In the midst of the holiday buzz, I hope you are creating regular space for quiet, reflective listening in these dark days approaching the winter solstice. Winter is Nature’s time to hibernate and retreat. Since we are also connected to Nature, it is wise that we follow her lead and begin to slow down, get ample amounts of sleep, rest, meditate, and retreat in order to recharge after a long productive year. After all, most of the natural world becomes dormant during this season, why shouldn’t we?
Where to begin? For starters, I highly recommend opening your winter routine with an intention that inspires you and opens your heart space for deeper listening. While keeping in mind the particular demands of your life, look at any undesirable behavioral pattern, habit, or attachment you have and consider removing just one to help you change, enhance, or grow into a more conscious being this season. What is currently occupying your life energy right now? Which part of your self is likely to go out of balance (diet, spending habits, travel, or other)? And, do you have any goals on the horizon for the near future (such as graduation, exercising three times a week, buying a new car, or taking a vacation)? Choosing your goals and taking the appropriate action is where intention comes in handy everyday as a way to redirect your time, energy (prana), and resources
After an intention is set, consider starting a morning meditation practice to drop into deeper listening. Make sure you have found the right amount of support to be physically comfortable in a chair, cushion, or lotus position. A short 5- to10-minute, medium 10- to 20-minute, or long 20- to 60-minute sit will have a tremendous effect on your day. In my experience, meditating on and off over the past 17 years, I’ve noticed greater balance, clarity, and efficiency in my day-to-day choices when my day begins on the meditation cushion. By reflecting on the meaning of yoga (union) and my relationship to spirit, I’ve gained more self-awareness, confidence, and trust in my life’s purpose and meaning. Dedication and love for the practice and Self will eventually lead you to a still pointwhich feels like your own personal retreat centerto return to again and again.
Please, don’t just take my word on this, try it for yourself. And as Jamyang Kyenste Rinpoche said, “The more and more you listen, the more and more you will hear. The more you hear, the more and more deeply you will understand.”
What if eating became a part of your meditation practice? To start, choose a special, clean place to eat each meal, free of clutter and distractions. I believe it is valuable to choose a specific comfortable seat just for eatinglike you would do for meditationother than your couch, desk, bed, or car. This is one very important way to promote conscious eating; it can also prevent overeating which puts out your agni(inner digestive fire). In general, the more mindful you are when you eat, the more you relish and savor your foods and the more satiated you feel with less. As a winter practice, consider savoring how your food tastes and smells, pay attention to how well your body digests it, and tune in to how much you need to satisfy your hunger. With too much food in your belly, it’s easy to lose motivation; without enough food, it’s hard to maintain focus or stamina to get through one day, let alone answer your heart’s calling.
About Melina Meza: Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT, has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for over 16 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition and healthy living into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga. Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga emphasizes the healing teachings of the ancient yogis and inspires students to adapt their asana practice, diet and lifestyle routines to better harmonize with the seasonal changes occurring in nature. Melina is the lead teacher at Seattle’s 8 Limbs Yoga Centers and is also the author of Art of Sequencing an innovative book that includes 34 unique yoga sequences and over 1,500 photos offering creative inspiration for experienced yoga teachers as well as fresh instructional ideas to jump start a home practice. More information about Melina and her offerings can be found at www.melinameza.com.