Just as the cat makes her way to the sunny windowsill to offset the morning chill (and to see what is happening in the hood), we too splash water on our faces, make a morningcuppa and kiss our beloveds good day.
These simple acts, elevated with the element of self-awareness, give our lives meaning, a gratifying sense of BE-ing. I think we can say that this shift from habit to ritual is one of the essential purposes and great gifts of our daily Yoga practice: on the cushion, on the mat, conscious breathing.
Yoga gives us the keys to inspire meaning from the mundane. One of the simplest practices is to cultivate a pause–a conscious gap–between inhale and exhale, between standing tall and sweeping the arms up, between one thought and the next. In the pause, we sense what is, and what it is we are creating.
I invite you to pause and inquire… what am I creating in this moment, in this cycle of life? And then to ask, how can I cultivate a feeling of meaningfulness and intentionality? How can I elevate the habitual to ritual, to create awareness and wonder?
Try this Pranayama practice –
Resting in the Gap: Breath as Ritual
Find a comfortable seat. Simply observe your breath as it is for a few cycles. You don’t need to practice Ujjaii or any other technique; just watch your breath… you’ll find it starts to slow down. After a few minutes, get more specific: watch the moment your breath “turns around,” when the inhale becomes an exhale and the exhale turns to inhale… How does it feel? … Is it rushed? Is it jerky? Smooth? Is it easy today? Or are you restless? Invite and allow all sensations and thoughts as the gap between the breaths gradually increases–including anxiety and agitation as well as calm and ease. Remember there’s no magic number, or prize for holding the longest time. The gift is the time you give yourself to just be, the increasing ability to accept whatever it is that arises in your own mind and in others, and the ability to appreciate each moment as it comes and goes. This simple practice can be as short as five minutes.. or as long as you have. Once you have this under your belt you can pause and practice it anywhere and anytime. You’ll be able to accept even the most difficult situations and personal thoughts, and turn them around, patiently and compassionately.