There are so many ways to meditate. By definition, meditation is the act of consciously bringing the mind back to one place. This place can be the breath, a mantra, a phrase, a candle flame. For the purpose of honing the unruly mind, the object of the meditation almost does not matter. One things that people do not realize when they first start meditating is that the mind will wonder and that rather than going for sustaining the focus full time, a better goal initially is to notice when we have lost our focus #1 and then #2, get back to it, returning to that place again and again until we are able to stay longer and then maybe go deeper.
I am a Nia White Belt Trainer and have been a Nia Instructor for 17 years. Among the many tools that Nia gave me, the one that has had the most affect on my body, mind and life, by far are the practices of Awareness. By Nia’s definition, Awareness is “paying attention to body sensations”. In Nia, we believe that the language of the body, sensation is the key to coming into the present moment, to being with the NOW body where we can sense the aliveness and the life force that is always moving through us. In “paying attention to body sensations”, I have found my favorite meditation.
One of the things that I have always loved about Nia, both taking class and teaching class, is that because we always have a body centered focus that we keep coming back to throughout the class, the class itself becomes a moving meditation. Even when the music is going gangbusters and there are layers of choreography to explore, the focus is always there to keep me grounded.
Initially, when my teachers told me to pay attention to my body sensations, I was mostly in my head about it. I could easily connect to the sensation of my feet on the ground, or my breath, but it was superficial. I was connecting more to the idea of these, not the actual sensations. Getting beyond the superficial and into my body, came with time. I had to slow down and learn to not only stay with the sensations as they arose, but also to simply sense them without instantly going into creating meaning around them. I realized this practice was a beautiful way to be with myself in the NOW. At some point it occurred to me share this practice and I created a class where the main purpose is to spend time sensing the body. This is how Moga came to be.
The general structure of a Moga class is a body scan while lying down at arrival that I lead as a guided meditation, then a self-inquiry where I invite students to notice what part of them is asking for more attention. I ask the students to share what they discovered and from there, I create the movement part of the class. The movements are designed specifically for those who are present. Sometimes they look like yoga, sometimes they are more active, sometimes we break out into trigger point eduction…whatever is needed by those who attend. Although I design the movement to help people feel more breath, space and freedom in their bodies, for the purposes of the class, it almost does not matter what we do as long as we stay connected to our body sensations.
There is a synergy created and a resonance of vibration as we all focus on our own body sensations. the more each person connect, the more we can all connect. People leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and connected to themselves. The class sometimes feels womb-like, sometimes like we are on vacation, sometimes like we are on an adventure. Always, there is the humble act of falling out of and then returning to the present. I can attest that the benefits extend far beyond the one hour class. Not only do I reach those places of deep relaxation and healing, but as I move into the world I am able to stay more body centered more of the time. As with prayer, the practice is not for the good times, but for the times when we need to pray. Moga has not only made the joy deeper, but has also gotten me through some very challenging times of suffering. Instead of running away, I feel like I am always coming home.
MOGA classes with Maria Skinner happen at Yoga & Nia For Life every Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:30am. Special Intro class on Saturday, Nov 1, 2014 at 11:30am-12:30pm