Meditation Challenge: Day 1 What is Meditation?

Namaste and welcome to this meditation challenge.
I am honored you decided to join me on this journey.

What is meditation?

Meditation is being with what is. We can put that definition into practice by:
Meeting ourselves where we are, right here and now
and by,
Meeting ourselves just as we are
In other words, there is no need to add commentary to whatever you are experiencing.

Keep it Simple

Find a good spot where you can make yourself really comfortable. It is best if you minimize distractions and interruptions.
Pick a time where you can give yourself your undivided attention for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 1 Relax

Getting good at relaxing is essential to meditation. Otherwise, all you will notice is how tense you are.
Make things easier for yourself by letting go of your expectations. Expectations are old thoughts in your mind about what should happen. Instead awake to the freshness and uniqueness of this day.

If you would like to start with a little bit of movement to relax more easily , you may want to try:

Guided meditation below, when the recording comes to an end, take as long as you wish to enjoy the silence and to savor the effects of the practice.

Enjoy!

rubén

21 day Meditation Challenge with Rubén Vásquez

21 day meditation challenge with Ruben Vasquez
Even though yoga makes us feel good, most people find it difficult to practice consistently. This meditation challenge is an invitation to practice guided meditation every day for 21 days. This is one way to help you establish a consistent practice to deepen your meditation practice and to receive the many benefits of meditating.

How does it work?

Participating in this challenge is FREE. Just sign up for the challenge so that every day you can receive a reminder email with a link to a guided meditation. Simple. You practice guided by the recording and then you are ready for your day. If you wish, you can keep a journal to keep track of questions, insights, benefits and obstacles you are noticing.
If you have questions or comments I invite you to post them on the website. I will be glad to post suggestions and answers to your questions so that you and other participants can benefit.

I look forward to meditating with you,

rubén

Click to REGISTER >

Yoga Manifesto: How make yoga practice enjoyable, safe and effective

Pathway

 

 

Embarking on any journey of conscious learning requires clarifying what is it that we are doing, why and how. As a yoga practitioner I am keenly aware of how important it is to be clear on my answers to these questions so that I have good reasons for doing what I am doing and also to make sure that I am doing what I think I am doing.

This is even more important to me as a teacher because I want to ensure that I have logical reasons for teaching what I teach. This is one of my major motivation to keep studying, that is, exploring, learning and, most importantly, putting into practice techniques that enhance the quality of my participation in my life. I continually reflect on these ideas to guide my practice, my teaching and my life. This manifesto is one way to communicate this as clearly and concisely as possible.

What is Yoga?

YOGA : You Organically Growing in Awareness

Yoga is Presence. Presence is attending to every unique here and now moment of your life. Being present is a choice that only you can make. As we attempt to be present we start noticing restrictions and inefficiencies that hinder our ability to participate consciously, deliberately and wholeheartedly in our lives.

Yoga is one path to grow in our awareness organically. Organically means that we explore our options for thoughts, feelings, movements, breathing and interaction in a gradual and sustainable manner. As we find limitations, obstacles and restrictions we make adjustments to move beyond our current levels of understanding. Slowly our growing awareness results in more harmonious relationships between our body, mind, emotions and breath. We can see our practice as a combination of Self-Awareness, Self-Care and Self-Regulation. As a result, we enhance the quality of our participation in our life and live a vibrant, meaningful and wholehearted existence.

How to practice yoga

SIMPLE: Self-Inquiry Modulate Propensities for Life Enrichment

In all endeavors it is tempting to keep making things more and more complex. We keep our yoga practice simple. Yoga is one way to know ourselves thoroughly. We start by engaging in self-inquiry. We pay attention to our inner world and to our participation in our life. We notice our tendencies, some helpful, some unhelpful, some conscious, some unconscious. We learn to modulate our propensities so that all our actions contribute to enrich our life.

8 Limbs of yoga

What is the intention for practicing each limb of yoga?

Yoga is a complete system to ensure that we show up to our life every day, at every moment. We show up with our mind and heart open. As we notice our tendencies to close our mind and heart, we regulate these tendencies in thought, action, movement, breath and interaction to bring integrity, harmony and grace into all that we do.

