If super cool stuff happened every time we meditated, we’d do it more often.   The little zings of energy, the alternating feelings of lightness and heaviness, the occasional visitor, our moments of clarity … If we knew that something momentous was going to happen during our meditation instead of fidgeting, itching, trying to settle in, checking to see how much time has passed, trying to focus again, starting your mental grocery list, inhaling and exhaling, finding a dustball on the floor that has to be picked up right this second – yeah, we’d like it more if it was all pretty lights and clarity.

While I try to meditate regularly for stress relief, peace of mind and pain relief, its hard.  

Sometimes it takes something to help us in.  Playing my crystal bowl or the right practice before meditation can really help  As my practice has evolved into a more introspective practice, I’ve had more moments of meditation that really really make me excited to do more!

The studio I teach at and attend as a student has A LOT of different classes at different times of the day.  No one-size-fits-all approach at Bindu Yoga Studio.  I attended a Yin class recently that concluded with crystal bowl savasana/meditation.  The Yin practice itself focused on the spine which is of course a particular interest and necessity for me.  I was able to sink very deeply into the practice.  A couple of times I had to leave a position before the teacher suggested that we do, but I was able to do it quietly, without being frustrated but rather, accepting that this was my practice that day.

When we got to the end and settled ourselves down for savasana the teacher gave a few verbal cues.  I don’t know if it was working the spine, my acceptance of my practice that day, the fact that it was cloudy, dark and just approaching twilight (a beautiful time in the studio) or if the planets were “just” aligned, but I was able to immediately sink into an uncharacteristically deep meditation.

That’s when the magic started.  

From moving down to my mat, I had the image of the teaching platform with the two tables flanking it, where the crystal caves reside.  The crystal caves are lit by a spotlight each and just glow, especially in dim lighting. Flat on my back with my eyes closed it was dim but not dark and the sound of the bowls was affecting the places in my body that need some healing.  The crystal caves were glowing in my mind’s eye beautifully, warmly, comforting me.  As the teacher worked her bowls (this teacher has a lot of experience and plays several bowls at once) I noticed more light, coming from the teaching platform.  While it may not have surprised me to find my teacher glowing a bit, maybe her aura, maybe just leftover light from the caves, it wasn’t just her.  The caves glowed in the dim light that my brain had brought into savasana, but from the center of the platform there was a glow that was changing, seemingly along to the bowls.  Not a rhythm per se, it wasn’t a music video, but the glow would expand and recede, grow brighter and dimmer, as the sounds from the bowls changed.  The sounds themselves moved together, separated, moved together again and the sound would shift.  As those sounds worked through my brain, down the chakras and into my body the lights would shift as well.  

But that’s not all.  My body was very light, it felt almost as though I was floating a few inches off the floor.  Comfortable, not scary at all.  I found the arthritic area in my neck into the shoulder and down the arm were very affected but that didn’t bother me or pull me away from the meditation.  

Just when I really was getting into the lightness and wanted to see how high I could fly, the bowls shifted again and my arms grew heavy, drawing me back into the ground and making my body very heavy.  This made me a little sad, I was enjoying where I was.  But I was very heavy.  I was making that imprint on the ground that we teachers talk about.  I felt a shift in the energy again and the arthritis in my low back started getting “healed”.  OK it hurt (it also turned out it rained about an hour later) but the sensation in that hip was not pain.  I don’t know what it was.  My body grew heavier and heavier until it felt almost like I couldn’t even lift or move my arms when I grew lighter, again, starting at the arms.  

The lights would glow and recede, a couple of times the light at the center (between the caves) receded completely.  There was a time when the center light seemed to take the shape of a lighthouse and I could see the light streaming out, similar to light streaming out of a lighthouse on a dark night.  Was this an association my brain made because it was about to storm outside, or was this just the bowls and my teacher’s energy reaching out to me?  I don’t know, but it was pretty cool.

I was able to stay in for the entirety of the savasana which, as far as I’m concerned, either lasted 5 seconds or 5 hours.  When the bowls stopped playing the lights did not completely go away; as I lay there breathing the scene shifted and I was just clear and calm.  The physical sensations did stop, although I was certainly still feeling loose and relaxed.  The peace and calm have stayed with me.  As always happens when I have a great meditation, I feel excited, happy and most of all just good.

Often at the end of class I close with an inventory of the body, breath and mind.  Then I suggest that if you are noticing a difference between when you walked in and the end of class, that the peace and calm are always within you, we just have to look.  I know this to be true about my meditation practice as well.  Its there.  I can have good meditation.  I just have to take the time to settle in and look for it.  Practice and all is coming.  Even teachers have to remember that from time to time.  

Five Reasons why I keep coming to Yoga:

Why do I keep coming to yoga?  Before it was my vocation it was my avocation and I’ve been blessed to have the ability to make that shift.  There are days I walk into the studio not feeling myself for one reason or another and after teaching or taking a class, I feel an excellent shift in my energy, physical self and mental well-being.

