Day 10 – breathing in 1:2 ratio

This morning I am building on the diaphragmatic breath and using a 1:2 ratio. After brushing my teeth, I sit on the spare bed in my brother’s house and close my eyes, using my hands to find slow diaphragmatic breathing. I start to count the inhale for a count of three and the exhale for a count of six. After five or six rounds, my breath is slowing down and I can inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. I continue breathing this way for a bit and realise that my stomach is churning for some reason. I keep breathing but notice soon that my head is hurting. I can’t figure out why but before long I have a full blown head ache and my stomach is feeling a bit ill. I am wondering if it was the late night cheese snack I had and after a few more minutes I decide to stop fighting against my body and just lie down. It has only been 13 minutes.

I lie down flat on my back with my palms open in Savasana. I quickly feel better and find myself automatically returning to the breath count, inhale four, exhale eight. I feel my mind relax but not so much that I am sleeping and my head ache quickly dissolves and my stomach starts to settle. I continue breathing this way in an entirely relaxed yet aware state for another half an hour.

It could be argued that what I am actually doing is not meditation at all but closer to snoozing since I am still lying down on a mattress. Many meditation teachers have told me that sitting up is best as it keeps the mind more alert and lying down may cause you to fall asleep. In my experience, if you need to sleep then it will always take priority over meditation and if that is the case then you should just sleep. I used to chronically fall asleep in my teacher training during Yoga Nidra since we always practiced lying down so my teacher suggested I keep one arm up and as I would drift off, the arm would fall, bringing me back into my body. This quickly taught me to stay awake when listening to guided meditation and is an easy technique to use if you are worried about sleeping. I don’t like to think that there is any “wrong” way to meditate. If you feel sick, suffer pain in a sitting position or simply feel like you can’t sit comfortably without getting easily distracted then why not lie down? If you fall asleep, then you probably need it. If I can lie down and be aware of the long deep diaphragmatic breathing, counting the inhales and exhales for half an hour then who is to say that this is not meditation? In fact, it is rather enjoyable! I certainly feel the same sense of clarity and freshness when I finish and although I prefer to meditate sitting up more often than not, I don’t think lying down should be considered a “cop-out”, a cheat or lazy meditation. As they say on, “better to meditate lying down than not at all”!

(Meditation Oasis is a great resource for information, guided meditation podcasts and they even have an iPhone application. I will be exploring the many guided meditations available later in the year as I have been collecting podcasts and recordings from various sources.)

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