Planting Seeds: Breath and Meditation for Turbulent Times Week 4

Note from Tracy: Recent news articles and social media threads inspired me to create and teach a yoga series at Whole Life Yoga called Yoga for Turbulent TimesFor those of you not near Seattle, I’ve decided to share the breath practices and meditations from this class as I teach them. I hope you find them useful.  The practice below is from week 4 of the series.

“The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” Jack Kornfield

What we pay attention to in our lives grows. If we allow resentment to plant in our heart, we will become resentful. If we invite peace, we will become calm. If we invite compassion, we will become kind.  What do you want to cultivate in your life’s garden?  The breath and meditation practices below can make whatever you plant flourish.

Alternate Nostril Exhale Breathing

Note:  This breath practice is a little complex, but it is wonderfully calming, focusing, and balancing to the nervous system. It’s not my first choice for use in a business meeting, but funny-looking or not, it is amazingly effective!

  1. Lengthen your inhale and exhale, focusing on a long, smooth, flowing exhale.
  2. After several breaths at that lengthened breath, begin the alternate nostril exhale technique described below.
    • Raise your right hand, folding down your index and middle finger, as in the above photo.
    • Inhale freely through both nostrils.
    • Seal your right nostril at the bottom of the nostril flap with your right thumb. Partially valve the left nostril with your ring finger near the cartilage.
    • Exhale through the partially valved left nostril.
    • Inhale through both nostrils
    • Repeat the partially valved exhale, this time exhaling through the right nostril. Seal the left nostril with your ring finger and partially valve the right nostril with your thumb.
    • Inhale again through both nostrils.
  3. Repeat this nostril breathing technique for 5 or more minutes. Always finish by exhaling through the partially valved right nostril.
  4. Release the nostril technique and take a few lengthened breaths through both nostrils.
  5. When you are ready, return your breath to a normal rhythm. Carry the energy of this breath practice to meditation.

Note: If you notice breathlessness, anxiety, or strain at any time, reduce the lengths of the inhale and exhale or release the nostril technique. Do not use this technique if your nostrils are congested.

Planting Seeds Meditation

  1. Come to a comfortable seated or lying position.
  2. Allow your eyes to close. Notice your breath without intentionally trying to change it.  Bring your attention to the warmth and coolness of the breath at the tip of your nostrils.
  3. When you are ready, bring to mind something you’d like to grow in your life. Examples include joy, abundance, calm, and creativity. Anything that feels right to you is fine.
  4. Imagine that quality as a seed. You can even write the name of that quality on the seed, as if you were engraving words on a tiny piece of rice.  Plant that seed in your heart and feel the energy of that seed inside you.
  5. Imagine that, with each breath,  the seed begins to take root in tiny slivers of light. The light carries that quality to every cell within you. As you continue to breathe, the intention grows, blooms, and bears fruit. Eventually it reseeds itself in the community around you.
  6. Continue this meditation for 10 minutes or longer if you’d like.

May the seeds you plant in this life all be worthy of cultivating!

Tracy Weber

My newest Downward Dog Mystery, Pre-Meditated Murder is available now  in e-book and paper back copies everywhere! Check this link for some local ideas.

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