In need of a mini-retreat but no vacation in sight? Take 40 minutes out of your day to try the following restorative sequence for a guided practice of intention, acceptance and gratitude. You will emerge refreshed and battle-ready. The practice requires a rectangular bolster or 2-3 thick, but firm, blankets, and 1-2 blocks or additional firm bolster or folded blanket.
Reclined, Supported Easy Sit or Reclined, Supported Cobbler
Place your bolster lengthwise on your mat supporting the top underneath with a block such that you have an inclined surface to lean back on (alternately fold 2-3 blankets into a 3-tier surface) Sitting in Easy Sit or bound angle with the support directly behind your sacrum, recline. Support your head and neck as necessary. Open your arms out to the side, palms up, and support your thighs / knees if you would can.
Settling into a Restorative:
Notice your breath…
Notice your thoughts…
Slowly become effortless…
If you have discomfort, briefly practice accepting it. Breathe into the area of concern as if there were nostrils there, breathe out to release, relax, and accept.
Now notice if the discomfort has lessened or if another body part has called your attention.
Repeat this process wherever your attention is drawn up to 3 cycles of 3 breaths.
Check-in: If you are still uncomfortable, change your support or position to one of impeccable ease.
Surrender to the sound of your breath. Surrender to the sound of your heartbeat. Feeling yourself fully grounded and supported, open your heart to the possibilities of change.
If you have an intention you are working with, first imagine this intention completely fulfilled. Experience what it feels like to have achieved your intention. Allow yourself to experience the physical feeling of living in this intention…the emotional feeling…the mental feeling…
If you do not have an intention, please concentrate on what it is you wish to receive from this practice. If your intention is purely physical – imagine how that physical state could be described emotionally and / or mentally. It can also be helpful to remember a time when you felt particularly positive about yourself and your life. Describe that feeling as your intention – “I am…”. Move away from the intentions which originate from the negative state you feel caught in and focus on the feeling of having already achieved a more positive state.
Mentally, Repeat your intention 3 times with certainty and conviction.
Releasing a Restorative:
Come back to your breath. Breathe gently and count: Inhale, 10; Exhale, 9…Exhale 1. Now wiggle your toes and fingers and gently return yourself to a comfortable seated posture.
Supported Childs Pose
From a kneeling position, hug a bolster between your thighs (alternately, fold a blanket and place it in the crease of your hips). Fold forward to place your head on your mat, a block or pillow or simply fold your hands into a pillow for support. Make sure you have some support in contact with your abdomen and that your forehead is supported. Return to the bulleted “Settling into a Restorative” instructions above.
Feel yourself in a place of complete safety. A place of positive and nurturing energy. You may even recall a former retreat, a favorite meditation spot, the arms of a loved one or imagine the comfort of a womb. Allow your breath to be effortless, flowing over you and through you. Rather than breathing allow yourself to be breathed as if you are receiving the breath from your support. With each exhale, feel the release of all that restricts the effortless flow of your breath as if it is water flowing over a boulder in a stream. Let responsibilities and thoughts roll by without engaging them. Retreat inside and allow yourself to smile at the wonder of how deep you actually are.
When you are ready, return to the “Releasing a Restorative” instructions above.
Sit on a bolster (or alternately two folded, stacked blankets) such that your shoulders and head rest firmly on the floor. Place your arms out by your sides and turn your palms upward. Allow your throat to be partially closed and constricted. Place your feet a block(s), pillow or folded blanket about the same height as your hips. Modification: If this posture proves difficult for your spine you can simply lie in a hook-lying position with knees bent and lift your hips up placing a block or bolster under the pelvis and sacrum, feet wide and knees knocked together. Return to the bulleted “Settling into a Restorative” instructions above.
Bring your awareness to the back of the head, directly behind the space in between your eyebrows. Feel the support of the mat and floor beneath this spot. Breath directly in and out of this spot feeling grounded. Release any incoming thoughts with each exhalation. Swallow and secure the back of the neck to the floor without losing the sense of effortlessness you have cultivated. Focus on where you are right now, physically…emotionally…mentally…Know the truth that you are already exactly where you need to be. Feel gratitude for where you are. Mentally, state your intention 3 times.
Now focus on your feet. Feel them as far away but connected and grounded. Imagine that you can breathe in through your feet out through the crown of your head. Continue effortlessly, simply observing the flow – in through your feet, out through the crown of your head 6-10 breaths. Now turn your attention to your open chest and shoulders, your heart opening. Breathe in through your feet, out through your heart. Repeat 6-10 times. Focus on the support along your spine from sacrum upwards towards your solar plexus. Know you are fully grounded from head to toe, fully supported on your path from where you are now to where you wish to be. Know that you already have the foundation and tools to bridge the divide, the gap between what you are and what you wish to be. What is the thread that secures you the one that you follow as you move forward AND as you retreat. Repeat your intention 3 times with conviction.
When you are ready, return to the bulleted instructions “Releasing from a Restorative”.
Lie down on your back with a pillow or blanket under your knees and possibly a support for your head. Follow the bulleted instructions on “Settling into a Restorative”.
Become effortless. Smile. Receive. Stay as long as you like. Emerge slowly and return to your life but don’t forget to take your sharp, new weapons off the mat and back into your life.
Rage on Warriors! I will look for you on the battlefield.