  • We cultivate our capacity for kindness and compassion until, eventually, we learn to love life unconditionally. (yamas) This does not mean that we are passive or indifferent.
  • We cultivate our gratitude and inspiration until we live in contentment. (niyamas) This does not mean that we become complacent.
  • We enhance our natural capacity for moving consciously and deliberately without struggle, strain or self-judgment. (asana)
  • We become exquisitely familiar with our breathing processes. (pranayama)
  • We direct our senses masterfully. (pratyahara)
  • We concentrate steadily. (dharana)
  • We learn to remain effortlessly focused. (dhyana)
  • We integrate all of our systems by releasing all that we think we are or should be. (samadhi)
  • How do we practice yoga?

    We can choose to remember that:

    • We are whole and complete. We are enough.
    • We explore everything with playful curiosity to learn about all aspects of ourselves
    • We release strain, struggle and self-judgment.
    • When we move, we move consciously and deliberately.
    • Clarify the foundation of our life, in mind, emotions , body and respiration.
    • When we move, we engage gentle firmness around our joints specially when moving beyond our usual level of mobility.
    • We avoid pinching, forcing or squashing, especially at our joints.
    • We do the best we can without tension or agitation. We are clear on the difference between best and most.
    • We distribute our actions throughout our whole body.
    • How to keep our yoga practice safe

      What are some potential risks practitioners should be aware of?

      Any activity, even walking, when done carelessly may increase the risk of injury.

      Risk of injuries increase when you:

      • Struggle
      • Force
      • Overstretch
      • Hold your breath
      • Squash your joints
      • Pinch at joints
      • Move with momentum instead of control
      • Move mostly from a single joint

      How can yoga practitioners avoid injuries?

      • We know what we are doing and why
      • We pay close attention to our sensations
      • We learn to distinguish tolerable discomfort from pain
      • We breathe comfortably
      • We move with control
      • We clarify how much is enough
      • We choose our level of muscular engagement intelligently
      • We remain relaxed throughout the practice in body, breath, mind and emotion
      • We smile and enjoy our practice

      How can practitioners know if their practice is working?

      • During the practice we feel our whole body active
      • We notice our body warming up evenly without agitation
      • After practice we feel refreshed, relaxed AND energized
      • We feel more kindness, gratitude, compassion and love

      I hope that these ideas contribute to enhance your approach to your personal yoga practice.

      Peace,
      rubén

      Simple guided meditation with Rubén

       

       

Keep Meditation Simple: 10 minute video

 

 

Namaste,

Enjoy this 10 minute meditation observing the flow of a gentle breeze on a water lily pond.

Check out the video:

Other free videos:

May your day be filled with clarity,

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Meditation: Simple and Practical Suggestions

 

 

Namaste,

Growing research in meditation indicates that meditation can offer multiple benefits including, harmony in brainwave patterns, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, as well as increased blood flow to the brain. Having received many benefits from meditation myself, I want to make sure that others can also receive these benefits. That’s why I want to share a video and transcript of the first track in the Simple Meditations CD

Check out the video:

If you prefer the transcript:

Meditation is perhaps one of the best gifts that you can offer yourself. We often think that meditation is to bring the mind to have no thoughts whatsoever. This creates high expectations that are hard to live up to. Instead I would like to invite you to think of meditation as being with what is in other words meditation is to learn to be and to accept this moment just as it is/ Meditation deepens the intimate connection between you and your true nature. Please keep in mind that the most difficult part in meditation is to actually take the time to do it. So, give yourself the time to practice meditation by trusting that the world will be able to survive without you while you meditate.
When you are meditating relax and know that most likely distractions will happen, so when you get distracted it is very important not to struggle and not to judge yourself, just come back to the technique. It doesn’t matter how many times you get distracted, just keep coming back with no strain , no struggle and no self-judgment. This is very helpful in meditation. It is also very helpful in life.

