The following meditation, when done regularly, brings self-esteem, self-love, and self-healing into the body. You can do it sitting down, but I suggest lying down with some support under your spine, such as a folded blanket or a bolster. I find that the heart can heal easier when it feels the earth below holding it and softening it.
Close your eyes and let your body relax and settle into its connection to the earth. Feel that you are in a nurturing, soothing place, and that you are fully safe to relax. For a few minutes, notice the simple miracle of your breath. The inhale raises the navel center away from you, without you trying, and the exhale lowers the belly back onto you. Again, try not to try. Simply watch your belly as you become more and more relaxed.
Now, begin to smooth and even out the breath. Take a few minutes to get the inhale and exhale as smooth and even as possible. The more relaxed you become, the subtler the breath may become. Now begin to quietly witness the sensation of your breath as it enters into the nostrils and then leaves the nostrils. Do this for a few minutes. Thoughts may rise and fall. The idea is not to empty out the mind, but to watch its contents with a sense of non-attachment.
Now begin to watch the same air rise from the tip of your nostrils to the middle of your brain. Relax and visualize a line of light, or feel the energy that rides alongside the breath entering the nostrils, touching the middle of your brain, and leaving as you exhale. Visualize this light of breath as a golden elixir, connecting you to the innate energy of the Divine One. After a while, you may feel this light in your mid-brain as a pulse or a vibration that wants to expand and love you. Allow this golden elixir to move down your body slowly to your heart -- the center of your chest, about four or five inches below your collarbone. You can even place your hand on your heart, if it helps you connect to this center of love and spiritual insight.
As you breathe in again, feel this light move from your midbrain to your heart; as you breathe out, feel your breath permeate your heart with presence, dissolving and resolving any stuck energy there. As you breathe in, sense a golden, honey-like light drawing from the midbrain into the space of your heart. As you breathe out, see this golden elixir seating itself in the very center of your heart. Keep repeating. With every inhale, lovingly pull this honey-light from the midbrain to the heart, and as you exhale, seat this light in the center of your body at the level of the heart.
As you continue with this visualization, you may notice that there are some spots in your chest that feel sadness, pain, stickiness, tightness, loneliness, anger, or any other sensation or emotion that is not vast and loving. When you find these spots, you can see them as blockages sitting on the vast open field of your heart. Let your awareness stay in these spots, and keep breathing in the golden light, allowing your attention and love to penetrate the dark corners of your heart. Remember, energy follows focus. The more you can soften into love and send your focus to the stickiness, the greater the chance that the blockage can dissolve and resolve itself. Keep moving your awareness through the visualization, and allowing the energy to open and disperse any blocks in the heart.
Finally, there may come a moment when the heart is just so full of light and openness that you can abandon the technique and simply enjoy breathing into the new space of the heart. Now would be a good time to begin to chant a mantra into the energetic heart connection you have created. To come out of the meditation, simply deepen your breath, offering gratitude for the practice. Slowly begin to move your body and come back.
Adapted from Katie Silcox’s new book, Healthy, Happy, Sexy - Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women.
Katie Silcox is the author of "Healthy, Happy, Sexy - Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women." She's a vinyasa yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, contributor to Yoga Journal, and a senior teacher within the Sri-Vidya ParaYoga lineage under Yogarupa Rod Stryker.