We have all had these moments where we know unequivocally that all is well — even if things appear to be going wrong. Indeed, we may describe it differently. For some, it is a feeling of connection to something greater than ourselves, or perhaps some may describe it as a quiet mind, or feeling present, happy, alive, or at peace. While dwelling in this space, we sense a deep healing is taking place — emotionally, physically and mentally. Our words may differ about the experience, but we can all agree that it is a place in which we would like to spend more time, and a daily spiritual practice can offer us just this opportunity. Sharon Gannon, the founder of world-renowned Jivamukti Yoga, shares practices that we can incorporate into our lives altogether or choose one or two every day for a life of greater peace and connection.
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Wake Up with Gratitude
How often do we wake up and before we know it we’re off on a mind trip about the things we want (more sleep, a cup of coffee, or a day off from work)? Gannon says we can train ourselves to instead wake up in a good mood with a peaceful mind and loving heart. She suggests that upon waking we: express gratitude for our lives and all of our teachers; pray for the happiness of others, and ask for guidance on how to best serve the world throughout the day ahead.
While laying there in bed, also take a moment to send blessings and love to someone in your life, and perhaps during a snooze break, expand that list to include as many people as you can — including those you may have judgments about. Gannon says that blessings change us: “How willing are you to forgive, let go, and to allow love to lead the way?” In that moment we realize that we can be at peace instead of feeling conflict.
Put Others First
The act of thinking of others instead of ourselves reminds us that we have everything we need and that our perpetual self-interest is actually making us unhappy and disconnected. Before even having our own breakfast, can we feed someone else? The birds? Our pets or family? What opportunities to practice caring for another can we seize during our day?
The Magic Ten of Asanas
Gannon shares something extraordinary that mostly yogis have only heard of: “The Magic Ten.” It is a series of 10 movements that she recommends doing every day that brings physical, mental and emotional health, and it only takes 10 minutes. When we bring an intention to the Magic Ten such as “may this practice help free me from anger or may this practice help me more clearly hear guidance” then it becomes a powerful tool for integrating body, mind, and spirit. Similarly, we could use Tai Chi or another short movement practice with the intention of reconnecting.
That “all is well” feeling often feels a lot like joy. And dancing when no one is watching is a sure way to bring that joy in consciously. Gannon recommends a series of aerobic moves to kickstart that joy, and then shut the drapes, put on some music, and remind yourself how fun it is to be alive.
Being a yogini, Gannon recommends using kriyas (cleansing exercises like Uddiyana Bandha) to help clear out inner mental and physical toxins that may be disturbing our peace. If you’re not a yogi yourself, you could consider smudging your body with sage, taking a salt bath, heading to a gong bath or drinking more water as an act of intentionally letting go of any toxic energy in your system.
Being able to breathe easily is being able to be at ease with your life — to allow things to be as they are. There are many more elaborate breathing patterns like alternate nostril breathing and kapalabhati that produce different physical and emotional outcomes, but a simple five minutes of breathing in through the nostrils and out through the mouth with an intention to allow all that is can also work wonders.
Sometimes our minds just go quiet and it feels like peace has descended. And others times, we need to practice. The best meditation is the one that works for us, so find one that feels like it stretches you but that you can also see over time as helpful to you, and commit to just 10 to 15 minutes a day to start. Gannon uses the mantra “let go” during her meditation.
Finally, make time in your day to just surrender for ten minutes. Gannon recommends lying down comfortably and working through a body scan, asking every part of your body from toes upwards to relax, and then surrendering your body to a higher SELF for some self-care and self-love.
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