Loving your body into balance – with meditation

5 ways to give the body love:

  • Choose to workout in a way that brings you joy and a feeling of being happy and healthy inside your body (instead of trying to improve the look of the body)
  • Choose food that brings you energy and health and that tastes good.
  • Find ways to satisfy your senses, through massages, smelling roses and perfumes, wear clothes with fabrics that feels good. Anything that brings you into the present moment and you can appreciate your senses here and now. Be in nature fully present.
  • Learn to let go of negative thoughts about your body and treat it with love and care throughout the day. Have a disciplined practice of letting go of negative thinking. (It really makes all the difference!)
  • Do exercises like yoga and tai chi to balance your breath, nervous system and endocrine system. In this way it is easier to stay present and not so easily to go into stress mode.

One of the meditation techniques I use aims directly towards healing your relationship with your body and physical world. This is because one of our main negative beliefs is that there is something wrong with our body or our world. When these beliefs are healed, our relationship to our bodies and the world will change in the most uplifting ways. I used to judge my body so harshly, but when I use this technique the judgments are replaced with love and gratitude.

It is through meditation and yoga that I have learned to love my body more and let go of the destructive tendencies of the judgmental parts of the mind. If I have judgments about the body now, I know it is not true, and I have a tool that takes me out of this judgment and into the love of who I am in reality. This love has no judgment over my body.

We can start with treating our bodies in a more conscious way, in the way of knowing that we are not the body, but we are the presence that resides in the body. We are given this body as a tool to experience life and all its wonders. This presence that we are, beyond thinking and negative judgments, already loves this body unconditionally. It might be easier to love and appreciate this temple of the body, when we don’t identify with it as “me”, but still love the body and stay present within it. When we grow up we tend to forget who we are and start identifying with our thinking and our bodies, in this way we often start to focus more on what the body looks like or what is wrong with our body, instead of focusing on enjoying being in the body. Let us aim for enjoying and loving our bodies like we were kids again, and knowing that we are this conscious presence that wants to experience the joy of having a body and walking on this planet in love.

If you look at a little child dancing, you know that they are not preoccupied with how they look or with judging the body. They are only enjoying the experience of how it feels to be in a dancing body. We would be so much happier if we started to treat our bodies as innocently and loving as we did when we were children, before we learned to criticize our selves and before we were exposed by the false image of what is beautiful and what is not, through media.

In meditation you can change your relationship to thoughts, you can view the judgmental thoughts of the mind without identifying with them. When we practice this with closed eyes, it will also become easier to step out of judgments in our daily life. Meditation brings more appreciation, when we find a technique that aids us in releasing the subconscious negative beliefs that holds us back.

Meditation:

  1. You can close your eyes and settle your awareness inside your heart, allow your shoulders to drop and your breath to become calm, allow your belly to rest and be seated in a comfortable position.
  2. Now imagine the miracle that is your body, all the cells in the body that are constantly working to keep the body healthy. The cells that are fighting off viruses and bacterias. Your breath that brings oxygen into your blood and gives your cells what they need, the cells capacity to absorb what it needs and let go of what it doesn’t need. All the organs that are working to keep the body healthy, the endocrine system that are communicating to keep a balance in the body, the nervous system that connects every part of the body.
  3. Feel the gratitude within you as you smile to your body, thank your body for the job it is doing non-stop. 
  4. If resistance comes up, allow it to come up, give it space. For instance if you have been ill, we can have anger or sadness towards the body, allow emotions to emerge and allow it space.
  5. Continue to expand your awareness around your body and inside your body.
  6. Smile to your heart and let your heart smile to all of your cells in the body. Imagine all your cells vibrating with a stronger light when you give them your awareness and gratitude.

Becoming conscious and positive thinking

It seems to be a common misperception when we start searching in spiritual directions, that we should be more positive in order to be spiritual. But there is a difference between changing our way of thinking in a way of stepping out of our identification with thoughts or on the other side trying to be positive, think positive or feel positive emotions.

Through consciousness we can take a step away from our tendency to criticism and negative thinking through becoming more aware, but if we try to apply this to our emotions in a way of trying to feel positive or think positive when uncomfortable emotions emerge, this can lead to suppression of our natural emotions. Emotions are natural and a part of being human, and when we try to feel something different then what we actually do, it will only lead to suppression and a stronger tendency to be critical towards our selves.

