Over two centuries ago, the great English poet William Wordsworth cautioned the world on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution that “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; / Little we see in Nature that is ours….” What Wordsworth observed was the beginnings of a mass exodus of people from a simple agricultural, world where they lived in harmony with Nature, to an imbalanced materialistic world, divorced from the earth they once honored as the source of life and livelihood. This spiritual divide has widened with time, and many now see our earth only as an exploitable resource. Many have lost touch with nature and no longer understand the importance of our intimate connection with the earth and with each other. In a hurried world of obligations and deadlines, it is easy to see how people have disconnected, but yoga helps us to bridge this disconnect and restore unity.

The early rishis realized the importance of this connection and provided rich teachings for future generations to ensure a means to maintain this harmony. Yoga, as commonly understood in the West, is the unity of mind, body, and spirit; yet it is more than this. Once this unity is understood, we may then unite with the Devine, which—as the Lord Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita—exists within all things; although, all things do not exist within the Devine. We must consider carefully the impact our actions have upon life in all its forms and the earth that sustains it. When we lack this understanding, we fail to be fully human—to be fully complete—and find ourselves in discord with the Universe and each other.

Thousands of years before the coming of the iPad, people were very much aware to the world around them and their connection to it. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it does not change us into something non-human. Society is out of synch with the Universe as it moves gracefully on—cycle within cycle, marked by the changing constellations of the night skies, the seasons of the year, and the migration of animal life. Each of these offers us a chance to not only reflect upon the certainty of change and impermanence but also to pause and celebrate the delicate and intricate balance of Nature and our place within it. People have honored Nature in many ways, such as celebrating spring as it begins the renewal of life. As the Vernal Equinox nears on March 20, many yoga practitioners will gather together for Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations), while others will sit mindfully in meditation.

I have always enjoyed the joining with others in Surya Namaskar, but meditation offers an opportunity for a more intimate exploration of ourselves as part of the Universe.  Before I begin my meditation, I gather together fresh water, seeds, sugar cubes, and incense. When I locate an appropriate outdoor location for meditation, I offer these gifts to the Devine presence manifest in all things: the water to the plants, the seeds to birds and animals, the sugar cubes to insects, and the incense to the Universe itself. This is in no way a formal ritual taken from any ancient text, but it is deeply personal and important to me. Ritual for the sake of ritual offers only empty actions. Whatever you do, be creative and have fun—make it personal and relevant to your intentions of meditation.

The rituals for the Vernal Equinox change from year to year as I do, but my meditation has been consistent. This is a very simple meditation that can easily be adapted to suit anyone. Begin by grounding yourself and making a deep connection with the earth; sit comfortably on the ground, allowing the pelvic floor and the Muladhara Chakra to connect with the earth—not just feeling the earth but imagining yourself growing out of it, being a real part of it. Explore the earth with the fingertips at the sides of the hips, and begin to inhale, letting the breath slowly guide the arms upward, bringing the hands together over the Sahasrara Chakra and exhaling to lower them in Anjali Mudra to rest at the Anahata Chakra. Repeat this three times, imagining your hands gathering the Universe’s energy as they sweep upward and guide it into your heart.

After the third inhalation, exhale the hands to rest palms upward, bringing the thumbs and index fingers together in Gyan mudra. Rest the tongue between the upper palate and the ridge of your upper teeth. Slow the breath, and allow your awareness to expand, inviting and welcoming all sensory experiences: the breeze upon your skin; the coolness or warmth of the earth; the smells in the air; the sounds of birds, insects, wind, and so on. The important thing to remember now is to not allow yourself to attach to the source of the experience. For example, when you hear the sound of a bird, try not to think “that’s a bird…. I wonder what kind of bird that is….” Simply experience the sensation, without identifying it. In this way, allow your awareness to dissolve into the Universe and the Universe to dissolve into you, fully embracing God consciousness….

Namasté ~

Chris Lane