Meditate like Emma Watson

Recently my friend Mirjam invited me to celebrate her birthday with 14 of her closest friends in a 200 year old French Manor in Lure, France. The weekend was filled with explorations, good food and wine, and yoga of course!

Weekend getaway to Lure, France for Mirjam's birthday!

Weekend getaway to Lure, France for Mirjam’s birthday!

Mirjam also writes for the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger. Recently she wrote an article titled Meditate like Emma Watson. Mirjam included a quote from me in the article describing mindful sharing! For those of us who don’t read German, I was quoted saying ” Mindful sharing is different from retelling a story because you try to observe what happened objectively.”

I mentioned this article to a yogi friend who asked me what I meant by “mindful sharing”. I thought that was a funny question because most yogis I know live in a constant state of mindful sharing. Our practice humbles us to accept what we cannot change– a way of thinking that influences our everyday relationships and communication.

After a birthday weekend of fun, we relaxed & stretched before returning to Zurich.

After a birthday weekend of fun, we relaxed & stretched before returning to Zurich.

Reflection

A moment of reflection in La Colline Notre-Dame du Haut bulit by Swiss architect Le Corbusier.

Happy Birthday Mirjam and thanks for my second quote in Tages Anzeiger!

(The first one advised people to not wear pajamas during Skype interviews!)

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React or Listen? My Time in Israel and Palestine

Yoga and meditation helps ground and unite us when the world around us seems to be falling apart. Here I am with my friend Hadeel in Ramallah, Palestine on the first day of Eid.

Yoga and meditation helps ground and unite us when the world around us seems to be falling apart.
Here I am with my friend Hadeel in Ramallah, Palestine on the first day of Eid.

 

Yoga reminds us we are humans.

Whether in asana or meditation, we are reminded of life’s impermanence.  We are confronted with emotions and questions we otherwise push aside.

In general, travel also teaches you these lessons. In travel, like yoga, one must push aside selfishness, doubt, and judgements and replace them with openness and patience.

Maybe I have not been doing Asanas every day since arriving in Israel and Palestine, but I have been practicing yoga.

BKS Iyengar reminds us that “The light that yoga sheds on life is something special. It is transformative. It does not just change the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees. It brings knowledge and elevates it to wisdom.”

I arrived in Tel Aviv the day before the military operations in Gaza started. Being here is much, much different from what you see on TV. This operation has exceeded 30 days and has cost almost 2,000 lives, 400 of which were children.

I realized within my first few days in Israel I had a choice: to react or to listen. As vipasana and yoga teach, I realized I learn a lot more if I listen.

So I spent three weeks in Israel and three in Palestine, meeting people and learning their stories. Like we do on the mat, I listen not to draw conclusions or judgements but to take them away. I listen not to learn about them, but to learn about myself, and who we are as humans.

Peeling off layers can be a difficult process.  But if we can find patience for ourselves and our own faults then we are better able to face our neighbor, our world.

What I learned about Yoga through Vipassana

Throughout the meditation course I found many similarities between meditation and yoga:

1. Work, Practice:

You wont see results (mental or physical) if you don’t, period. Roll out your mat, find a quiet place to focus on your breath, do it when you don’t want to. You’ll never regret it.

2. Patience, Persistence:

Yoga, meditation, and life…so many things can seem too hard, too impossible. You’re ready to quit before starting. Don’t. Keep up the work, you will see results—and the funny thing is you have no idea what they will be for you.

3. This too shall change: Impermanence:

In our meditation practice we were instructed to experience sensations in our bodies and not react to them. When we observed these sensations, we realize they eventually pass away or another sensation crops up taking our awareness off the first sensation. The same is true with our yoga practice, we may struggle with Pose A but it’s always followed by Pose B, followed by Pose C, etc. In our practice and our life, change is the only constant. It’s helpful to intellectually know this but to understand it we must experience the sensation and then let it go.

Yoga, unlike meditation, is a physical practice. One should experience sensations during yoga but determining when and how to react to them is up to us as individuals. Some sensations in yoga should be reacted to (like intense pain!).

4. Gross to Subtle:

I first heard this terminology from Peg of Ashtanga Dispatch during teacher training. It was refreshing to come back to the concept when practicing Vipassana, which focuses on narrowing body sensations from the gross (feeling hot/cold or the touch of your clothes) to the subtle (which for me feels like prana). Thankfully because of my yoga practice, I was able to connect with these subtle sensations quickly—the hard part was not reacting to them!

5. Mind over Matter:

The asana isn’t the hardest part—whether it’s a yoga pose or sitting for meditation. The physical body’s work is easier than training your mind to overcome the voices craving more of one sensation or degrading our ability which prevents us to discover new edges in our practice. When we can overcome our egos we can deepen our practice, automatically improving our lives off the mat.