My personal practice: How do I love thee, let me count the ways …

Given that meditation is the weakest part of my practice and always has been, its funny that my personal practice began with meditation.

There was always something exotic to me about meditation and especially the props and accessories one can utilize to draw oneself deeper.  I’m embarrassed to say that I’m shallow enough that it was the “bling” that drew me to begin meditating at home – I found a book on chakra meditation that suggested a mala (rose quartz?  sandalwood?  both?) and candles.  I spent more time and energy picking out the right combination of candles and setting up my first little meditation corner at home than I did meditating!!

As I learned the Sivananda series better (and my daughter moved out) I took over the “Florida room” for my home practice and expanded what I did.  There were mornings that I would do the entire Sivananda class and a bit of meditation and breath work, then as I got burned out on the series, I would just pick out my favorite poses or what I thought I needed that morning.  Eventually, and especially after spending a week at the Sivananda Center in upstate New York, my home practice evolved and deepened.  While my Florida Room did not face the east, I enjoyed practicing in the very early morning hours where I could feel the sunrise at my back and watch it slowly light up my house.  The animals were quiet and calm.

At its peak I would practice at home for 60-90 minutes each morning and I had a routine of breathing, meditation, asana and yoga nidra that I felt eased me gently into the world each morning.

When my path moved to Vinyasa, my home practice got a little more confused, but I took teacher training within a short period of time of switching styles and my training became my focus.  There was always a project, breathing or asana to be practiced, sequencing to learn – between training and taking the requisite classes at the studio, my home practice became one of necessity and practicality.

For the first year or so of teaching the sequencing of each week’s class would become my weekly home practice.  First I would sequence, then send to Angel (who showed infinite patience) for suggestions/corrections, then practice the class until I knew it by heart.  It was also about this time, 2009 or so, that I began to have the first symptoms  of the arthritis in my neck and my home practice began to shift into a therapeutic/anatomical focus.

Since I began experiencing physical challenges my home practice has really waxed and waned, becoming mostly physical until this year two things happened:  I had back surgery and was gifted with a bronze singing bowl.  After my back surgery I expected to be back at practice in a few weeks but in truth, two weeks after surgery I was challenged by sitting against a wall and bringing my legs into tree and butterfly shapes.  Physical therapy movements have merged with yoga movements.  I began to re-discover yoga nidra.   It was lovely, like dipping into a warm salt water pool.  When I’m lucky, I even feel like I’m floating during yoga nidra!

My personal practice has reflected the weird changes to my physicality as well as the mental challenges of dealing with two chronic pain conditions (although its really one chronic pain conditions in two different places – that sounds better!) the healing sounds of brass and crystal bowls entered my life.  Angel began incorporating crystal healing bowls into some of the gentle practices until she found a home for her bowls with the Yin class Tuesday afternoons at 4.  At first, I found a lot of the tone discordant and would literally feel my ears ringing.  As my body has healed the bowls and I have become friendlier and friendlier.  My husband’s gift of a brass bowl has brought me much joy as I’ve learned to play it.  They’ll be more blogs on the bowl.  For the purpose of this blog, it is impossible for me not to associate meditation with playing the bowl.  The vibrations move throughout my body – supporting hand, arm, speeding up my heartbeat and bringing warmth to my chest – and bring me towards a meditative state partially because of the amount of focus I place on the bowl.  When I stop playing, and those last few vibrations release into the universe, I can’t help but sit and be.  Not always for long periods of time.  But the bowl has brought my personal practice back to a full circle – with a focus on meditation, thanks to the work with the bowl.

Now that I feel like I’ve gone full circle with my home practice does that mean I’ll be giving it up?  That’ I’ve learned all there is for me to learn?  Not at all.  One path may be well traveled and looped back around, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be stepping onto a new path tomorrow.