“Be soft in your practice. Think of it as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go on its way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the groves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you,” Sheng Yen.
As I began my seat in meditation today I was very connected with the sound and texture of my breath. It was an easy transition as I had just completed sunrise salutations. But then I remembered I was not meditating alone.
While in an asana class your neighbors may appreciate hearing a deep, focused, smooth breath as a reminder themselves to breathe and slow their movement down, this is not always the case in meditation.
Someone else's breath can instead be a distraction, prevent us from withdrawing our senses, even make us self conscious about our own breath.
So, instead I imagined a water snake coiled up on the sand just before the waving water. I inhaled and watched the snake uncoil. I exhaled and let the snake slip into the water. I inhaled and the snake lengthened, stretching through the water, I exhaled and saw the snake soften into the current. This pattern I repeated, reminding myself how hard water snakes were to see or notice. I willed my breath to be that snake.
It soon worked. The Hahm of my exhale was about releasing, letting go, being in the moment of relaxed meditation. The Sah of my inhale was the reminder to not sleep, to be mindful of my practice. The quietness of both kept me still and calm.
The outward remembrance that I was not alone led me to a deeper awareness. What a wonderful demonstration of giving and receiving!
Tamara Millken began practicing yoga in 2003, and teaching in 2007. She trained and is 500 hour certified through the Shambhava School of Yoga. She currently teaches Yoga for Healing, Tibetan Heart Yoga, and meditation at the Mellow Monkey Yoga Studio and the Millwood Community Center.