You may use these videos to practice:

May your meditation practice be enjoyable and beneficial,

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Moving meditation: Dance of Shiva Arms and Legs with Movements in 3D space

 

 

As we continue the process of fine tuning our practice we may notice that doing the usual patterns starts to become easier. When even combining movement of the legs with the variations of movements for both the horizontal and vertical arm patterns becomes very familiar, it is time to start adding a bit more complexity. How do you know that it has become quite easy for you? If you find yourself thinking about other times and places, like planning your day while you are practicing, you will benefit from spicing up the practice so that your repertoire of movements, your coordination and focus can expand as well.

Some thoughts on learning

Learning requires stepping into less familiar territory. This means that we will make ‘mistakes’, we may move the leg to step two instead of three or we may get confused. This is an indication that we are moving beyond our comfort, which is the pre-requisite to learn. Like with learning anything else, it is a journey of discovery, and messing up, is part of the learning process. As we continue trying, we eventually figure out how to get things to move according to the new pattern. Then we can refine our movements and start playing with different speeds. The video below offers one possible pattern for moving the legs, and whole body, in 3D space while we continue using the already familiar horizontal and vertical arm patterns. Of course you can make up other combinations of leg movements.

Dance of Shiva Movements of Legs across Space in 3D rotation

  • Right leg moves up and forward
  • Turn to your left
  • Left leg arcs in and back
  • Right leg up and back to match the left leg

There are four leg actions that can match the four positions of the arms to take you around into a complete 360 degree turn. As you repeat the same leg pattern you have a chance to also modify the arm movements, so in the first turn you can go with arms forward (1-2-3-4), on the second turn you can move your arms backward (1-4-3-2), the third turn you can have one arm moving forward (1-2-3-4) and the other arm moving backward (1-4-3-2) and for the final turn you can reverse the arms. Of course, you can also explore starting with the left leg.

Video

In this video you can see an example of playing with the leg pattern that turns you around in 3D space.

As you probably know you can create all possible variations to help you stay focused while you expand your coordination. Remember to modulate the internal narration and commentary to a minimum.

I hope that you enjoy your practice.

As usual, please remember that there is a very complete DVD on the Theory and Practice of the Dance of Shiva by Andrey Lappa on Pranamaya.com.

Peace,
rubén

More Dance of Shiva articles:

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Moving meditation: Dance of Shiva Arms and Legs

 

 

The Dance of Shiva is a journey of expansion of our coordination, balance and ability to focus. When the patterns of Dance of Shiva become easy enough that we can think about something else while practicing, it is time to change the practice to continue expanding our coordination and processing capacity. We can move at a faster speed, we can change the pattern or we can add another level of complexity. Like in all aspects of yoga, rather than pursuing mastery, we are interested in engaging in mindful self-inquiry. A simple reason for this is to choose not to be stuck in doing things in only one way.

To add more complexity to the practice, the horizontal and vertical arm patterns can be combined with leg movements. Here is one basic pattern of leg movements.

Basic Leg Pattern 1:

Leg Pattern 1 Position 1

Leg Pattern 1 Position 2

Leg Pattern 1 Position 3

Leg Pattern 1 Position 4

Play with this pattern, moving forward from position 1 all the way to position 4 with each leg, then reverse the movements to go from position 1 to 4, then 3, 2 and returning to 1. The simplest approach could be to do the four variations of the arm movements combined with simple leg movements.

Combining Leg Pattern 1 with Horizontal Arm Movements

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 1, Leg 1

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 2, Leg 2

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 3, Leg 3

Dance of Shiva Horizontal Arms 4, Leg 4

Of course, to add more options, the same pattern can be combined with the vertical arm pattern:

Combining Leg Pattern 1 with Vertical Arm Movements

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 1, Leg 1

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 2, Leg 2

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 3, Leg 3

Dance of Shiva Vertical Arms 4, Leg 4

Of course, the variations in arm movements can also be combined with changing legs and leg pattern direction. Since each leg pattern can be done in two directions, forward and back, then there are 2 movements with each leg, for a total of 4 movements. The leg movements then can be combined with the 4 directions in each of the arm patterns, vertical and horizontal. So that forward movement of the arms can be combined with forward leg movement. Then backward movement of the arms can be combined with the same leg moving backward. For the alternating movements, when one arm goes forward and the other arm goes backward, the other leg can go forward. Finally, as the arm movements are reversed the second leg can move forward.

