When meditation is needed

One simple meditation technique

We are well aware of it: We are in the depths of winter, temperatures are low, the days short and our immune system vulnerable. To our grandparents the winter months were known to be months of moderation, even scarcity, but mostly a period of rest. When they looked out of their living room windows into the white streets dipped in dim, golden light, they understood that this season is a slow one. This is a season of withdrawal, reflection and indeed rest.

But what do we do in January? We don’t adapt our lifestyles to this season of rest. We continue with our busy lives and then wonder why we get sick or why our minds are so scattered. Myself included! I tend to misplace my phone and my keys all the time and I get more distracted. The other day when yet again, I left my apartment without my wallet it dawned on me: During a season where everything is supposed to slow down, my inside is too busy and hence out of sync. I NEED TO SLOW DOWN!  

The most powerful tool yoga offers us in this regard is meditation. And although meditation comes more naturally after a good asana and pranayama practice, it is still possible to settle into a peaceful mind without a previous asana practice. All you need is a quiet space in your home and 5-30 min of time.

Now I started to favor the word “intimacy” instead of meditation. Michael Stone introduced this term to me, as he believes meditation sounds to heavy and threatening to most of us. I agree. To me meditation is a time-off from a busy day. It is a space to check in with myself, a powerful time of deep listening. This practice brings me back into an intimate space with myself.

Simple meditation technique: Labeling thoughts

One technique I learned from one of Michael’s podcasts is labeling my thoughts. This is a common technique, yet a very helpful one for me. There are two ways of labeling thoughts I would like to share with you:

1)   “THINKING, THINKING”: instead of analyzing my thoughts, judging them or even creating more stories about them, I simply state “THINKING, THINKING” whenever I get aware of a thought travelling through my mind.  Once I say (out loud, or internally) “THINKING, THINKING” I settle back into my space of intimacy. Thought was noted, labeled as thinking, let’s move on..

2)   “PAST, PAST” / “FUTURE, FUTURE”: The mind either tells me stories about my past or roams into the future. In this space of intimacy I want to stay in the now. So as soon as I become aware of a story or thought about the past I label it “PAST, PAST” and when my mind projects into the future I name it “FUTURE, FUTURE” and continue my sitting practice.

I hope this simple practice of intimacy using the labeling technique helps you to find more rest during the winter months. It surely helps me to stay grounded, more alert and clear in my mind.

One more advice: Please don’t make a big thing about YOUR MEDITATION PRACTICE. The bigger it becomes in our minds, the more stories we create about it and the more disturbed we get. So just find a comfortably space, sit down and enjoy a few minutes of peace and rest.

Author: Deddou Burkhard, yoga teacher & founder of POP UP YOGA