Settling Meditation to Get Out of Your Head
We spend a LOT of time in our heads.
A few weeks ago, I taught a lunchtime class to my private corporate group of yogis (who I LOVE…they have learned so much and are so inquisitive). I asked how everyone was feeling, and one of the students said, “I feel….weird….off.” I said, “Oh. Weird how?” and she said, “Up here,” (gesturing around her head) “in my mind.” Then on the heels of that, another student asked about techniques I would recommend for meditation.
So I told them three things:
1) Headspace app – easy and seems to get good feedback…my other corporate group uses it
(2) It’s good to NOT need any sort of guided meditation app because then you can do it whenever you need to without getting distracted and waste your time fiddling with technology…just sit and watch your breath
(3) That being said, Michael Stone’s “Awake in the World” podcast is excellent. Lots of wonderful free guided meditations there, as well as talks to further and deepen your understanding of sitting and of living.
I had just listened to one of these podcasts on my drive over the hill from dropping my daughter off, which was kind of crazy. Lots of traffic and coordination and timing things just right.
As I listened to Michael’s words, I went from feeling fairly disconnected, caught up in the whirlwind of tasks, to being completely relaxed, at ease, and unified.
So I arrived in this state to teach the class.
Teaching yoga can sometimes be a struggle. Sometimes it feels intricate and complex. Sometimes I judge my teaching skills and wonder if my students are enjoying the class. Sometimes, I’m thinking ahead in the sequence.
But more often these days (after about 7 years of doing it), teaching can feel very easy. Effortless. This day was like that. When I can get out of my own way and CONNECT, my teaching FEELS connected, like I’m in the flow with the students. Not that I think I’m such an awesome teacher. Rather, my feeling as I was teaching was like this: “this is such a simple practice and we are going to work with it, and I know your bodies and your tendencies, and it will be fun and easy and light, and we will have moments of challenge where we find the breath and it will help us through.”
Because I was able to get out of my head and into my breath and body, I showed up more able to serve my students.
Many times, in the middle of our busy days, it’s necessary to get out of the head and a little away from thoughts and thinking. Michael’s approach is very much like this, using the breath to actually feel the body and get more present with ourselves. How would YOU be able to show up for others, if you were more settled and connected?
Here is the meditation that I guided the group through to start the yoga practice, with the intention of settling the energy and getting more into the experience of being in the body.
Settling Meditation to Get Out of Your Head
Move the energy DOWN out of your head and into your body with this short meditation (under 5 minutes). Awaken feeling more settled and less anxious and scattered. Listen to the guided version, or read the meditation below. Enjoy!
Find a seat where you can relax, and rest your hands on your thighs. Let your eyes close, or lower to almost closing, so you have just a sliver of your gaze open, and soften your eyes. Bring your attention to the feeling of the breath in your body.
Start by feeling the breath just at the base of your nostrils. Feel the inhale and feel the exhale. Then let the breath drop down a little, so your experience of the breath is more in your chest. Expand the collarbones wide as you inhale, and then let the body relax as you exhale.
Then move the breath down a little into the ribs. Watch the ribs expand out from side to side and front to back as you breathe. Move the breath down further into the belly, and feel your breath moving just behind your navel as you breathe in and out.
Now with your next breath out, release your jaw and soften the features of your face. Lift the corners of the mouth just slightly and feel the back of your tongue relax a little. Soften your throat and let any unsaid words that you might be holding, let them go. Let your shoulders relax down and let go of any holding up your doing, just let go as best you can. And then let go of any holding on, any holding it together that you are hanging onto in the belly. Let your pelvis be heavy and keep moving the breath down. Feel your energy settle.
Now bring your focus to the end of your exhale, and see if you can linger there at the end of your exhale, watching all the breath move out. Then watch naturally as your inhale bounces up from the pause at the end of your exhale. Keep coming back to the space at the end of each exhale as you breathe, and with every breath out, see if there is any tiny thing you can let go of, any gripping that you can loosen, any little bit of sweetness you can bring to the letting go.
Take 5 more breaths here, noticing the end of the exhale, feeling the breath in the belly, and letting go a little bit.
When you’re ready, gently open your eyes and check in with your energy and your thoughts.
Throughout the rest of your day, if you feel anxious or that your mental chatter is exceptionally busy, try this breathwork again to drop the attention out of the head and into the body so you can work with the softening and letting go and settling.
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