Video

In this video you can see an example of playing with these two options in the Dance of Shiva

There are, obviously, many more ways to explore with these patterns as a way to playfully immerse in this inquiry. As usual, there is never a good reason to strain, struggle or self-judge. Just trying is a good way to quiet down the internal narration and commentary.

I hope that you enjoy these explorations.

Please remember that there is a very complete DVD on the Theory and Practice of the Dance of Shiva by Andrey Lappa on Pranamaya.com.

Peace,
rubén

More Dance of Shiva articles:

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Benefits of Yoga Retreats

 

 

The main reason I go to my yoga mat every morning is because there I find a safe space for exploring the interconnections between my body, my breath, my emotions and my mind. My practice is a process of integrating all these different aspects of myself into the present moment. For me, the practice creates a sense of balance, meaning and purpose. My practice sets up the tone for my day,for my actions and for my interactions with others. In other words, my yoga practice prepares me for participating harmoniously in my life.

Our Yoga practice offers us a refuge where we can center and connect to the best possible version of ourselves. That’s why one of my favorite activities is to go on Yoga Retreat because away from the usual distractions I can create a space to invest time cultivating a more intimate relationship to my own being.

The retreat provides a place where we can:

  • forget about our usual tasks, chores and responsibilities
  • have time to rest and relax
  • reconnect with what is truly important to us
  • verify that we are moving along the best path to contribute our uniqueness to the world with grace, kindness and friendliness

Of course, since we are social beings, our journey is made sweeter by sharing with other people who are also exploring ways to be in greater harmony with themselves and with the world.

I would like to invite you to join me for the Joyful Being retreat in Costa Rica from June 3rd to June 10th, 2017. Everything is ready for you: a beautiful location in the natural environment of the Costa Rican mountains, comfortable accommodations, delicious food and plenty of time to rest, relax and recharge. Join me on this unforgettable journey!
For more information on this wonderful yoga retreat in Costa Rica please visit the website below:
yoga-here-now.com/retreats.html#next

Peace,
rubén

Affordable Yoga Retreat Costa Rica

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

11 Simple Steps to Learn Meditation

Bell Reflections

 

 

Meditation is gaining popularity. As a result, there are many options for those who want to try meditation. As suggested previously we are starting by defining meditation as being with what is, which can be understood as meeting yourself where you are and exactly as you are.

In order to make things easier for ourselves, it is a good idea to let go of our expectations about how the practice should unfold as well as about the potential benefits we may receive from our practice. It may be more helpful to recognize that cultivating the skill of being present (meditation) is in itself a way of fulfilling our most important duty, showing up to our lives. In addition, being present also enables us to notice the distractions, limitations and restrictions that may be interfering in our meaningful engagement in our lives.

In other words, meditation, is a way of enriching the quality of our relationship with ourselves, with the people around us and with the world.

The following steps can be valuable in establishing a sustainable meditation practice:

  • Keep it simple
  • Relax
  • Feel
  • Notice
  • Smile
  • Focus
  • Distractions will happen
  • Release self-judgement
  • Persist gently
  • Enjoy the effects
  • Repeat often

 

Keep it Simple

Make it easy to practice. We do not need any special equipment to meditate. Just allocate some space that is ready so that we can take a brief meditation break whenever we get a chance. If we feel pressed for time, we can just start with a 1, 2, 3 or 5 minute practice. Consider if it would help to remember that this moment we are in is new and irreplaceable and that the moment will never come back or be repeated, therefore it makes sense to choose to give this unique moment our undivided attention.

Relax

Release. Let’s give ourselves permission to be here and trust that the world will be able to survive without us. Whatever is not part of this moment can remain outside, if only for the practical reason that we cannot be effective in a place we are not. To relax, we pay attention to the sensations in our body from head to toes or toes to head noticing if there are any areas where we can release holding or tension.

