Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude Yantras for Thanksgiving

I led an Art/Yoga Fusion Workshop last weekend titled "Gratitude Yantra for Thanksgiving."

We began with a yoga practice for gratitude. Lots of forward Bends. Poses with hands in prayer/anjali mudra/namaste. Poses like modified Sun Salutations, Pyramid, Warrior 2, Humble Warrior, Revolved Side Angle, Prayer Twist, Forward Fold with Arms in Reverse Prayer, etc...

I then led a guided meditation based on one from the Chopra Center.

I set up the meditation with tools I learned in Yoga Nidra training like Internalization and Breathing and then moved to this Chopra Center meditation.  I had people say mentally "I am grateful"

Positions for Gratitude Meditation: Shavasana – if this is not comfortable pillow under head or or back hurts bend knees or put pillow or blanket under knees, lying on side if you are pregnant, Sitting in a chair, on the floor back to the wall. You might want a blanket because the body temperature tends to drop in Yoga Nidra. Also put a blanket under any area that is sensitive. Try to be aligned, symmetrical from feet to head. Feel your spine aligned. In shavansasana, arms away from sides palm up or down.  If anything is on you tight like glasses or a wrist watch you can take it off.  Eyes should be closed to avoid visual distraction. .  Say to yourself mentally “I am grateful”

(Relaxation): Take a full breath in with the exhalation think "thank you". Do this 2 more times…. Become aware of your body lying on the floor, on the chair or against the wall. Feel supported across the whole body. Feel the feet supported, Feel arms and hands supported, feel the legs supported, feel the shoulders and head supported. Feel every place where your body is supported to allow yourself to release more deeply into Gratitude.  Let go of all effort of holding the body.  

For a short time notice the rhythm of the breath. Now, extend the awareness outward listening for sounds in all directions.

Be aware of distant sounds.  . . sounds outside the room . . . sounds inside the room . .. sounds of the body… Become aware of the sound of your breath. In this meditation, it is best if the body remains still.  If you become uncomfortable you may move but come back to stillness as soon as you can.  Say to yourself mentally “I am practicing Gratitude."

Think about something in your life you are very grateful for, think about where you can feel that in your body

Bring awareness to things in your life that you are worthy of Gratitude.

Let thankfulness flow through the whole body.

And as it does sink into the feeling of Gratitude.

Surrender to it.

Notice how gratitude feels in the body.

Invite the sensation of Thanksgiving throughout the entire body.

Scan through all the aspects of life and feel appreciation.

Firstly bring your awareness to the breath, inhale and exhale and the fact that each of these breaths gives you life.

Be aware of the heart beating.  The pulsing.

The heart is filled with love and compassion.

Bring awareness to the eyes.

Eyes that see colors, faces, smiles, nature, the sunrise, the sunset, the rainbow, the moon and the stars, yourself in the mirror.

Bring awareness to the ears,
Ears that beam in sound, music, laughter, the voices of those you love, the silence, the beautiful sounds of life.

Bring awareness to the nose,
The Nose that smells the ocean breeze, the aroma of sweet perfume, the
flowers, the trees, newly cut grass, the wafting smells that come from the kitchen, like a turkey baking or cranberries on the stove.

Bring awareness to the lips and mouth, that tastes and savours and nourishes, kisses and speaks, that whispers, and sings.

Bring  awareness to the hands that hold and touch, and caress, and open and close, and applaud, and squeeze, the arms and shoulders that carry and hug and lift and stretch.

Bring awareness to the feet, the toes, the gift to wiggle them, transport you, walk, run, dangle, dance, kick, fold, leap and point.

Remember the tears, and the sorrows,

Remember the strength that you seem to be able to muster, to make it through each day.

Bring awareness to  abundance,  expansion, evolution, perspective shifts, affluence and flow and empathy and love and light, and the ability to see growth, and potential in every moment.

Breathe and feel more grace, and ease

Experience the warmth, love and compassion that gratitude brings into your heart.

Bring awareness to nurturing relationships in the life, the new ones and the older ones.

Material things that came unexpectedly, things that flow to with great effort and commitment, hard work.

Think of love in life, and the connection to those things that are sweet, and loving and honorable, and just feel right.

Let go of the ego.

No longer take anything in life for granted, become grateful for everything!!!

Breathe and feel this flow.

Externalization: Become aware of your own breathing. Be grateful how the breath sustains us.

Listen for sounds in this room, sounds outside this room. Find the furthest sound that you can hear. Start to remember this room: the walls… the ceiling… the floor.  Remember your place in this room.  Remember what’s in this room with you…  Become aware of your body lying on the floor, (or sitting on the chair, or against the wall)… Notice the weight of your body and all the points where your body is supported…. Extend your attention through your entire body…  Become aware of your entire body from you head to your finger tips…. Become aware of your body extending from your head to your toes…  Be aware of your breath… Become aware of the entire physically body and the breath inside your body…. Consciously make your breath deeper and full… Make your breath deeper. 
… Inhaling and Exhaling deeply… Make your breath very full…. Keep your eyes closed. 

Ask yourself the following questions.

What do I take for granted?
What relationships do I have that I cherish (person, pet, etc.)?
Is there a relationship that fills me that I feel lucky to have?
What freedoms, unique gifts, opportunities do I have that are truly unique to me?
What divine talents have been bestowed on me by the universe?
What advantages have I been given in life?

Who are my backers in life? Who is routing for me? Who are my champions, defenders, supporters, comrades in arms?

Say to yourself "This Gratitude Meditation is Now Complete."

Start moving your body and stretching. Making your movements larger and larger. Inhale your arms over your head. Remembering to be mindful of what’s near you.  Stretch (3) Yawn. Gently roll to a side. (long pause) Open your eyes. Slowly push up to a seated position fully alert and ready to go on with the rest of the workshop.

After we came out of meditation I gave the participants a paper with the same questions on it and asked them to write down the answers.  After they finished I ask them to use the questions in creating their own personal yantra around the issues of gratitude.

Here are some of the Yantras that were made. Some people didn't want me to take pictures.
Linda's Yantra

Danielle's Yantra
Danielle finished her Yantra at home

Angel's Yantra

Ludmila's Yantra

Ninna's Yantra

Rachel's Yantra

Vincelle's Yantra

Bernie's Yantra

I did this at home on Thanksgiving.  I didn't have time at the workshop.

I closed with this meditation, I didn't script it so it went something like but not exactly:

Be grateful for the breath - that breathes us without asking for anything,  Inhaling and Exhaling.

Be thankful for this body that got you up the stairs and into this room for this workshop.

Be appreciative of this community, this sangha that you have practiced gratitude with today.

Be glad for this city, the city of Angels, with its beaches and palms trees, valleys, winding freeways that sometimes don't move.

Thank this country, the United States and this continent North America with its diverse peoples, languages and cultures.

Be in awe of this planet we live on, the big blue marble, the third rock of from the sun.  With its perfect balance of hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen to support life.

Practice an internal Thanksgiving for this solar system and this galaxy filled with twinkling stars,

Be humbled by this universe that contracts and expands like the breath.

Mentally say thank you, thank you, thank you.


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