I'm a fan of the blogger Glennon Melton who describes life as "Brutiful", beautiful and brutal at the same time. If we think that we're in control and have things figured out, life and our fellow humans can throw up the unexpected, unearth our biggest fears, and shake everything we count as secure.
Q. Why do you cry so often?
A. For the same reason I laugh so often. Because I'm paying attention.
Glennon Doyle Melton
- If we pause and quiet our minds can we sense the messages of our heart?
- If we change the physical dynamic in this area of our body, can it change the energy we give out, our thoughts, our outlook?
- Can our yoga postures make us softer, more open, more courageous beyond the physical?
Reality intersected with my theorising when just before I stepped in to teach my Saturday morning class, I was told about the terrorist attacks in Paris that had taken place the night before. An exploration of the heart and our compassion suddenly felt more vulnerable and challenging.
Tuning into our our hearts is hardest when there is pain and fear - distraction, lashing out and numbing seem far easier choices. But, if we refuse to experience our emotions they remain awaiting our attention, deep inside our bodies. If we feel powerless in the world, yoga reminds us to look inside ourselves first. If we want life to be more gentle, connected and loving, can we create more of that in ourselves?
Try heart opening postures
This simple technique gives soothing self-care to your heart. It’s ideal if you feel anxious or sad when you wake in the morning or before you go to sleep.
- Lie on your back and place your hands on top of one another, over your heart. Sense your heart beating deep in your body.
- Deepen your breath and feel as it fills out your chest and expands your side ribs and back. Lengthen your exhale, and make the breath slow and steady.
- As you inhale, visualise that the breath is being pulled into the body through the palms of your hands, deep into your heart. If it helps, you can visualise the colour green moving with the breath.
- On the exhale, imagine that the breath slowly moves down inside your arms, through the shoulders, past the elbows and wrists, and back to the hands.
- On your next inhale visualise pulling the breath into the hands again, pause for a moment and then exhale the breath back down the arms to the hands.
- You can set a timer for 5/10 minutes before you begin, or repeat this cycle until you feel your heart has been sufficiently nourished. You may feel a build up of heat in your hands and chest.
- If your thoughts become distracted, gently bring your focus back to the breath.
He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being, wherever
he goes, he remains in me.
When he sees all beings as equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga. (BG 6.29-32)
The Bhagavad Gita (translation), approx 500 BC