Mantram CD by Rajesh David

We have been listening to the wonderful music and chanting of artist Rajesh David at the beginning of our sessions this term. The CD (titled ‘Mantram’) is available from his website here and contains several mantras set to haunting melodies which are ideal for relaxation and meditation. All of the tunes are famous mantra chants. The one of particular interest to us has been the Gayatri which we have listened to a variety of versions this year.

The Gayatri chant is from the Rig Veda  one of the oldest known written works.  It has been sung from the very beginnings of time.  Why not join in and hum or sing along?  It has a calming and uplifting effect and once you know it you can do it anywhere. There are many benefits to chanting the Gayatri including helping you breathe more slowly, stimulating the subtle energy centres in the body and improving concentration. For 10 benefits of chanting the Gayatri see this site

There are many translations, here is one by Deva Premal:

Om bhur bhuvah svah

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

 MEANING:-

Through the coming, going, and the balance of life

The essential nature illuminating existence is the adorable one

May all perceive through subtle intellect

The brilliance of enlightenment

Understanding Your Own Breath

Sitting still and simply observing your own breath or working with a Pranayama (Ujjayi, abdominal breathing, 3 part breath etc) are all calming exercises that will help you to get to know your own breath. Simple practices such as these help to relax us – body and mind –  a relaxed body breathes better; a relaxed mind thinks clearer.

I’d like to share with you ‘Natural Breathing’  a preliminary practice taken from Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. This exercise follows the ‘journey of the breath’ and gives us an excellent focus for a 10 minute meditation. You could easily record it onto your phone and then listen to it whenever you wish. Besides calming the mind and the breath, this practice helps us to learn the mechanics of the breathing process.

Remember the words of Tich Nhat Hanh

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

― Thich Nhat HanhStepping into Freedom: Rules of Monastic Practice for Novices

 

Natural Breathing – The Journey of the Breath

Sit in a comfortable meditation posture or lie in shavasana.

Relax the whole body.

Observe the natural and spontaneous breathing process.

Develop total awareness of the rhythmic flow of the breath.

Feel the breath flowing in and out of the nose.

Do not control the breath in any way.

Notice that the breath is cool as it enters the nostrils and warm as it flows out.

Observe this with the attitude of detached witness.

Feel the breath flowing in and out at the back of the mouth above the throat.

Bring the awareness down to the region of the throat and feel the breath flowing in the throat.

Bring the awareness down to the region of the chest and feel the breath flowing in the trachea and bronchial tubes.

Next feel the breath flowing in the lungs.

Be aware of the lungs expanding and relaxing.

Shift the awareness down to the abdomen. Feel the abdomen move upward on inhalation and downward on exhalation.

Finally, become aware of the whole breathing process from the nostrils to the abdomen and continue observing it for some time.

Bring the awareness back to observing the physical body as one unit and open the eyes.

 

Our day with Buddha Maitreya

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One Saturday in the summer a group of us went up to the Purelands Meditation gardens and spent a wonderful day with Buddha Maitreya a Buddhist Monk of great experience. He spoke gently and kindly to us all, seeking to know what we did in the world and proceeded to explain that all we needed to meditate and be happy was here with us – there was nothing to learn, no goal, no achievement but simply to be here now and relax.

I have visited Buddhist Monks before and been led in meditation, but none had got to such a point. It seemed with the other practices that there was actually very much to learn (recitations going on for hours). But with Maitreya the words and the way in which he showed us to hold our hands and arms was so simple and effective that I truly believed I did have all that was necessary to relax into the moment.

“Meditation is not trying to stop thinking. It is the moment of quiet appreciation of the inner truth”

For more information about the Purlands garden and events see their website here

Summer Trip to Pureland Meditation Garden

pureland
6th August 2016
SUMMER TRIP TO PURELANDS
Japanese Garden  Meditation Day
Near Newark
10 .30 – 4.30


Lunch & Afternoon Tea Included
Join us to learn the simple approach to inner peace and self-realisation with meditation master Buddha Maitreya. Beginners welcome for a relaxing and enlightening day.
Take your own transport and meet at the garden. I will book us in and let you know the payment details.

Yoga For Your Face

eye exercises

In the Stretch and Relax classes this term we’ll have some time dedicated to our faces…. working with the muscles around the eyes, mouth and neck yoga can be used to literally give yourself a ‘facelift’.  By toning the muscles of the face and giving them a ‘workout’ we improve the contours underneath the skin which can help to reduce fine lines and sagging. The circulation of blood and oxygen is improved and toxins are removed; giving a healthy glow to your skin. Don’t underestimate the power of our relaxations on your face too – 15 minutes of deep relaxation is said to be as valuable as 4 hours of sleep… and they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!

