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Art of Attention: Meditation

June 7, 2014

An excerpt from a simple and intimate perspective on meditation by goddess Elena Brower. The full article is HERE. Enjoy!

It took me 13 years of teaching asana, and over 17 years of practicing it, to finally take a seat for meditation. Until recently, if I managed to sit down to meditate, I felt the irresistible magnetism of the dishes, the inbox, laundry and the cabinet to reorganize. Nothing could make me sit still for more than a few minutes, and on the few occasions I did, I felt fake every time, as though I was missing something. Turns out I’d needed a manual to help me crack the code.

Anodea Judith’s “Eastern Body, Western Mind” is shifting my relationship to, and my navigation of, meditation practice. Given practical details about each energy center (chakra) in the body (note: the word is pronounced with “ch” like “choice,” rather than “sh” like “shall”), I’ve learned to be more specific and purposeful in the meditation seat. I’m learning to locate, in my actual physical body, the places where unresolved confusions have been stored, which activates a ready focus for my breathing when I sit — in my own time, in my own words: the ultimate empowerment. Most importantly, I’m learning to generate more listening and respect for the closest people in my life — the ones who’d become accustomed to getting the worst of me, while my students, teachers and friends got the best.

The succinct “takeaway”: a level of consistency in my sitting, and therefore my behavior. Now I can be as astute a listener with my mom as I am with a new student detailing an injury. That wasn’t always the case. I was misappropriating my compassion away from my family and only toward my students. This made for a hilarious paradox — lovely, compassionate, generous teacher with her students versus the inattentive, angry, punishing girl with her family. And when my son was turning four last fall, I saw him trying to take it on. He became like a skycap at the airport, old enough to start helping me with my proverbial baggage, and that was so scary to see. He was impatient, mad, screaming “me.” I knew I either had to handle that weight myself, or pay dearly for the service he’d try to provide for the rest of my life, taking on the problems of parents as we’ve all done.

So if you’re reading this and you don’t currently have a meditation practice, I’ll finally get to the point, and offer you an example of one of the more universal coping mechanisms I’ve encountered in myself. Then you can get a feeling for how this might map out an aspect ofyou, and get you sitting down with yourself for meditation.

Place one hand on your belly, just below your navel, breathe right there, and read on. If it’s hard for you to hold space for others when they’re getting emotional, stay with me. If you have the compulsion to fix and serve others (teachers and parents to your parents, that’s you), this will help you bring healing to the cycle of having long been depleted emotionally, and you don’t need to blame anyone. In fact, you might find yourself thanking them for placing you in that situation so you could come to this profound healing for yourself.

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