Day 150 – bite the cake!

It is my nephew’s fourth birthday so I know I am going to have to battle my desire for sugar today. I decide I need to try a meditation I got from a friend at the ashram in Rishikesh. She had heard I was collecting meditations so she gave me this one to try by Yogi Bhajan:

Beggar’s Meditation

Yogi Bhajan 5/15/73

‘Sit straight in easy pose. Make a cup with the hands by putting the right hand over the left. The fingers will cross each other. Put this open cup at the level of the heart centre. The eyes look only into this cup. Begin the pranayama by inhaling deeply through the nose. Exhale through the puckered mouth. The exhale is as if you spit the air into the palms, but it is a dry, long spitting motion of the air. Meditate on inhaling a particular desire and spit it into the cup with the breath through the mouth. Pick a single strong desire and focus only on that desire throughout the meditation. It will calm and fulfil this desire. Concentrate and imagine, “Whatever you need at this time, no matter how dirty or sublime that desire is.” Continue for 11 minutes.

‘There is a whole technology and science of self-hypnosis that can change the pattern of thought flow in a person. A desire is an energy pattern. Some desires stay with us a long time and are not just physiological needs. Whatever the desire is, it needs to manifest or transform on some level of your being. Until it does, it is maintained by a self-hypnosis pattern. This meditation works on the pranic energy in the aura and changes a particular area of the brain. The brain area is called the “conflict personality area”. It is located at the back of the head, 1/3 of the way up from the base of the skull and 2/3 of the way back down from the hairline. At this point, there is a place under the solar centres that can work out and manifest the desires. Yogi Bhajan said that there are blocks of desire in the personality, which are “itchy” and persistent and “they sit in the heart of the person. But if you put the hand in the heart, you will never find them. They are in the 1/3, 2/3 are of the brain.” The meditation is the technology to deal with desire. It is a trance-like meditation once you master it. It removes the block of too much desire so you can manifest yourself.’

So when I walk in the door of my brother’s house, my nephew shows me four fingers and says, “I’m not little anymore, I’m this many now!” I managed to survive the whole of yesterday without chocolate and I can feel the latent desires arise as I am drawn straight to the cake being covered in bright blue icing. I end up taking way too many photos of this amazing cake, but I am grateful I had so much for breakfast because I don’t actually feel like eating any… yet. While my brother sets up the impossible tricycle, my mum starts a game of pamba. Basically she just starts bashing people with balloons until we are all involved in this balloon brawl. It ends up being the only game that doesn’t involve food. We are Mexican, so obviously, there is a piñata, out of which lollies rain. I don’t even like lollies but I make the conscious decision to just have one, since it is a 4th birthday, so I pick the strawberries and cream. Finally, my brother sets up a string for the donut game. He ties donuts to the string and we have to eat as much as we can with our hands behind our backs. I pretend to have a go, not really wanting any but then the donut swings into my mouth and a crumb of glaze gets lodged on the edge of my tooth. Oh no, I can feel myself tumbling off the wagon. My pupils dilate and suddenly the string is taken away and I go running after it, practically kicking and screaming. My niece is trying the same tactic, but has already had enough sugar for the night and so she leaves he kitchen with her head hanging low. I would feel bad for her, but is better at that game so she ate half her donut anyway. I walk casually over to the box and eat half a glazed donut. At least it isn’t chocolate… but no, then a bite of chocolate covered donut ends up in my mouth just as my niece walks over like an avatar of divine authority and wags her finger at me, the other hand on her hip, “No, no no! Tia (aunty) is having a donut!” I slink away, wiping glazed sugar from my mouth. At cake time, we have this tradition where you bite the cake and be careful of my brother trying to push your face into it. My poor, sweet, innocent little nephew doesn’t know any better yet so he ends up with icing in his eye as his own dad drowns him in the blue sugar. I politely decline but then my legs have a change of heart. They follow the cake to the kitchen and then my hands join in the rebellion and grab a tiny sliver of a piece. In a final act of defiance against my will power, my mouth succumbs to this bite of cake and I know that this desire (addiction) for sugar is going to take more than 11 minutes to kick.

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Day 17 – square breathing

I wake up at 4.30am with serious anxiety. I write an email, call my cousin, consider yoga and meditation… But my cousin says, “No, I’m more important.” I laugh with her and she seriously calms me down with some good giggles- it is truly the best medicine. We talk about this blog, about how different I seem from Day 1 to Day 10 to Day 16… About my conflict about alcohol. I tell her that I want this to be honest- about the everyman struggle we have between the modern life and a meditation practice. I also admit that this anxiety, under normal circumstances would make me cry, tear my hair out, possibly knock the hats off of random strangers in the street… Sometimes I look at myself and wonder how the hell I am not falling apart. But at the moment the only way I know I am experiencing anxiety is because of the nausea I feel after I eat anything that isn’t raw fruit or vegetable. If it were not for this meditation practice, my personal issues would be swallowing me whole. This is seriously the best I have felt in my whole life. And I have no other explanation except that I am meditating every day… Life may change, curveballs may be thrown directly at my head and the forks in the road could stab me in the eyes, but as long as I can sit and meditate, I seem to maintain an amazing sense of clarity that even my friends and family are gobsmacked about. Yogi Bhajan wrote, “Meditation is not what you do in the morning, that’s practice. Meditation is the daily result of that practice.”

So today I am doing the last of my pranayama meditations; square Breathing. The four parts of the breath are:

1) Pooraka, inhalation

2) Rechaka, exhalation

3) Antar kumbhaka, internal breath retention

4) Bahir kumbhaka, external breath retention

The square breath is easy enough and very balancing. It requires focus and patience. After an hour of yoga in which my mind was jumping back and forth from the massive list of things to do before I fly to Bali tomorrow. This list was open next to the mat as I practiced and I was adding to it between poses.

After a restless savasana, I sit up and immediately feel myself calm, like my body was just waiting for the seated pose to slip into this space. I inhale for five, exhale for five. I add a pause at the top of the inhale and at the bottom of the exhale. I inhale for five, retain for two, exhale for five, retain for two. I progress the retention one count per breath until I reach an even inhale five, retain five, exhale five, retain five. The breath is following an even square. Each breath I gently increase by one count until I reach inhale ten, retain ten, exhale ten, retain ten. I maintain this square breath for about five minutes and find it easier than the 1:4:2 or even the 1:2 ratio. I slowly reduce the breath by one count each breath until the square is 5:5:5:5. I slowly back down the retentions until my inhale is an even five inhale and five exhale.

That was the last of my pranayama meditation techniques for now. Breath is central to Yoga because it is central to life… and Yoga is about life. T. Krishnamacharya. Tomorrow I will start to explore mantra meditation.

I sit for a few more minutes until that list is practically yelling at me and then finally get up to do a bajillion things. After the chemist, post office, bank, seafood, some heavy lifting, a swim, and five currencies later, I sit down and realise I could fall asleep. Watching the Big Bang Theory, Raj is showing Sheldon an “ancient Indian meditation practice”. He has candles, incense and classical Indian music. In the end, he walks out on Sheldon’s wild imagination of the intellectual who can not stop the mind. It may be a skit, but it does accurately reflect the struggle between the mind and the spirit. Ultimately, the mind, Sheldon, is left alone and the spirit, Raj, leaves the room. Makes sense to me.