We will of course be working around the whole body with exercises some old favourites (Trikonasana) and some new poses (Dwikonasana) to give you a complete practice ending with a deep relaxation.

These classes take place

Monday Tinwell 7.15 – 8.15

Tuesday Preston 8 – 9

Wednesday Ryhall 6 – 7

The term runs from Juse 6th to July 22nd and the cost is £42. If you would like to sign up for this course please do get in touch asap and I can let you know the availability.

Patanjali’s Sutras Chapter 1 Verse 3

clear water

“When the mind is silent and at peace, the true self is revealed. The connection to the soul can be made. It is like a pool of still water, with no ripples or waves, the water becomes crystal clear.”

This version of Patanjali’s Sutras is interpreted by Michelle Corrigan and is called Your Quest for a spiritual life. I think it is one of the best interpretations for our time, copies are available on Amazon.

A Beautiful Summer-time Practice

clouds

AKASA – is Sanskrit meaning space – a wide, free, open space. We can use it to describe the ether, sky or the atmosphere.

When a sunny day arrives, enjoy it and make the most of it… lie on your back out in the open air, gaze up at the sky.  Allow your mind to wander and the eyes to soften. Let the breath be slow and smooth. Feel as though you are connecting with both the whole world around you and your soul within. It is an opportunity to let go of the feeling of isolation;- let go of the feeling of being an individual and join in with the flow of the universal cosmos.

Relax and Refresh – a one minute wonder…

Portrait of pretty young woman doing yoga exercise on mat

Sit up tall, place both feet evenly on the floor and, if you’re sitting press down a little to feel yourself connected to the earth. Breath in and out through the nose.  Imagine that you are filling your lungs from the bottom up – like pouring water into a bucket.  Breath right up into your throat and then out again.  Don’t go too mad or you will get all dizzy – simply take 4 or 5 full breaths and then smile.

Fairy Lights Meditation

fairy lights

If you find yourself with a few quiet minutes over the holidays – don’t just get on with more food prep, washing up or tidying up. Take advantage of a few precious moments – settle yourself with a wonderful vision of your fairy lights, soften your focus and allow yourself time to truly connect with your world…

Sit comfortably upright, softly focus on your fairy lights, allow the breath to be free and easy.

See the lights as individual souls – friends, family, colleagues – collected on a thread, woven through your life.

Consider each as individuals, individual lights that shine out brightly or softly.

Consider what happens when 2 lights meet. Is the light brighter or the same?

With fairy lights, we all know there is a problem… when one bulb goes they all go. Is there an effect like this within your thread of souls?

Widen your gaze to see the whole set of lights on the tree or where they are supported, your whole life glinting and glistening, a woven thread of bright little souls…

All the lights coming together to make one light.

 

“There is a Knower who experiences everything.

There is a Presence dancing everywhere.

There is a Lover who embraces us all.

I am one with that Light.

I am one with that Power.

I am one with that Love.”

 

Rest in this peace.

Approach your family and friends with this peace in your heart. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

Quotation from The Radiance Sutras, Lorin Roche

5 Reasons To Have A Bath Today

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The much maligned bath has a lot going for it – far from being an outdated element of our bathrooms, we should be bringing them back and giving them pride of place once again. WHY?  you ask – well, grab your towel, turn the taps on and read these 5 reasons while you wait for the tub to fill up…

1 The warmth of the water relaxes tight muscles, releasing tension in the back and the neck or around an injury or strain.

2 The addition of bath salts, creates a sea-like solution.  The salt content of the sea has many therapeutic benefits due to the natural process of osmosis (where a fluid will flow from the least dense to the most dense). Salt water can reduce swelling, reduce muscular pain, reduce rheumatic symptoms and is a great all round, general anti-inflammatory.

3 The warmth of the water opens pores and cleanses the skin – ridding it of a build up of dirt and dead skin cells.

4 Dim lighting or candle light can enhance the experience – making it feel womb like. ‘Shutting off’ the senses in this way – escaping from the world can be helpful to calm the nerves and bring peace to a mind that is overwrought.

5 Fragrance too will help the overall experience – fragrances such as Clary-Sage, Jasmine, Rose and Grapefruit all stimulate the sense of smell and brain giving an uplifting and pain relieving effect.

 

So the bath is ready, a few drops of your favourite fragrance, candles lit and away you go…. ENJOY!