I don’t really have much to say about the month of December (or the craziness of the last few weeks and transition) other than it’s the perfect time to slow down. Yep, that’s right. Although we may seem otherwise inclined to pack in our schedules, rush from store to store picking the perfect presents, or set up outings and dates with friends, this month be better served by taking it down and a notch and restoring your Self.
Mercury is retrograde…again…and although this may strike fear into the heart’s of some, it’s really more an opportunity to pay particular attention to how you are communicating. Anything “re” is good, so reflect, relax, reconnect, rejuvenate in any way that you can (might I also add re-read everything and double spell check!). When this planet is moving backwards in the zodiac it means our communication is a little off-kilter. Bring your attention to your meditation and restorative practice, journal to reflect on the year past, and slow it down when it comes to frenetic pace of the holiday season.
Let’s just say there’s a reason that Mercury always seems to go retrograde this time of year…we need to slow down and take this time to reflect and reevaluate our needs as we move forward into 2012.
December dates to note
December 1: World Aids Day
December 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
December 8: Bodhi Day
December 10: Full Moon and Human Rights Day
December 21: Hanukkah and Winter Solstice
December 24: New Moon: Set intentions of the month ahead and start planning New Year’s Resolutions
December 25: Christmas
December 26: Kwanzaa begins
December 31: New Year’s Eve
Many happy blessings to you and yours this holiday season!
Have you heard of this song Weightless by Marconi Union? It’s said to be the most relaxing song in the world! The band worked with sound therapists to create the perfect harmonies, rhythms and bass lines that help to lower cortisol levels, slow the heart rate, and reduce blood pressure. The song is also said to slow breathing and reduce brain activity.
Why not give this a play the next time your feeling stressed or having trouble sleeping? Even better, try playing it during meditation when the monkey mind just won’t quit!
Warning: it is not recommended to listen to this track while driving…just sayin’.
The So Hum mantra is simple and can be practiced during mediation as well as asana. This mantra, which translates to “I am That,” is a reflection of the breath but also a contemplation on our very essence of being. “So” means “I am” and “Hum” means “That” relating to our connection between all beings, the Universe and ultimately, to God. By meditating on “I am That” you see that you are never separate from God and that we are all connected in the same way.
Come to a comfortable seated position. Sit up tall reaching out through the crown of the head. Open across the heart center. Rest palms where are they are comfortable, taking a mudra if you prefer. Relax your jaw and bring your attention to the breath. Once you have found a comfortable rhythm, inhale and silently say the word “so” to yourself. Repeat on the exhale by silently speaking “hum.” When the “so hum” rhythm is comfortable begin to contemplate the meaning “I am That.” Consider that all beings are all a part this same breath. With every inhale see your neighbors, pets, friends, family inhale to the sound of “so” and send loving kindness to everyone as you all exhale together to the sound of “hum.”
Continue in this way for the rest of your meditation. You can also practice this mantra during asana. Whenever you feel distracted, relate to your breath and silently speak So Hum on each inhale and each exhale. Doing so will help to cultivate awareness of your breath and a deeper reflection of your asana practice.
How does “I am That” resonate with you and your practice?
I participated in a super fun Easter egg hunt with my boyfriend’s family yesterday. It’s a great tradition and something I have enjoyed taking part in. As we deciphered each clue, we made our way throughout the house and the property looking for our wares. My last gift, much to my surprise, was my very own Tibetan Singing Bowl! It is very similar to the one pictured above and I can’t wait to learn how to play it.
Tibetan Singing Bowls are perfect for anyone that meditates, from the novice to the experienced. They come in all shapes in sizes from those you hold comfortably in your had to those you sit on the floor. The vibrations of the singing bowls have the same wavelength found in the brainwaves and produce feelings of relaxation and are incredibly healing. They are used for meditation, music, relaxation, personal well-being, religious or spiritual practice and sound therapy/healing.
Most bowls are made in Nepal and consist of bronze or a mixture of other metals and come with a wooden striker and cushion. To play, you simply guide the wooden striker on the outside of the singing bowl (this is the part I’ll be practicing!) to create friction and produce sound. Bodhisattva.com has great step-by-step instructions and you can learn advanced techniques including The Wah-Wah and Water Bowl Sounds.
I’m excited to learn to play the singing bowl and add it to my meditation practice. Now all I need is a drum and I’ll really be all set!
Do you currently use a singing bowl or have you used one for meditation? What are your experiences with this meditation tool?
Looking for your own singing bowl? Try these!