Have you ever felt like some of the things you hear in yoga class seem too lofty or otherworldly to be practical in your daily life? I know I have. There have been times when I thought that the only way I could benefit from meditation was if I sat in a cave in the Himalayas for years on end. That certainly isn’t going to happen!
So how do we take the essence of what we experience in yoga class and apply it to our daily lives in a practical way, with realistic expectations? Welcome to Practical Om.
Practical Om is my way of delivering relevant yoga and coaching tools to you in ways that are easy to integrate into your daily life.
For this week’s Practical Om I want to share my key takeaways from a Washington Post article: Learn How Meditation Changes Your Brain.
This article really resonated with me because it reminded me of my own experience with starting yoga and wanting to fully understand why it was affecting me differently than other types of exercise I had practiced.
Here’s what hit home for me – Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said about her initial experience practicing yoga… “The yoga teacher made all sorts of claims, that yoga would increase your compassion and open your heart. And I’d think, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m here to stretch.’ But I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and open-hearted, and able to see things from others’ points of view.”
Bingo! I hear you Sara. At first, I thought all of the open-hearted, purple unicorn “woo woo” was just that – woo-woo. I started taking yoga classes to stretch and relax a little. The initial yoga classes I took had very little time for meditation or reflection and what time the teacher did introduce made me feel like my brain was on fire. I had zero motivation to meditate.
But then I started to notice the same things Sara did and I became very curious about why these benefits were seeping into my life when I wasn’t in yoga class. That curiosity led me to take a yoga teacher training program, not because I wanted to teach yoga at the time, but because I wanted to understand what was behind the shift in perspective that I was experiencing.
Then the kiss of death came as I repeatedly heard that all of the yoga postures were designed to help the practitioner sit in meditation. Ugh! Apparently, the skill of concentrating your mind while being still was truly where the “pot of gold” rested. No fair I thought! I only started yoga to stretch and relax. Now all of these teachers were saying that I had to sit still and spend time doing nothing at all. Crazy! After all, I didn’t want to be enlightened, I just wanted a more fulfilling life.
Fast forward nine years later and now I want to deliver meditation to you in a way that doesn’t make it seem so miserable. Yoga and personal development offer key tools, including meditation, that can propel your life forward. You simply need a formula for using these tools in a way that will make them the most effective for you and your personal situation.
I would love to get your comments on this article and your own experience, or lack thereof, with meditation. What are your pre-conceptions of meditation and what keeps you from trying it regularly? Are you interested in the science behind how meditation changes your brain?
Simply enter your comment below and I’ll get back to you with any insights I can share.