Dear Homegrown Yogis,
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a meditation workshop with one of my favorite yoga teachers, Rolf Gates. At the very start of the workshop, he gave three directives for how to sit in meditation: (1) sit still (2) with a long spine and (3) an open chest. I had heard teachers use this language before, but Rolf Gates asked us to think about these directives in a different way. Not only can we hold our physical bodies like this in meditation, but we can hold ourselves mentally and spiritually like this during meditation.
For me, “sitting still” meant doing my best to quiet my mind during meditation. It meant not getting caught up in every sound that I heard. It meant acknowledging these thoughts as they came up (which they did) and then letting them float right by rather than engaging with them.
Sitting “with a long spine” meant staying present and engaged throughout the meditation. It meant not zoning out or moving into daydreams. It meant staying in the quiet even when it would be easier to mentally wander off.
Keeping an “open chest” meant being open-hearted during meditation. It meant not judging myself when I failed to stay still and present. It meant feeling every single thing that came up during those 90 minutes of stillness – sadness, joy, frustration, annoyance – with total acceptance.
Since implementing these 3 simple cues, my meditation practice has completely transformed. Rolf Gates challenged me to think beyond my physical body, and now I am challenging myself to think beyond my mat. If these 3 things can make such a huge difference in my meditation practice, what can they potentially do in my everyday life?
“Sitting still” asks me to find peace and quiet in myself even as I go through the busyness of the world. Maintaining a “long spine” asks me to stay awake, present and engaged even when going through my everyday routines. It means not taking my normal escape routes of looking on my phone or thinking about the future or mindlessly eating in front of the TV. And the “open heart” – it means staying vulnerable and kind even when it would be easier to shut down or be judgemental.
I’ll keep you posted on how my little experiment goes! In the meantime, I welcome you to remind yourself whether you’re sitting in meditation, in a work meeting, or at home with your family:
Keep an open heart
Because as the famous expression goes, how you do anything is how you do everything.
With love ~ Rachel