I had an extremely alarming early-morning experience a few weeks ago. I woke up in savasana (yoga-speak for 'corpse pose': laying prone, legs splayed, arms at my sides, palms facing up), with my Morihata charcoal sleep mask intact, and—here’s the especially crazy part—before my alarm clock went off. I felt refreshed, ready to get up, and, for the first time before a highly concentrated cup of coffee, awake.
Allow me to paint a picture of the scenario I’ve woken up to for twenty-odd years: asymmetrically twisted in sheets, sleep mask long gone, an hour-plus into “snoozing” my alarm, and groggily getting out of bed when I’m certain that if I sleep a minute longer, I’ll be fired. Oh, and unable to form full sentences until about an hour later when the coffee really kicks in.
So… what the hell was happening? Well, I meditated before I fell asleep. Yes, I went there! And it’s not as hippie-dippy as it sounds. After listening to Rolf Sovik’s downloadable Advanced Yoga Relaxation, wherein he verrrrry slowwwllly talks you through drawing your focus to your breath, and then relaxing each finger, toe, joint, facial feature, etc. individually for fifteen minutes, it was like someone had hit the mute button on my never-ending internal dialogue. And, with my mind quiet(er), and body relaxed, I fell into some serious REM-cycle sleep.
When I told the Gloffice about said experience, they all wanted in. All you have to do is listen to a meditation podcast? Sort of. I figured I should share my experience with all of you, too. Because stress never looks good on anyone.
I called up the Himalayan Institute and Yoga International’s treasured meditation guide, Rolf Sovik, who, after hearing how I'd woken up so peacefully, laughed and said, “Of course! Imagine what your body would be like if you didn’t shower for two weeks.” Just as that riveting image was imprinted on my brain, he drove home the point: “You need to cleanse your mind,” he said. “And you can do it anywhere.”
Without further ado, Rolf’s theory on the importance and simplicity of mental cleansing, and an exclusive five-minute meditation from Rolf for ITG readers to do on the train/in a cab/at your desk/in your bed/wherever:
Relax: “It sometimes seems odd that we must learn to relax, but the stresses of daily life can make us lose touch with ourselves. Systematic training makes it possible to rediscover your natural qualities of peacefulness and poise, and to feel confident in your inner-self.”
Don’t Worry, Be Healthy: “A high percentage of doctor visits—some think as much as 70%—have a stress-related component. We don’t need to frighten ourselves about our health, but it is very helpful to use a small amount of time each day to calm our nervous system, gather our mental energies, and experience a period of peacefulness. Through relaxation and meditation we can remain inwardly connected and stable. The cost is minimal, and the benefits are enormous!”
Anytime, Anyplace: “The simplest and most powerful method for calming down in a cab or even in your chair at a meeting is to bring your awareness to your breath. Relaxation begins with breath awareness. Breath after breath, each exhalation releases tension while each inhalation nourishes you. With practice, you can learn to soften tensions by resting your mind on the effortless flow of your breathing. Then, stress and negative emotion pass through you with less intensity. In this way, going from a six to a three or four on your internal stress-scale can feel like a major improvement.”
You guys are looking better already. Next time you can’t fall asleep, can’t catch a break, or just want to hit refresh, take a deep breath, and give our meditation a listen:
**[Ed. note: Rolf’s natural speaking voice sounds exactly like this.]
Image from Gisele's Instagram.