Posture is perhaps the first aspect of your meditation practice that demands consideration, as learning to sit properly is one of the most essential skills of meditation.
A good posture is one that provides a balance between being comfortable and alert, and one that you could easily maintain over an extended period of time. The essence of good posture is the ability to sit upright, not too hunched over.
There exist a variety of poses that enable good posture for the meditator. Here are the four most basic poses:
Uncovering the shadow is one of two approaches that I suggest as ways of acquiring greater self-understanding.
For a description of the another approach to self-understanding, visit my article here.
The shadow is the dark side of our psyche, the aspects of ourselves that is disconnected, disowned, rejected, repressed, hidden from ourselves, and often projected onto others.
Our shadow is unconscious, meaning that we are not aware of it. You can think of your shadow as your blind spots, in the same way that trucks have blind spots, parts of the road behind them that are not visible in the mirror.
Shadows accumulate when we are unwilling to own our emotions. Here's an example:
A little girl is angry with her mother but unwilling to acknowledge his anger because expressing it would be a threat to her protection and survival, since she depends on her mother. She may projects her anger onto an inner image of “you” or “them,” or “everyone,” thinking your are angry, they are angry, or everyone is angry, even though these people have nothing to do with source of the anger, her own feelings.
The goal is to reintegrate the shadow to unlock energy for our growth and transformation. Here how you can do it:
Start by choosing something you can work with, such as a difficult person, a dream image, an uncomfortable body sensation, or anything that causes strong attraction or aversion.
Then follow these steps…
Stress is not necessarily bad. The biographies of great scientists, explorers, artists, and entrepreneurs reveal that times of intense stress are also times of inspiration and creativity, productivity and accomplishment.
Yet stress, if not properly managed, can nevertheless interfere with all aspects of your life.
Meditation is one of the most helpful practices for reducing stress, but I want to recommend two techniques that you can practice at other times throughout the day…
I have always wondered what it would be like to inhale the same quality of air as a yogi living on a mountaintop somewhere in the Himalayas. I like to imagine sitting up there on the grass with my legs crossed in lotus style, as I experienced perfectly serene breath, inhaling 100% purity with each molecule of oxygen.
If you’re anything like me, you’d prefer to inhale the same quality of air too.
But alas, most of us are ordinary people, living in cities with lots of pollution, suburban areas with lots of pollination, and households with pet dander.
And it can be very difficult to meditate when your nostrils are blocked or runny due to these allergens and pollutants.
That’s why I want to take a few moments here to talk about an important internal cleansing exercise that will rinse your sinuses of all impurities and serve as a great preparation for meditation — it’s called neti…
Smudging is a practice of burning herbs, especially sage and cedar, as a way of cleansing spiritual energy within your environment, including your home and office.
The practice of burning sage and cedar began with indigenous people of North America (the Lakota, Chumash, and Cahuilla, among others) for the ceremonial purpose of purifying people and places, although people all around the world have burned various substances — incense for example — as part of their spiritual traditions throughout the centuries.
Advocates of smudging say that the practice helps restore positive energy and that it can help shake off negativity that keeps us feeling tired and depressed.
People even claim that smudging can fend off negative spirits and bad entities that can occupy our living space.
While this all may sound like superstition or “woo-woo” for some, there is at least some actual scientific evidence that the practice can effectively detox the house by killing off negative pathogens that live in the air and that this has positive physical and mental outcomes.
Here’s a look at a few of the potential benefits of smudging:
We can define oil pulling as the practice of swishing oil in your mouth to eliminate bacteria and improve oral hygiene.
You can think of the practice as a more natural alternative to washing your mouth with neon green Listerine that contains God-knows-what.
I first came across the practice of oil pulling a few years ago from a friend that was really interested in the study of Ayurveda.
But let me tell you…
After seeing it demonstrated and then trying it myself a few times — swishing that clear, viscous coconut through my mouth, fighting off a gag reflex, and feeling like my mouth contained something akin to the texture of a slug — I wasn’t immediately a fan for life.
But I’ve done quite a bit of research on the benefits of oil pulling for oral hygiene, and I’ve finally come around to incorporating it into my daily self-care routine.
Me at 7.15 this morning: Swishing coconut oil around my mouth while standing in the shower shampooing my hair and rubbing body wash beneath my armpits, loving it like it was the best thing since sliced bread.
So let’s look at some of the benefits of this practice