Feel

Feel the sensations, emotions and thoughts. We tend to spend a lot of time in our heads, thinking, remembering, planning, regretting, predicting, etc. Instead of living in the story we have created for ourselves (and others) we can choose to shift into feeling mode, just connecting to whatever sensations are happening right where we are. Be aware of the tendency to put words into the sensations. Rather than describing, liking, disliking or judging what we are feeling, can we just feel what is happening?

Notice

Observe what is happening and notice that whatever we sense is changing constantly. As we pay attention to the ongoing flow of sensations, thoughts, feelings and emotions we may notice that certain ideas, attitudes and memories emerge in our mind. Are we trying to label, describe, judge, like or dislike what we are feeling? Are those sensations keep changing from one moment to the next. As you stay with the ongoing flow of sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts notice the words that might come up in your mind.

Smile

What is your attitude as you observe yourself in this moment? What happens if you invite a gentle smile? Does the experience change in any way? Is the change helpful and/or welcome? Is it possible to keep a gentle smile on your face?

Focus

When we recognize that this moment is changing contstantly it can be helpful to have an attitude of curiosity, noticing that there are many things happening as we remain still and silent. This curiosity can help us remain focused on being with the experience that is unfoding right where we are.

Distractions will happen

As a normal human being living in the 21st century we are probably well-practiced in keeping track of many ideas, thoughts, events and lists of things to do. We have trained ourselves to keep our attention switching back and forth between different activities and mental processes on a regular basis. So, it may not be surprising that we find it difficult to stay focused on just one thing. Even when we have chosen something interesting to focus on we find that our mind will get distracted sooner or later. In fact, we may get distracted many, many times. From this perspective, meditation is not a contest to see who can last the longest without any distractions. Instead, a very useful skill to develop is our capacity to keep coming back to this moment after every single distraction regardless of the frequency and length of the distractions.

Release self-judgement

As we bring our attention inwardly it may happen that we notice a familiar internal voice constantly offering judgements. For instance, that voice may immediately point out how we get distracted quite easily, maybe even going to the extent of deciding that we are not good at meditation. At those points, it may be helpful to remember that meditation is being with what is, even if what we are experiencing is distraction, boredom, impatience or frustration. Be curious to experience what happens when you give yourself permission to be free from your own judgement.

Persist gently

Just as it has taken a long time for us to develop our postural, mental, emotional and respiratory habits, cultivating the skill of being with what is, like cultivating anything that is valuable, will take time. The best approach is to persist gently, without any strain or struggle, at a pace that we can handle. One of the most valuable aspects of the practice is the capacity to keep coming back to this moment again and again.

Enjoy the effects

No meditation practice is wasted, even if it seems like we were constantly distracted throughout the whole session. Learning to validate our experience can free us to enjoy developing a more intimate and meaningful relationship with ourselves. Our experience is valid because we are having it, even if it doesn’t go according to our expectations. Enjoying the process, and its effects, is a good way to keep generating a positive change towards clarity and inner peace.

Repeat often

Look at any person who is good at something, it is highly unlikely that they developed all their skills overnight. Actually, what we will find is that increased quality results from persisting again and again in a systematic, conscious and deliberate way over a long period of time. So keep trying to dedicate a little bit of time to meditate as often as it is possible and with a gentle and friendly attitude towards ourselves and towards the whole process.

Put it into practice

Below is a 7 minute video that offers you a clear focal point to put these ideas into practice. Be curious to notice what happens if you try this exercise every day for one week or longer. Enjoy!

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Introduction to Meditation in 5 minutes

 

 

When we define meditation as being with what is, what we mean is that we try to cultivate our ability to be present with what is happening. This exercise invites you to focus your attention on the video and to stay with the experience. It is quite possible that some part of you may start narrating what is happening or commenting on what you see. In either case just return to noticing what you are seeing. If your mind starts going into other times and places by remembering or planning, just keep returning to the video without judgement. Notice whatever happens and consider welcoming whatever is unfolding.

Be curious to notice what happens if you try this exercise every day for one week or longer.

I hope you find this exercise useful.

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén