Now, as promised, here are some notes on what we did to help you practise at home. Please note the following exercises are only provided for the use of students who have already attended the class.
Before starting your meditation it helps to warm up with some gentle exercises. Some people already practise yoga asanas, Thai Chi, Chi Kung or some other body work. However, if you have no such routine, you can still learn some simple movements to prepare your body and mind.
In many mind body systems it is believed we benefit from moving energy around our body. In India this energy is called Prana, in China it is called Chi and in Hawaii it's Mana. Whatever the nature of this energy, it seems performing some simple traditional exercises prepares our mind and body for successful meditation.
In the first week we tried six exercises (adapted from "Hidden Dangers of Meditation & Yoga" by Del Pe):
1) Shake your body
Wriggle your fingers and toes
Just loosen up the whole body - shake the arms, wrists, legs, ankles, shoulders and gentle sway from the hips and from the waist
There is no need to force any movements
Sometimes it helps to imagine you are a tree gentle moving in a breeze
2) Exercise those eyes
Do each of the following eye movements ten times:
Up and down
Side to side
Diagonally in each direction
Gently rub your eyes and face
3) Loosen the neck
NB. If you have any kind of neck injury please seek medical advice before doing this exercise.
Do each of the following neck movements ten times:
Tilt from side to side
Then from left to right to left and so on
Tip head back whilst inhaling through your nose and tip head forward whilst exhaling through mouth
Rotate in one direction
Then rotate in the opposite direction
4) Shoulders and spine - releasing stress
Place your hands together in front of your tummy, palms face down and fingers gently stretched outwards
Raise your arms upwards towards the back of your head as you rapidly inhale, tilting your head backwards and arching your back (only as far as is comfortable without forcing or straining)
Then exhale rapidly as you return your hands and arms to the starting position and reverse the position of the lower back so your bottom is tucked in and your back is curled
5) Hands and arms
Straighten your arms together in front of the chest
Inhale and move arms outwards to the side
Open and close your hands three times whilst maintaining your arms in the T-position and holding your breath
Then rotate the wrists three times
Return your hands and arms to the starting position whilst exhaling
6) Swing the arms
(This is said to oxygenate your lungs and blood giving power to the upper body)
Arms in the same starting position as (5) above
Swing those arms behind you in an upwards direction whilst inhaling
Then brushing the arms over the ears as they rotate down towards the starting position
POSTURE AND MUDRAS
During the class we also experimented with a variety of mudras and postures discovering the difference in the meditation experience in each one.
In particular the class compared cross legged and standing.
FINISHING A PRACTICE
It is important to finish the practice correctly. There are a variety of ways to practise GROUNDING. In this class we first imagined a sphere of light radiating out of each of us and used the power of INTENTION to focus the healing light onto the planet.
We then practised balancing ourselves and energy by focusing on five points:
Top of head
Palms of each of the hands (upturned)
Soles of the feet
Then we focused our attention on the notion of planting roots, like a tree, into the ground and extending imaginary branches up towards the sky. The purpose of this is twofold, to reconnect to wakefulness and to develop the capacity to bring our raised consciousness into our daily life. This can seem abstract to start with and yet it becomes easier through practice.
Author: Andy Lucas - Spring to Mind Meditation Brighton