Not everyone is able to establish a practice. In fact, many people think of practice as a very serious undertaking that demands more time, effort and concentration than they have to give.
Well, it ain’t necessarily so.
My own meditation practice – and I’ve been practicing and teaching for over 30 years – really began when I stopped trying to meditate. At the time I had cancer, two small children, no energy, a lot of pain, and all I thought I knew about meditation was in shambles. I couldn’t concentrate, sitting was agony, my focus was shot, and making the time was virtually impossible. Yet I’d never been in greater need of the kind of psychic strength that meditation alone provides. I remember thinking: was meditation only for people with lots of time and energy? It didn’t make sense. And so began my personal journey into the philosophy and techniques of practice, and using them to help get through a day. From that exploration grew a practice that is the very center of my life.
So please – don’t worry about not having time, no one does. And forget about trying to concentrate; it’s counter-productive. Instead, create a uniquely personal practice that works for your unique needs – an active meditation practice that doesn’t demand concentration, but promotes focus; a practice that isn’t an addition to everything else, but an integral part of everything you do.
And most important of all – a practice you enjoy.
Meditation is ‘an effort toward concentration.’ (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 1.13).
In sitting meditation the ‘effort toward concentration’ is a solitary, inner exploration of consciousness directed toward the center of your deepest Self. In active meditation the same ‘effort toward concentration’ becomes a practical, user-friendly means to cope with stress, fatigue, and tension while engaged in daily activities. One does not negate the other. You can practice either – and you can practice both. It’s simply a matter of taking your practice out of the privacy of your home and into the stresses of your everyday life. Active Meditation is sitting meditation-on-the-go.
1 Mindfulness is a free-form approach to meditation, tuning into an awareness of your surroundings and gently reminding yourself to stay in moment. You practice by being observant of all that is going on around you and/or inside your head. You learn to observe without judgment, letting go of tension and resisting distractions by simply being receptive to the world through which you are moving.
2 Visualization activates the imaginative power of your mind through creating images to focus on, and has been widely adopted by Western medicine as an effective form of treatment support and healing. In Yoga terms, visualizing opens your ‘third eye’, and allows you to see what cannot otherwise be seen, such as energy. To visualize, your eyes need not be closed, or your environment tranquil. When you find yourself tensing up, you ‘see’ within a color that you associate with calm, and let that color expand through your body. If you are feeling tired, ‘see’ energy and direct it through your fatigue like colored streamers.
3 Breath is the manifestation of Prana, life force, and through focus on your breathing you gain direct access to its power. The most available meditative focus of all – after all, aware of not, you are always breathing - and focus on your respiratory rhythm, its speed or slowness, evenness or irregularity, without judgment or correction, organically deepens your breath and quiets your mind. One simple form of practice, walking, working, worrying or preparing dinner, is to inhale energy and exhale tension. Simple, direct and transformative.
4 Mantra is sound vibration activated by chanting ‘bija’ or seed syllables which when chanted silently, within, become a completely portable practice technique. The basic mantra, OM, is the primal cosmic vibration, and when heard within creates an energy that seems to absorb all tension and stress, almost magically, generating inner quiet in the midst of noise.
Active meditation brings meditative focus into every aspect of your life
It is often easier to meditate in the middle of activity than it is in solitude and silence. In fact, in my teaching I’ve found that many people for whom it is really difficult – even tension producing – to meditate in peace and quiet, find it easy and immediately gratifying to do so when they are dealing with a difficult situation at work, waiting on line at the grocery store, or rushing to make an appointment. The contrast between the relative calm of any focus and the yakety-yak of a stressed-out mind is so stark, that even one brief moment of interior quiet becomes huge – and you immediately experience the benefits of your meditation.
Active meditation develops your ability to focus and stay centered regardless of stress. Practice is the ongoing process of staying in the moment by consciously choosing focus over distractions, and calm over tension – a powerful and empowering life skill. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, when you have the psychic ability to connect your innate inner store of strength, energy and calm, everything you do becomes a form of yoga.
About Jana Titus
For Jana, Yoga is an on-going, transformative life practice that she’s practiced and taught for over 25 years. A nationally registered master yoga teacher, E-RYT 500; certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, and practitioner of CranioSacral Therapy, Jana has created a unique yoga-based approach to healing, wellness and self-fulfillment. Jana believes that everyone has the inner wisdom and strength to live their best possible lives, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Find Jana at:
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