Before Bindu Yoga Studio ( I practiced Sivananda for years, before that Bikram and hatha yoga. So a decade or so into my own personal practice my passion for yoga burns very bright although my focus has shifted. Here are ten reasons why I still love yoga and keep coming back:

1. Yoga makes me feel good: No matter what I walk into the classroom with, something usually improves physically during my practice and if it doesn’t, than a mental shift does.  I’ve never left a class feeling worse, both mentally and physically, than when I stepped into the classroom.  After spending the last two years battling physical injuries I finally feel like there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I ended up doing more yoga than physical therapy after my back surgery and feel like I am getting stronger every day.  Practicing vinyasa yoga gave me a rush of energy and eagerness to learn more and more.  Advanced poses, arm balances and other stretches were my goals …. until I couldn’t move my left shoulder and neck and there were days when just lifting my arms was a challenge.  Many acupuncture needles and neck releases later, those days are fewer and farther between so I revel in every arm movement I can make.  Same with my back – I’m nearly at my pre-surgery flexibility and I believe have surpassed my former core strength to hopefully keep that low back happy!  Yoga has been a saving grace for so many reasons, but above all, because it makes me feel good.

2. Its still practice, because I’m nowhere near perfect: And that’s not only okay, it is exactly what it should be. Since earning my Registered Yoga Teacher 200 hour designation, I’ve been diagnosed with arthritis in my neck, herniated disks in my low back, had surgery on my back and developed arthritis in my low back. Needless to say my changing physicality makes for a changing practice. I’ve always felt stronger in yoga class than in the gym. Targeted exercises in the gym for me, are a short term fix for an area that may need a little building. But in many yoga poses, particularly standing, finding the balance of strength, grace and release ends up strengthening more than the area that the pose targets.  Practice doesn’t always make perfect but it means some days my forward bend is far prettier than others.  Learning to accept yourself on a day to day basis is an important part of being a happy human being.  I find something in every class I teach or take that was an improvement upon the last time.

3. Physical Therapy/Yoga/Viniyoga: First of all, let me say that over the past few years I’ve developed a huge respect for physical therapists. They go through a lot of education and training, help people, hold our hands, prod us when we feel like the pain and weakness is going to win and they don’t make a whole lot of money. When I began attending and teaching classes at Bindu, we had a Viniyoga teacher, Emily Large, who was a breath of fresh air for me especially once my neck and I began doing battle. She made small suggestions and adjustments, strength building poses and movements and most of all, just a solid practical knowledge that got me through some painful days. As I got deeper into physical therapy for my neck and later my back, I came to realize just how many exercises and movements are related to yoga asanas and movements. I’ve been able to incorporate physical therapy movements into both my home practice and teachings.  I’ve shared class or taught students who are recovering from addictions, breast cancer, lymphedema, spinal injuries, sciatica, wrist injuries, wrist injuries and more wrist injuries.  Yoga is more than bending and stretching and balancing on your pinkie while tucking your toes into your ears (I kid, I kid – mostly) – it can help improve your physical self and rehab many injuries and diseases.

4. I’ve met wonderful people at the studio: I’ve met people who have passed through my life but been incredibly important while they were here; friends who I hope will be with me forever; people who I send a message to the Universe asking them to show up in class; students who do “turn the world on” with their smiles.  My mentor was an attendant in my wedding. A student did my (and my attendants’) hair on my (giddy) wedding morning.  Another student had suggested the venue. My pet sitter I met at a Simon Park Workshop at Bindu.  Officially, Bindu has permeated every facet of my life!  I’ve met students with wonderful stories to tell, students with stories of perseverance and injuries and surgeries and recoveries. Fellow teachers are joyful friends. Students and teachers exchange ideas, recipes, eggs and freshly grown or canned fruits.  Students who are emotionally or physically fragile can count on me for support, just as they’ve helped me through tough times with just their presence in class and relaxed smiles at the end of class.

5. Meditation means more than it used to: This is a big one. A recent (good) shift in my back pain has found me meditating even more than usual. Whereas meditation used to be a 5-10 minute practice a few times a week, I now find meditation a useful tool to not only calm my brain but also to calm my pain. My practice is expanding and near daily I am experiencing some sort of little epiphany. Next spring I’ll be attending Instinctive Meditation Training with Lorin Roche at Bindu,, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

5a.  I don’t have batwings.  Yes, I practice yoga because I love it.  But no bat wings on my arms, tight triceps, biceps and a firm(er) body are nice side effects.

“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” —Rumi

My soul speaks to me the loudest when I am practicing yoga in one form or another.  That is really the biggest reason I practice yoga.

Your power lies within.  Breathe it, live it, love it ……