Rise and Shine!

“Everyday, think as you wake up,

today I am fortunate to have woken up.

I am alive;

I have a precious human life,

I am not going to waste it

I am going to use all my energies to develop myself.

To expand my heart out to others,

to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.

I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,

I am not going to get angry or think badly about others,

I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

How are you going to begin your new year? To answer that question; let’s look at how you begin your day. Here are three simple steps that will ensure your days add up to a very good year.

Step 1

Set aside a space in your home where you’ll have the least amount of distractions – a corner in the living room, a walk-in closet or build a little roost out in the garage. Steer clear of the TV, the computer and the newspaper! This is your space; keep it clean. It’ll become sacred to you. You might consider adding something of beauty to your space like a candle, a photo of a beloved teacher, or fresh flowers.

Step 2

For the following wee, walk to your space every morning and stand there for a moment or two, taking it all in. Then move on with your day. Consistent action creates habit and habits are what build – or tear down – your character. You’re going to come to this space every morning for the next 30 days (we’ll take it one month at a time) when you wake up. Think of it as obedience training. In fact, feel free to leave yourself a small treat the night before. Unless of course, you have opportunistic hounds in the house as I do, then you’re on your own. Soon, you’ll find coming to your space will be reward enough. You’ll arrive there without much effort – the same way that you let the dogs out to pee or make that first pot of coffee…

Step 3

Now you’re ready to have a seat. If you have a zafu (meditation cushion), great! Get it out of the closet, dust it off and use it. Otherwise, sit on a chair, a pillow or the edge of a folded blanket. Build your seat from the ground up, rooting down evenly through the two sitting bones to provide stability at your base. As you inhale deeply through your nose, grow your spine long and tall sending the crown of your head upwards. Notice the freedom and lift in the spine that comes from grounding and stabilizing the pelvis. As you exhale, simply relax into your space. Stay put for awhile.

One of the most frequent statements I hear from people who won’t meditate is “I could never sit still that long!” No worries, I’m not asking you to sit down and shut up for an hour (although…).

Just ten minutes.

OK, five minutes.

I’ll even go so far as to say two minutes out of the gate! ANYONE can sit still for two minutes. I propose even the most ADHD of us can manage that. Set a timer so you’re not constantly looking at your watch. Two minutes; that’s enough time to repeat the above quote from my main man Tenzin Gyatso at least three times. Give it a shot. Then make the commitment to do it again the next morning, and the next, and the next…

Meditation is a crucial part of any yoga practice. This ain’t screwin’ around with goals or New Year’s Resolutions here. This is action. We’re making a commitment to our practice; to developing ourselves, to expanding our hearts out to others, and to benefiting others as much as we can.

Avoid overwhelming yourself with the thought of meditating for a whole year. Just go to your space one day at a time – but go to your space!!

Lisa Bracken teaches at The Canebrake (www.TheCanebrake.com) as well as at NSU in Tahlequah. She meditates daily with her dog Louie at her side in a warm, quiet space at home.

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