I started the physical practice of yoga as a way to stay in shape. But over time the work for me has become much more about the mechanics of the mind than of the body. My struggles are many, but one of my biggest is chronic anxiety. I’ve lived with it for most of my life. It is a condition that at times has left me paralyzed and almost completely nonfunctional. I tried therapy and drugs with little success. Meditation is what worked.
For more on Alex's struggle with anxiety, read Patanjali Never Said Fancy Poses Are a Yoga Practice
The meditation I do is Buddhist Mindful Meditation. It was the first way to practice meditation that made sense to me. It wasn’t about clearing your thoughts away. It was about acknowledging that they exist but learning to ignore them. When I learned to ignore them, I could see how damaging and pointless most of what was up there was. It's a long road and it takes effort, but that’s what it’s all about!
I do this meditation daily and for at least 20 minutes but oftentimes longer. That’s a lot to start, begin with 5 minutes daily. Commit to it and as it becomes a routine, add more time. It takes commitment and tremendous effort, but I promise, it’s worth it and it changed my life.
1. Position your body comfortably.
There is no right or wrong: seated in a chair, on a cushion, or even lying down if you find that easier to hold still.
2. Hold still to the best of your ability.
If you must shift, be kind to yourself and shift, but there is a lot to learn from simply learning to be slightly uncomfortable and nonreactive.
3. Be the witness of your breath.
Know that you are breathing in, know that you are breathing out. When anything distracts you, no matter how far off-track you’ve gotten, simply guide yourself back to the breath. Kindly, gently, over and over.
About Our Expert
Southern California’s Alexandria Crow is a teacher and teacher trainer who offers vinyasa flow classes with methodical and challenging sequences that encourage mindful attention. Besides her work inside the pages of Yoga Journal as a model and writer, she’s appeared inYoga Journal’s Fitness Challenge and Total Body Yoga DVDs, as well as Hard Tail Forever’s ad campaigns.