Intention: to work on creating a better muscular tension baseline for optimal living
Setting: listening to Tara Brach body scan on Insight Timer, seated, at home
I found it pretty easy to maintain focus on the instructions in this body scan today, and found it to be an enjoyable experience today. I did spend some time absent from the instructions and deliberately focussed on thoughts – specifically, whether I had been underestimating the physical relaxation component of meditation, seeing it as a luxurious possible by-product of meditation, rather than an essential skill to develop. It was pretty gratifying to give myself this time in meditation to consider that – I often end up in trains of thought and admonishing myself for getting lost in them, but having the space in my practice to actually consider my thoughts, follow them through, and have some further insight into myself has been incredibly valuable and I look forward to exploring this further in my practice.
Another thing that I have noticed, in line with muscular tension, is that I usually have a lot of tension in my facial muscles, especially at the start of a sit, but it constantly creeps back in and I need to keep reminding myself to bring softness to that. I wonder how much of my life I spend this way – it surely just can’t occur when I meditate? Perhaps this should be a mindful action for me to consider incorporating into my day.
Intention – focus on some of the learnings from Eric Harrison’s The Foundations of Mindfulness, particularly around body awareness and establishing a lower baseline for muscular activation
Setting: yin yoga class, group setting, 1 hour
I’ve been quite taken with The Foundations of Mindfulness and what I’ve been learning about the relationship between muscular activation in the body and anxiety. His explanation of how maladaptive anxiety manifests in the mind and body has been quite eye opening for me, and I would like to explore more around how to reduce my baseline in order to create a more optimal state from which to approach life.
Yin yoga has always been deeply meditative for me, and a real challenge in terms of sitting with discomfort for extended periods of time. I took some time to be curious about the quality of the sensations generated by the different asanas, and which sensations I struggled to come to with ease (the pinchy ones!). One particular pose, Dragon, always gives me a lot of trouble, and I experienced quite a lot of tension during this time. I tried really hard to stick with it … I did … but I got distracted mainly by what would be in my course outline for this course!
Maybe sitting with discomfort should be in my course outline.
Intention (at beginning) – to spend 10 minutes just to ‘see what happens’ when I sit without a specific purpose.
Setting: sitting (cushion), ambient music playing in background, natural lighting, timed
The thing that immediately comes to mind is that I noticed that when I focus on thoughts, and follow a train of thought, I start holding my breath. I had never seen that before. I know I hold my breath in life, probably in the same situations, but I didn’t know that I did it in meditation too. And, just like in life, it made me quite anxious, and need to return to the breathing in a intentional way. I had always thought that, if I was getting anxious in meditation, it was because of what I was thinking. Now I wonder if it’s because of this holding the breath – no wonder breathing helps when I’m anxious!!
The 10 minutes did not seem to take very long – such a contrast to when I started meditation and 5 minutes on the cushion seemed like an eternity. It was nice to feel that, like the 10 minutes I was investing was eminently manageable for me.
Most of this meditation was focussed on thought, really more in the observer role just to see where it went. Nothing too interesting today, just general themes about work, areas of self development – things I spend a lot of time thinking about. No revelations today!