In meditation I would treat my thoughts and emotions differently.
Thoughts can go on forever in a negative direction if we hook into them and allow our consciousness to get occupied with negative thinking about our selves and others, which again will just create more negative thinking. This is a tendency in which meditation is a great tool to step out of this negative thinking, we learn to observe the thoughts and let the thoughts just go through our awareness without thinking them and identifying with them. When we learn to observe and to stay aware, we can rather use the thinking level of the mind in a more constructive way. For instance the mind can be used as a tool to help us with new creative ideas and solutions to problems. These new ideas and solutions to our challenges, tends to come directly from the conscious place of our mind, when we allow our minds to settle into silence. Then we don’t have to think to get to the solution, the solution will come to us.

When it comes to our emotions, they act in a different way. Since most of us are taught since childhood that some emotions are good and some are bad, we have throughout our lives bottled them up inside of our body and they now reside in our subconscious. This creates both stress and tension in our bodies and minds. When we learn meditation and then start going within to become more conscious, a necessary part of going inward is to allow our emotions to emerge and be felt through our body. This process allows our body to release both the emotion and the stress related to the emotion from our bodies. If we at this point believe that painful emotions are bad and we should think more positive, this will work against the process of letting go and stop us from bringing more consciousness in where we have suppressed parts of our selves. This positive thinking can lead to further suppression of the emotions about to emerge, and we have missed the opportunity to allow these emotions to transform. If we rather allow the emotions to fully come up, they will at some point dissolve into nothingness, and we create more space within to experience more presence, peace, more energy and more love within.

Through a well-intended upbringing by our parents and society we are taught from a young age that certain emotions are acceptable and others not so accepted. All in a way of trying to make us adjusted to a society where pretty much everyone suppress our emotions to fit in. This suppression both causes a tension in our body and nervous system and it also creates a society that are based on outer values. In this society we are also more prone to addictions, if it is smart phones or alcohol depends on the individuals choices and how far we have gone in our destructive tendencies. We can use our addictions as a way of distracting us from our emotions where we don’t have to feel what is really going on inside of our selves.

If we then decide to find a way out of this and search for a solution through becoming more conscious, we can get into the idea that we need to be more positive. Some scriptures in yoga for instance talk about bliss and that our natural state is happiness. Which maybe ultimately is true, but we also have this life as humans that we live. If we think we need to be constantly blissful this could drive us further away from our path inwards, when we turn inwards we will most likely meet both suppressed anger, sadness, joy and love.

It is through accepting every parts of our selves, both emotions we see as good and bad, that we have a chance of becoming more conscious. As a side-effect of this inner allowing, we might naturally become more positive, because there is no longer any resistance within us, this can happen naturally and without any effort.

Through this inner allowing in each of us, I believe we also create a healthier society with values based on acceptance and love for our selves and others. It is only through accepting and allowing our emotions to emerge we can be free of them and allow more love to again emerge from our subconscious.

 

Samtosha – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Pada  II. Sutra 42
Samtosad  anuttamah sukha labhah
From contentment, supreme happiness is gained.

Contentment comes from a place of having peace with our selves, in this peace within, our desires come from love. When resting in this love within, our desires are naturally supportive of both our selves and of others.

It is nothing wrong with desires, the problem arises when our desires are not aligned with love. In the world now there is a lot of people following their desires out of fear, and we have created a world out of balance.

On our path of going inwards and unveiling what we have suppressed and getting familiar with how our internal thought patterns work, we can more easily recognize if our desires come from love or from a negative pattern/fear. These patterns are often unconscious and we might not even know that we are driven by fear.

We might be on a quest of attaining more wealth or more power, and these desires for more can come from a desire that is based in for instance a fear of there not being enough or a fear of losing our position. When we become aware of our subconscious fears we have a chance to make different choices, when we are not aware of these fears they tend to run our lives without us even noticing it.

If we try to be content from the level of thinking, it can in itself become a self-destructive pattern of “I shouldn’t desire this, and I shouldn’t want that…”, this can just create more stress and is certainly not aligned with our first yama which is ahimsa. What we rather could do, instead of judging our desires, is to look within and notice where they are coming from. In meditation we can recognize the feelings on a deeper level and see if our desires comes from fear or if it comes from love. It might take some time and practice to notice this as we have layers of beliefs that will dissolve in its own pace when we start looking inwards. With some desires we can more easily recognize where they stem from, and we can see clearly just by asking our selves “will this bring me and others more happiness?”

