Winter Solstice and the Guru Bead

Winter Solstice Guru BeadThe winter solstice marks the shortest and darkest day of the year. After December 21st the daylight increases but for a few days the sun’s high point appears to stand still before changing direction. Within this stillness a powerful change is taking place. The winter solstice is a time for reflecting on the past before beginning the next cycle.

With all of the parties, projects and presents calling our attention we may resist the urge to turn our focus inward. But setting aside time for reflection helps us clarify what we hope to create in the coming year. The winter solstice can be a time for grieving as well as celebrating past memories. It can be a time of gratitude for our accomplishments and identifying the lessons of our mistakes.

If we can be gentle with ourselves we’ll be able to move through this process with ease. A time of reflection is an opportunity to be lovingly honest with ourselves. Opening our hearts to the past can help us release old patterns that may no longer be serving us. The solstice presents us with a valuable opportunity to connect with our inner teacher.

On a personal note, this is my 109th blog post. The number 109 has a special significance. A Japa mala is a string of prayer beads that is used for meditation. The most common malas have 108 beads. 108 is a sacred number in Hinduism and Buddhism. Almost all malas have a large bead at the end called the Guru bead. This extra bead is also called the Mother or Seva bead.

When using a mala a practitioner holds each bead as they recite a prayer or mantra. This practice helps to build tapas, the alchemical or purifying heat of transformation. Once a practitioner reaches the Guru bead they reverse direction.

The Guru bead serves as a reminder of the sacred connection between a teacher and a student. It is considered to be disrespectful to pass over this bead. The Guru bead reflects the awareness that we should bring to every aspect of our lives and the value of contemplating the intention of our meditations.

As I’ve reached the Guru bead of my writing meditations I’ve been going back and updating articles from the past four years. I recently started learning about SEO and have been applying this technology to my website. This time of reflection is helping me prepare for the next evolution of the Mind Body Mandala. You can find the fruits of my labors on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a peaceful New Year!

Emily Seymour Yoga Guru Bead Reflections

 

More Taoist Travel Tips

More Taoist Travel Tips

I’ve just had one of those full-tilt travel days – the kind of day when there’s no time to eat and lollygaggers seem to be EVERYWHERE. The sounds, smells and sensations of the city have been noticeably intense. It wasn’t possible to do my home practice but I did have an opportunity to practice off the mat. Here are a few more of my Taoist Travel tips.

Internal Arts

At times like these it’s easy to get stressed out but frustration would only add to the challenge. So I try to view days like today like they’re a game. Shifting my perspective helps to streamline things and makes these challenging experiences more enjoyable.

Next time you’re in a situation where you can’t do your daily asana practice you might try visualizing yourself going through your sequence. You could also try listening to a recording of a guided meditation. Some people find that having something tangible helps them stay focused and will use a mala to practice mantras in silence.

Foot Washing

Another Taoist Travel Tip is to clean your feet after you arrive at your destination. Washing off the dust of the road and putting on a clean pair of socks is a simple yet effective way to renew yourself after a long day. Physically, the act of cleaning your feet relaxes your whole body. Foot washing also helps to clear out any energetic “muck” that you might have picked up along the way.

Last but not least, it’s always good to keep a sense of humor. Keep an eye out for something that makes you laugh. Even if it means that you’re the only one laughing at your jokes – just keep going with it. When the going gets tough a good laugh will lift your spirits and fill your sails.

Do you meditate when you’re on the road? What techniques do you use? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.