OM(aah, ooh, hmm)
Shamatha, a Sanskrit term for peaceful abiding reached through meditation on an object, breath, or mind. Begin by sitting in the Seven Points Posture, with a lowered gaze and heart lifted focus, on an object, picture, or drawing. Breathe in. Release. Repeat. Removing the picture, begin to focus on breath. Naturally and with ease, breathe in and out. Notice the gap in between each in and out breath. This space is always there, but rarely noticed. It is expansive and limitless. As thoughts and emotions come, be aware of them, without judgment or reaction. Let them pass through. Release them as a balloon is released in the sky. Let them settle, as sand rests in water once it is calm. Picture a rock tight in your hand and let it fall to the ground. Continue to breathe in and out.
Now, increase the space between the in and out breaths to four counts. Continue this practice until the mind wanders off. As you notice the mind thinking, bring the awareness back to the breath. Follow the breath, in, rest, out. Be aware of the location of your breath. Do you notice it in the nostrils, the throat, or chest. Try to bring it down deep into the belly than slowly let it out. Continue this breathing pattern, bringing awareness to your contact points. Feel the support of the earth below you. Now, take a full breath into your entire body reaching to your toes. Relax your muscles as you release the breath.
Come back to this space and this place. Move your fingers and toes, slowly and gently. Begin to bring movement back to your body. Lift your gaze.
Susan J. McFarland
March 23, 2019
She got quieter as she got older. Listening to the silence, she heard the words in between. They left no room for a response. Fewer words spoken, allowed for more to be absorbed. No need to interrupt with a quick reply she waited, as a long silent pause ebbed out. Enveloping the space, with the wisdom of the years, brought her peace to the present moment. The comfort of quiet brought her to a place of ease. No longer in need of answering questions or arguing concerns, she was free to be. Her own inner understanding was enough without a desire for others to see her the way she saw herself.
The echo breath in yoga, a technique of finding more breath to release after the initial exhale, is a concept to bring forward in life. When I think I have exhausted all possibilities, I find I have a bit left to push out. It signifies that I'm not done. There is more to let go of if I dig deep. A final cleansing can be found if a slight amount of effort is practiced. Thinking of my life and the need for the echo breath, in possessions, partnerships, and parenting, I reflect on what is left to exhale.
Organizing is therapeutic for me. I continuously review what items are in my home. Often, I rearrange them or set them aside for a season. Finding the ”echo breath” in my material goods, I rethink what I really need. Does it serve a purpose? What is its importance? Echoing the desire for minimalism I bring the breath into my buying. Considering an item, I breathe in. On the exhale I release the impetuous desire. Furthering exhaling, I determine whether the need is real or imagined. The breath gives pause to the moment, allowing for space and reason to override impulse. The right decision settles in.
A partnership is with a spouse, friends, or business associates. Limiting relationships, so the focus can be on the quality of it versus the quantity is what matters most to me. We have unlimited opportunities to partner with various people and groups. Time constraints only allow for a certain amount of choices. Choose wisely. Perhaps the echo breath is needed to really determine who and what you want to partner with? Breathing deeply and think about each significant partnership in your life. Does it line up with your current value system? Over the years my priorities have changed drastically. I am very conscious of how I spend my time. Who I am with and what I am doing matters. Make sure your partners align with your wants and needs. Boundaries or total release may be needed if they do not. Use your extra out breath to determine who’s right for you.
Using the echo breath while parenting can be the most difficult. You cannot donate or disregard your children. Boundaries can be set to a point, but if they are in your care, then total release is not possible. Finding the breath situationally could be the answer. Parenting gives us chances to practice breathing in response to escalating encounters. Learning to breathe through the chaos and discomfort provides the needed hesitation before conflict heightens. Adding an expiration at the end brings clarity and calm.
The practice of the echo breath in yoga class and beyond could supply the clearing of toxins that are housed in the physical, mental and spiritual realms. Finding a bit more breath to release can give you much needed space opening your world to new possibilities.
Susan J. McFarland
March 7, 2019