Whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. What is soft is strong. Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu from WisdomQuotes.com

For beginning Yoga and meditation students one of the  most disconcerting aspects of starting to turn inward to meditate is the shock of just how active and incessant the parade of thoughts is in our mind.  The busy and stressed out mind can seem to be totally out of control  and resist any effort to quiet itself. Buddhists often characterize this as “Monkey Mind” that hops and jumps from one thought to another. Meditation can be seen as a skillful training of the Monkey mind to abide more often and naturally in peaceful stillness.

As with all our work in Yoga and meditation, we can begin to grow in our skill by working  the our-self and our mind where it is at in its busyness and not forcing some difficult feats of focus in the early stages.

The following practice is a basic centering practice; good for a brief time out from stressful situations and a precursor to more advanced breathing(Pranayama) and Meditation practices. It invites us to turn inward and be soft and open as we and follow the inner experience of the sensations of breath as it moves through the body. This allows the  mind to unwind and grow more quiet, rather than forcing any type of one pointed focus before it is ready. As the mind learns to turn inward in this way it often comes to seek the experience and becomes more amenable the deeper focus and meditation practices over time.

The technique:
1.)Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or if needed in a chair. Keep the spine straight, the belly, shoulders relaxed and the chest open.

2.)Place your hands on the knees with the palms facing up in jnana(wisdom) mudra. To form jnana mudra  allow the index finger to lightly touch the the thumb. Keep the face ,and jaw relaxed as you let the tongue rest on the roof of the mouth, just behind the front teeth. Allow the eyes to lightly close.

3.)Draw a long slow deep breath in and out in and out through the nose. Let the inhale start in the belly, expand through the base of the ribs and continue through to the chest.

4.)As the breath slows and deepens, let go of any thoughts or distractions without force, allowing the mind to settle to focus on the breath more fully over time. Feel the breath as it moves in and out of the body, feeling it move through the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs .

5.)Extend the focus all the way through the breath to the transition between the inhale and the exhale, This will help keep the attention more connected to the full breath.  Bring as much of your awareness and attention to the feeling of your body and breath as possible with each moment. It is natural that thoughts will come, simply let them float in the background without grasping at them or pushing them away. If you get lost in thought simply return and stay with the feelings of the feelings of the body and breath. as it moves through.

You can do this for 3-5 minutes and build up the time as you are able.

*This is provided for educational purposes only. Please remain aware that,when practicing any Yoga or meditation technique you accept responsibility for all you do and are responsible for working in accordance with your medical needs and limitations. Read the disclaimer for more information. I encourage you to seek out instruction and guidance from a teacher as you need answer any questions and to ensure the most positive outcome of this and any practice.