In our physical yoga practice what typically can take us out of our presence, is that we should be somewhere else with our bodies, we should be stronger or more flexible. Again, it is nothing wrong with this desire in itself, but it might come from a fear based thinking of not feeling good enough exactly as you are right now. This drive forward and pushing our selves, both in yoga and in life, can lead to injuries in yoga and illness from living a too hectic life. When we are constantly trying to be better, look better or do better, we live life in fear, we create more stress in our body and mind.

If we step behind the thinking of “we should be better or somewhere else then we are right now, in our lives, with our bodies or with our emotions”, we can start to recognize where this thinking come from. Where is the feeling sitting inside of you where you believe you should be better? From noticing and allowing emotions space within, we create room for fears to start dissolving, not by pushing them away or judging our selves for being fearful or having negative emotions (we all have them!), but by allowing it space within.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
Lao Tzu

 

Satya – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Pada II. Sutra 36
Satya pratisthayam kriya phala asrayatvam
From reversing to stability of truthfulness,
all actions quickly results in their fruits.

Satya is the second of the five observances (yama – literally deaths) to obtain through meditation and increased self-awareness.

To be completely truthful is impossible when our mind is clouded with unconscious thinking and inherited patterns that contradicts our deeper truth.
We are brought up in a society that early teaches us that we have to strive to be something other than what we are in this moment. We inherit patterns both from our parents and the tendency of our ancestors and from the society and country we live in and the world as a whole.

We are taught what is good and bad behavior, which emotions are accepted to show and feel, which ones are not, what schools is more beneficial or prestigious to attend and which jobs would be more secure or maybe give us fame and fortune.

A lot of our choices are made from ambitions and outer expectations, expectations which we internalize and make our own the older we get. We end up believing we have chosen what we wanted all the way, but we were conditioned and might have ended up in a place where we are not entirely happy. Or maybe have made the choices that feels good also on a deeper level, but still we are not quite happy as our mind has a tendency to continue to search for something else or something more.

When we go within and start releasing the thought patterns and subconscious beliefs we have inherited, we get more in touch with our true selves and with our true desires. We let go of our fear of being fully who we are and we let go of the fear of making choices from our heart.

The more we let go of these layers holding us back, the more our inner truth shines through, the more truthful we can be towards our selves, how we live our lives and how we choose to present our selves to others.

“This sutra means that we no longer undermine our thoughts, speech, desires and actions by self-contradictory and self-destructive thoughts, speech, desires and actions. Therefore, whatever we do, we receive full support from all the Laws of Nature; all desires are quickly fulfilled.”
“The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” Translation and commentary by MSI

 

“In the light of steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part”
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

Ahimsa – Patanjalis Yoga Sutras

Pada II. Sutra 35
Ahimsa pratisthayam tat samnidhau vaira tyagah
“From reversing to stability of non-violence,
all hostility is renounced in your presence
.”

letting-go

 

 

Ahimsa is for me one of the most useful guidelines to remember when practicing yoga and meditation. Both when it comes to our physical yoga practice, our meditation practice and in life in general, remembering to practice ahimsa brings more gentleness and ease.

It has been especially useful to apply this principle in my meditation and when noticing the tendency of the mind to be critical. While sitting in meditation with an intention of integrating Ahimsa, it is easier to become aware of the state of the mind that limits and criticizes and rather learn to rest in the peaceful nature of our mind.

When we stop criticizing our selves, it is easier to also view the world with more loving eyes and experience the world as a friendlier place. The mind is used to constantly evaluate every person, experience and one self. It is nothing wrong with this evaluation in it self, but it becomes challenging when we take our judgments and analyzes for truth.

In Ahimsa I experience a letting go, a surrender to something bigger, a gentleness within and an experience of humbleness, like everything in my experience becomes softer and more at ease. In letting go I have to let go of everything I believe I know and rather experience this moment and everything in it directly.

For instance in meeting with a new person or someone I already know, letting go of everything I believe about him or her, can create a whole new way of relating to an other. We become more open, more innocent and also we allow this person to be who ever he or she is in this moment. We become more alive, we are more present in the love within and there is a deeper connection with one another. We experience each other in what we are behind the thinking level of the mind. It is also from this state easier to practice forgiveness, as there is an understanding that anything hurtful said or done are coming from the places where this person is hurt.

When approaching our yoga practice in this way, we can let go of every idea about our body and our selves, staying present with the experience right now can give us a deeper experience in the yoga practice. You can explore and be curious to how each pose feels in the body? Where is your spine in space? Can you create a sense of more space and softness in the body while still staying strong? Can you accept where you are right now and stop looking for the next pose or the wish to be stronger or more flexible where you are now? What is the quality of your breath? Can you notice your minds tendency to comment on your practice?

When you approach your meditation with ahimsa, you can start noticing where your mind tends to judge. Do you try to go deeper in meditation in a way of forcing your awareness? Do you try to push away thoughts or escape emotions or uncomfortable physical sensations? Can you accept the experience as it is now and find the most easeful way of relaxing in your awareness? Can you accept everything or maybe the nothingness that goes on in your awareness right now? Can you notice if there are any judgments and realize you are not the thoughts? Can you accept the judgments going through you without hooking in to them, without believing them, without thinking them? Can you notice the space between you as awareness and everything that goes through your awareness? Can you put more focus in your awareness without pushing any movement away, just with bringing in more presence?

In our daily life, a way of practicing ahimsa, can be by noticing where we are being negative towards our selves or others. With becoming more conscious of this we can start creating a different choice. Every time we choose to appreciate or be grateful towards an experience, an other person or towards our selves, we train our mind and emotions to become more positive. Also the simple letting go of negative thinking, is enough to create more space within to let go of any negative emotion attached to it, in this letting go the experience of life most likely will change.

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
Oprah Winfrey

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

I find “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” to be one of the most inspiring books to dive deeper into meditation, and I love Maharishi Sadasiva Isham’s translation.

“Atha yoga anusasanam” he translates to “Now, the Teaching of Yoga”.
MSI beautifully describes his interpretation of this Sutra:
“Therefore the Science of Yoga begins and ends in the present moment. Everything to be understood about the transformation of life from suffering to permanent happiness, from failure to success, from ignorance to enlightenment is to be found in the present instant of time.”

The most effective way to find and stay in the present moment I know of, is through meditation. In meditation we can learn both to be present here and now, in what we are experiencing in our lives, in a way of bringing our awareness to what is in front of us now – instead of worrying about tomorrow or being caught in the actions of our past. Another benefit of meditation, which I also deeply appreciate, is to get in touch with and experience the still presence within – this inner experience is beautiful. Since most of us are used to thinking and letting our thoughts cloud our perception of this presence, we more often need tools to get us out of our heads and into our presence. This is where meditation can bring us back here and now.

Several studies have now shown that meditation, amongst other benefits, is reducing the stress levels of the body, lowering the blood pressure, balancing the hormones and even increasing the grey matter of the brain: www.washingtonpost.com

eckhart

Muladhara – balancing the first Chakra

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest of wilderness”
John Muir

Do you ever feel too much “in the head”, stressed out or ungrounded.

The quickest way to unwind and release stress I’ve found is spending time in nature or in meditation or even better – both at the same time. Spending time in nature balances our whole body and refills our energies. Nature helps us both in letting go of negativity and filling up on positive energy. The same goes for meditation, when we learn to rest in the silent place within, we recharge, let go and fill up with positivity.

In my book “Be the Alchemist of Your Life” I share different ways to connect and strengthen your first chakra – Muladhara. This chakra is designed to keep us grounded, connected and have a security in getting our basic needs met:

“The ruby can give us an awareness of others’ feelings and strengthens our compassionate nature. This gemstone can balance a driven and ambitious individual to honor the body and align the will and goals of his or her higher self.

The masculine, warrior side of us learns to honor the earth and the divine feminine and realizes that this side needs nurturing and love, so it will align the forceful creative side with an inner state of love and then create in accordance to the heart, instead of from brute force. If you have a strong ambitious side that is driven by a strong force forward, the ruby can aid you in aligning your will with your heart and higher self so you stay with your creations in accordance to your highest will.

When aligning with the ruby’s highest powers, we can connect with our inner healer, which is deeply compassionate and devoted to spirituality, while still being part of the material world.”

“Muladhara, the base chakra, is also referred to as the survival chakra. When this chakra is properly developed, we feel safe in the world. We feel supported on the physical plane and confident in getting our basic needs met.

Confidence, trust, feeling safe, being grounded and at one with life, tending to our basic needs, and taking good care of our bodies are all qualities that support us in keeping the first chakra balanced.”

“Be the Alchemist of Your Life”
BeTheAlchemistOfYourLife

 

Emerson