Mudras are a conscious way of holding the arms and hands in order to express meaning. We often use a mudra at the beginning of our Practice to effectively engage and influence our body and mind. Wayne Dyer says, “Live every day with intention,” and I have found that defining my intentions before setting off on any project is an excellent way for me to stay focused.
The Kubera Mudra helps support you in setting your intentions and manifesting your desires. You can begin with either hand. The thumb, middle and index finger are joined together with the other fingers curled in towards the palm. The thumb represents fire, the index represents air and the middle represents space…all joining together to form a powerful force that helps you focus on fulfilling your desires and aspirations.
Adriana loves yoga because the practice allows her to truly inhabit her body and find a comfortable and livable space deep within. Inspired by Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Adriana blends compassion for all beings with a challenging mindful asana practice that supports where her students are while encouraging them to explore their edge. Come to class with her, and your prana will be stoked through conscious breathing techniques while cultivating inner perceptual awareness and increasing concentration.
Eastern philosophy intrigues me now more than ever. Fourteen years ago, right before moving to San Francisco, I was sitting at a café in Barcelona, Spain, sharing my passion for Buddhism with an old friend. She mentioned that Buddhism was very strict and that not all those who embark in the journey succeed at finding Liberation (or Samadhi). My friend was right. However, I continued reading Buddhist texts to realize that all the wisdom from the ancient Buddhist Masters was alive within them.
Today, I teach yoga at Laughing Lotus SF, and have had the honor to study Shambhala Meditation with Alice Tarkeshi. Alice Tarkeshi has been a student and teacher of the Shambhala Tibetan Buddhist Dharma brought to the West by her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Alice teaches every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:15 AM at Laughing Lotus SF with the deep faith in everyone’s ability to awaken.
After the readings, the workshops, Alice’s Morning Meditation at Laughing Lotus, and after doing nothing, I now understand that meditation is strict yet gentle. In meditation, we turn the gaze inward, we hear the breath, and we calm the mind. Buddhism is the practice of training the mind on how to be happy, and free from suffering. Meditation is science and common sense: We plant good seeds to produce good food. If you are interested in the path of meditation it is helpful to be aware of the foundational principles and challenges of meditation. Below are five steps you can take to embark on a daily meditation practice.
1. Attitude and Intention
Have an optimistic attitude, thirst for truth, and be determined to sit in silence to experience meditation. In life, everything is motivation, everything has an underlying motive, and everything we do sets something else in motion. Karmic Law explains that every action has a consequence. In meditation, our motivation is to be happy, to find fulfillment, or to be content. We take action by sitting in meditation, and the end result is spiritual growth.
2. Time and Space
Find a quiet space to practice daily meditation. Set aside a period of time for doing nothing, pausing, and retreating from patterns of thinking, compulsions, and impulses. Start by sitting 10 to 15 minutes daily in a quiet space at home or in the office. The mind is well rested during the morning. Do not get discouraged if plans change, if schedules change, or if you are interrupted. Continue to show up and remember Step #1: Have an optimistic attitude! Then, adjust according to what’s happening in your life. For example, if you miss your morning meditation, be sure to take a break after lunch and do a walking meditation instead.
3. Body and Breath
In any meditation style, we always begin with the body. Be aware of your dorsal spine. Sit upright on a stack of blankets, a pillow, or on a chair. Feel the sit bones rooted, the shoulders aligned with the hips and relaxed, the heart open, the chin slightly tucked in, and the crow of the head uplifted towards the heavens. Posture awareness will give you a sense of warriorship, courage yet stillness. Once you find a comfortable sit, start feeling your breath. If your mind wanders, which it surely will, without judgment, return back to feel the breath. Meditation is deceptive in its simplicity. Three words: Feel Your Breath.
4. Training Mind and Emotions
The essential nature of our mind is peaceful, vast, wise, and the seed of tremendous potential. Work with your mind to be at ease with the emotional states that you have, and to have the full use of this powerhouse of potential. The process of training the mind requires that you practice meditation over and over. In meditation, we develop a program to take care of our mind to exercise the muscle of mindfulness, and place our mind where we want it to be. Direct your thoughts towards beauty, truth, and goodness. Regarding emotions (love and hate, happy and sad) the more impure these are, the less we can enter within. However, in meditation, we experience reality, what is going on versus what should be going on. See things how they really are. If emotions are impure, you will gradually find more acceptance of “what is” and will discover new states of existence through continued meditation practice.
5. Continue to show up to meet Buddha
Continue to show up to meditation with an open mind and heart. Take refuge in Buddha as an example and inspiration. Buddha means Awake. Buddha realized his true nature, the essence of who he was. Each of us has Buddha nature. Take refuge in your own wakefulness. Experience reality as it is and do not be afraid of being who you are. Join a community of people that practices meditation. We are all working to see through our confusion and reach clarity. We are not hiding and are engaged in discovering our true selves. Things don’t happen overnight. It’s a practice. Continue showing up and walking this path.
Without achieving anything in the conventional sense you will make progress by having a daily meditation practice. You will understand Buddhist teachings through your own experience, you will respond differently to challenging situations, and you will deepen your capacity to be present for yourself and others. Become a genuine and compassionate human being and your goodness will generate goodness in others. Maybe you will not reach Samadhi, like my friend mentioned fourteen years ago, but you will be planting good seeds for today.