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Welcome to the first meditation recording of the Novasutras movement. I’m Dr. Michelle Merrill. In this recording, I’ll be guiding you through a set of meditative practices designed to help you find purpose and clarity. Science shows that a regular meditation practice has important wellness benefits. This can help you to be a more effective, mindful agent for positive change in the world.
There are diverse approaches to meditation, from different traditions, that highlight different paths to a meditative state. For this meditation series, we will follow a technique that keeps the mind engaged and focused, yet calm and observant, while the body relaxes and you cultivate mindfulness.
You are invited to find a comfortable place to sit, free from distractions. Place your hands gently on your knees, so your arms hang comfortably at your sides, with your elbows at a relaxed angle. Once you are sitting comfortably, take a deep breath in. Close your eyes or soften your gaze as you exhale slowly. Inhale slowly through your nose, noticing the feeling of the air moving past your nostrils, down and into your lungs. Allow your chest and belly to move and relax as you exhale, then to expand and rise gently as you inhale, taking slow, comfortable breaths.
As you continue to breathe at a slow and comfortable rate, begin to notice how the top of your head feels. Notice this without judgement, and allow the top of your head to release any tension and relax. Notice your forehead and eyes, and encourage them to relax. Invite your face and jaw to become relaxed and restful. Notice how your tongue feels in your mouth, and release any tension you may be holding there.
Notice the angle of your head and neck. Allow the top of your head to rise slightly as you lengthen your neck very gently, and pull your chin very slightly in and down. Feel the set of your shoulders, then relax them and let them drop gently away from your ears.
Invite the muscles of your upper arms to relax, then release the tension from your lower arms. Now allow your hands to relax completely, releasing any tension in your palms and fingers, and letting your hands rest in a comfortable, slightly curved position on your knees or thighs.
Feel the breath expand in your chest as you straighten your spine and draw your shoulderblades slightly together and invite them drop down your back.
Allow your abdomen to expand as you breathe, relaxing your belly. Feel the gentle curve of your lower spine as you relax the muscles of your lower back and buttocks.
Notice any tension in your thighs or knees, and let the muscles there become relaxed. Allow your calves and ankles to release any tension they are holding. Finally, focus on the sensations in your feet. Invite your feet and toes to come into full relaxation.
Take another slow, deep breath in, and hold it for a moment, savoring the feeling of this breath nourishing your relaxed body. Exhale gently and slowly, inviting any tension remaining in your body to leave with your breath. Repeat this nourishing breath in, hold it briefly, and slowly exhale completely, to fully release tension and cleanse your lungs.
At any time you feel your mind become stressed or wandering in unhelpful directions, remember that you can choose to return to this state of calm relaxation with just a few cleansing breaths.
For now, continue to focus on these ideas and experiences, taking deep, relaxing breaths, as we begin to welcome in two deeply healing aspects of your awareness as a human: what we in the Novasutras movement call ubuntu and agaya.
Ubuntu is the expanding awareness of connection, what has also been called ‘interbeing.’ Consider those people with whom you have experienced connection. Think of people that you love, people that love you, people who at some time have given you a kindness, and people you have treated with compassion.
Now consider other beings, in the more-than-human world, whose presence has enriched your life. Perhaps an animal has been a valued companion, a plant has beautified your home or garden, a tree has shaded you. Perhaps you have nurtured or tended a plant or animal.
Certainly, with every breath in, you take in nourishing oxygen that some plants exhaled, then you exhale carbon dioxide that will nourish other photosynthesizers. All your food was once alive, and that life nourishes you. This is inter-being at its deepest level. This is what we call ubuntu.
Everywhere in the world, these interconnections exist. As you breathe in, allow yourself to feel these connections of ubuntu. As you breathe out, send your gratitude for them along those radiating interconnections.
This gratitude to other beings with whom we share connection is one facet of what we call agaya. Agaya is also the deep sense of wonder we feel when we look at the petals of a flower, when we see a bird fly gracefully overhead, when we see the surging waves of a sea in storm, when we gaze up into a clear night sky filled with distant stars. It is our profound connection to the sacred beauty of our universe.
Agaya can inspire feelings of humbleness, and also feeling of expansive pride and great joy. As you slowly inhale, invite this sacred joy of agaya into the center of your being. Hold it for a moment, then as you release your breath, send with it your feelings of humble gratitude to spread out into the world.
Inhale wonder and joy… Exhale gratefulness for interconnection…Inhale agaya… Exhale ubuntu… Inhale agaya… Exhale ubuntu… Inhale agaya… Exhale ubuntu…
Now, inhale ubuntu, hold that feeling of interconnection, then exhale agaya to spread joy and wonder into the universe. Inhale ubuntu… Exhale agaya… Inhale ubuntu… Exhale agaya… Inhale ubuntu… Exhale agaya…
When you are ready, you may open your eyes, and allow yourself to gently return to your day. You should come into a state of calm attention, engergized by your contemplation of ubuntu and agaya. Take a moment to thank yourself for beginning this meditation practice. We in the Novasutras community thank you for taking this step toward wellness and awareness. We thank you for all that you do as an agent for change, ubuntu, and agaya.