Week 1: Science, Magic and Beauty.... and learning how to sit
by Adrienne Alane White
I’ve completed almost 1000 hours of training since I’ve gone on this journey of becoming a yoga teacher. So does it seem a little crazy to fly thousands of miles to do yet another 300 hour certification? I came back to Bali for a couple of reasons. First, I love this group of teachers and yogis at Zuna Yoga! The philosophy is amazing; think personal responsibility, becoming the best version of yourself, the science of beauty, and CHOOSING happiness every single day. I also came to immerse myself in the study of meditation. Three hundred hours of study in one month’s time, to be exact. Time to get comfortable with discomfort, right?
What could be more uncomfortable, literally and figuratively, than sitting for hours on end and waiting for all of your demons and monsters to come rising to the surface so you can face (and maybe become friends with) them? Only that’s not the way things are done around here. This is a group dedicated to the art and science of beauty and living beautifully. So it makes perfect sense that the first thing we would do is find our “comfortable seat”. We need to be able to lose the body so we can quiet the mind, and that requires a place you can sit comfortably for long periods of time, This journey will take patience after all, as our teacher, Everett Newell explained: you need to sit before you can crawl, then eventually stand on our shaky meditation legs to walk, and then ultimately fly. Magic carpet ride through the universe of meditation, anyone?
Once we had our seats set, we needed to learn the vehicle in which we would take our journey to the stars. Like a teenager who just gets their driving permit, we needed to be patient and practice to get used to being in the drivers’ seat of our meditation. We are using a very special vehicle to take us on this ride, and it is breath, breath, breath, breath, breath, breath, breath, breath. The Tantrics certainly didn’t believe in meditating on nothing. Instead ,the idea is to point your mind at something beautiful, something to ground you as you expand your awareness to know the truth of everything. And so we root ourselves in the beauty of masterful breath. After all, your life giving breath is the best friend you will ever have. It’s with you from your very first to your very last moment here on earth. It is something to be savored, something to be slowly expanded, as it will expand you into the outer limits of pure consciousnesses.
As we sit in the yoga shala for our sunrise practices, surrounded by the mysterious sounds of the jungle, we take our time, learning to be patient with our breath. This is a most gentle, beautiful, and elegant expression of breath so we can find those same attributes within our meditations and also within ourselves. This is learning to be the very best version of yourself, starting with mastery of breath. Ultimately it’s about understanding that your best self has been with you all along; you just needed to sit still, get quiet and remember. This is the work that heals us so we are more kind, loving, and accepting of ourselves, so that we may offer this gift to others. In my opinion, this is how we save the world. Taking responsibility for our own selves, our own happiness, so we can stop blaming others for our lack of those things. It’s also a reminder to stay in the space of our beauty and consciously choose not to participate in things that don’t serve us or support our beauty. Why would we want to live anything less than a beautiful life?
The amazing thing is that science is catching up with all of this ancient wisdom and practice, and we are learning about how this is absolutely as much a scientific process as a mystical one. It has absolutely been proven that meditation changes your physiology, which means that you can use it to promote greater health and to heal yourself when you connect breath body and mind. The only side effects are better relationships, less illness and disease, and a more consciously lived life. Pretty awesome medicine.
Speaking of medicine, how does less anxiety, irritability, and negative moods sound to you? All are improved with regular meditation. How about a healthier heart, less inflammation, better digestion, and more balanced hormones? These are all things that improve with the reduction of stress and the increase in breath through this meditation technique. It also helps to regulate the vagus nerve. This little known nerve has great influence in the body. It affects heart, lungs, organs, and digestive tract, all independently of the spinal cord, and guess what makes it operate optimally? Smooth, even, rhythmic breath. Exactly what we do in our meditations! There are other ways to positively affect the vagus nerve, one being exposure to cold. So what better way to spend our day off than to visit a natural cold plunge spring and spend some time meditating there? With all the benefits that are proven from meditation, a day off from training doesn’t mean we wanted a day off from meditating!
So many people say they can’t meditate; I can’t sit still, don’t have time, too stressed, the list goes on and on… I say they can’t afford not to. I’m thinking maybe they just haven’t found their comfortable seat yet. With this comfortable seat, some patience and compassion, this method is doable for anyone. We are here in Bali learning exactly how to share that, so everyone, with a little patience, can learn how to sit so they can fly!
Follow Adrienne's journey at Zuna Yoga's 300 hour Meditation and Yoga Nidra Teacher Training in Bali! We'll be sharing a new blog each week.