostril and then pressing the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. Releasing the right thumb from the right nostril, I breathe out. Breathing in from the right nostril, exhaling slowly through the left. This is one cycle of Nadi Shodhan pranayama.
A few minutes (ideally 9 cycles) calms my mind and helps to dispel any rising anxiety. More importantly it brings me back to where I am rather than racing ahead in my mind to what comes next. Centering the mind it harmonizes the left and right hemispheres of the brain being respectively the logical and emotional sides of our personality.
Cycle breathing also ensures smooth flow of prana (life force) through the body by purifying and balancing the nadis; its subtle energy channels.
An added benefit I find is that it helps to maintain body temperature.
Right here, Right now
Artist: Fatboy Slim
Song: Right Here, Right Now
This line borrowed from a Fatboy Slim is my favourite mantra when I find myself fast-forwarding or mentally playing ‘could have, should have, would have’.
Whether I’m waking up and reaching for my phone rather than my journal or finding myself, mid-task struck by a mental reminder of something else that needs to be done it always brings me back to my self-determined priorities. Those determined important by me. Not in Pavlov-ic response to external demands. Not a non-complicit obligation, duty or deadline. Not somebody elses plans or purpose. Mine.
Not a little ironically you’ll find it on their 1998 album You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
When it feels that life is a little off, whether things are not going as planned or I find myself unable to plan at all I change focus from a still, daily meditation to a chant. Helping me find clarity of mind or in facing difficulties the vibration of root chakra mantra ‘Om gum ganapatiye namah’ collects all my disparate thoughts into one.
The obstacles that the mantra removes are the ones in our mind, and as they clear, my external path clears too. Focusing the mind makes most things I am facing feel much more attainable. Decisions are more easily made. Perhaps the result is a case of mind over matter but sometimes a simple change of perspective creates the clarity we need to live purposefully.
After a few days of chanting I notice the absence of noise in my head.