Sujatha baliga leads a guided meditation to work through past traumas in a gentle, loving, and healing manner.
(This meditation is part two of our interview with sujatha baliga)
[00:00:13] sujatha baliga: Welcome everyone, thank you so much for taking this time to meditate with me today.
Today we’re going to be doing a really specific meditation on working through our past traumas.
So at the onset, I just want to really encourage folks to be gentle with themselves and to know that at any point that you want to abandon the meditation and make yourself a nice cup of tea, or do something gentle for yourself, that is perfectly okay.
If it works for you to just return to your breath and stay with the breath instead of working through some part of this meditation, you are so welcome to do so.
Another important thing to know at the onset is that you don’t have to think about the worst thing you have ever experienced. You don’t have to bring up past memories in order to do this meditation.
If anything, I would encourage you to not do that, but just to stick with the script that I’ll be sharing with you and just noticing parts of your body or where your mind is going and being gentle with yourself as we work through this, instead of working specifically with some particular story from the past.
So put yourself in a comfortable position, ideally with your spine as straight as possible while still being comfortable. If that’s sitting cross-legged, you could do that. You could have your feet grounded on the floor.
Just noticing points of contact and if it helps to feel like someone is sort of tugging the hair at the top of your head, if you have hair on the top of your head, just pulling you a little bit straighter upwards.
Notice your shoulders, let them be rolled back in some way that works for you.
You can have your hands on your knees, but another really lovely posture is to have your right hand on top of your left with your thumbs touching.
You can try that, that can help with some openness and spaciousness in the chest area, create some space in the armpits. So you can give that a try, if that works for you.
And now just noticing your jaw and your mouth, allowing those to be relaxed.
Your eyes could be open or closed through this meditation, whichever feels better for you. Or you could toggle back and forth between the two, if that works as well.
Whatever position you found yourself in, just notice if it’s comfortable, if it’s working for your body, and make adjustments accordingly.
Setting a motivation
And we’re going to do one last bit of adjustment, and that’s an internal adjustment, which is about setting our motivation.
So in thinking about why it is that we sit, what is our motivation for sitting?
It’s lovely to set the intention to be engaging in the sitting practice so that we can be happier people.
That is a wonderful motivation in and of itself, to be calmer, to be more at peace, to feel less encumbered by the things we carry. How wonderful in and of itself to just want those things.
But the truth is that even if that alone is our motivation, the outcome is often different.
By becoming happier, more peaceful, less encumbered people, that actually has a positive impact on the people around us: our friends, our family members, our coworkers, in ever widening circles.
So since it’s somewhat inevitable that the shifts within ourselves are actually this positive contagion for others, let’s actually set our motivation that way right now.
That we’re not just sitting for ourselves, but that we’re sitting so that our increasingly calm, positive mindsets, our happier way of being in the world, is beneficial not just to ourselves, but to others as well.
Allow yourself to really drop into that motivation for a few moments now.
You could even frame it as a wish. May this time, meditating in this way, help me be a happier, more peaceful person, less encumbered, more spacious and free, and may that have a positive impact on others as well.
Noticing the breath
Now we’re going to start with our friend, and anchor, the breath. Let’s take a moment now to notice your breath coming and going at its own natural pace.
You might notice it as your belly rising and falling, or you might notice it inside a nostril, or above your upper lip, wherever it is that you most naturally notice your breath coming and going, just allow your mind to rest there for a moment.
And then track the breath coming and going, focusing on the physical sensation of the breath.
Each time your mind wanders, just come back to that sensation of the breath as it comes and goes.
Your breath is going to be here for the whole meditation. And again, if there’s any point at which this meditation isn’t working for you, feel free to return to the breath.
Let’s begin with some body scanning.
Take a moment now to notice where you might be feeling some tension in your body, where you’re holding things tightly.
Maybe it’s your jaw or your throat, chest, diaphragm, belly. These are some common places where our body can sort of hold on to some of the fear and past traumas that we may have experienced. There might be other places in your body.
Many people know this expression, the body keeps the score, so you may have specific places where you hold that tension directly related to past trauma, or it might live in other places.
Take a moment to breathe into some of the more obvious places where you might be holding tension, letting the jaw or the forehead, the belly, relax.
As you do this, keep in mind that feeling. The places where we hold tension or past experiences, or even present discomforts, doesn’t mean that we’re still living through them.
Realize that in the present moment, those events are not currently happening.
What is happening in our bodies right now, are in our thoughts, our feelings, and sensations, not events. See if you can focus on the feeling or the sensation and see if you can separate it from the event.
Just stay with the feeling and breathe into those places.
You can gently scan your body, noticing where you’re holding tension, and send some of that open spaciousness that can come with your breath to those places in your body. Allow your awareness to go slowly, slowly, starting at the top of your head and scanning downward.
Allowing each breath, as needed, to land where you’re feeling that tension, letting it soften the forehead, maybe the jaw.
Maybe breathing into your neck, letting the breath go to the throat, your shoulders, letting them relax, going into your arms, really breathing into your upper arms and out, letting that tension release and into your forearms, and again, staying with the sensation.
Not with any particular memory, just letting it release your hands really on that out breath, let the sensations relax, soften.
And now starting at the top of your torso, continuing to breathe in and out at your own natural pace, working through your chest, just really allowing that release on the out breath in your belly.
Some deeper breaths can really allow that belly to soften.
Really send that spaciousness of the breath there to your belly.
Now going back up to the back of your neck and slowly, slowly moving down your back.
With each breath releasing any tension that rides along with the sensation.
Moving through the middle of your back, your lower back.
Each time a memory or a story arises in relationship to any sensations, past or present, just go back to the sensation and allow it to release a little bit, remembering that these are just the feelings and the sensations, not the events.
To each place keep sending your gentle breath and your awareness, through your bottom on the cushion or the chair.
And we’re returning to the front of your body, through your pelvis, through your thighs, your knees, your calves, your ankles, and your feet.
Again, those out breaths really letting it release, soften.
And now starting at the center of your body, at the core of your chest, along with the breath, again, sending feelings of relaxation and release.
Allow that feeling to spread out to the edges of your body in every direction.
Breathing in and out for a few moments now at your own natural pace.
Working with the mind
And now that we’ve attended to our bodies, let’s spend a few moments attending to our brains, which are also a part of our bodies.
In our lives we’ve learned lessons about danger, harm, fear, and discomfort that can sometimes cause us to behave in habitual ways.
There may have been usefulness to those responses. They can work to keep us safe in the moment but there comes a time when those responses are no longer necessary and we can give the part of our brain that has been working so hard to protect us a rest.
So let’s practice like this for a little bit and start by thanking our brain and its vigilance for its efforts to keep us, and maybe others as well, safe.
Let’s start by taking one of your hands and putting it on the base of your skull, right above the top of your neck, and really just cradle that part of your head.
Take a breath, breathing into that space, send your breath right there.
Allow your breath to move, and a feeling of spaciousness to move all the way into the middle of your brain, from the back of your neck, just above the top of the back of your neck.
And allow that open, spacious feeling to come from where your hand is, all the way into the center of your head, as you send your breath to this part of your brain, to these parts that helped keep you safe with their immediate responses to threats, say in your heart, Thank you.
Thank you for working so hard to keep me safe.
You can let your arm relax and continue to really send these wishes and thoughts into this middle part of your head.
Thank you. You’ve done a wonderful job. You’ve brought me here to the safe moment. Thank you. You can rest now.
Maybe you know the names of these parts of the brain, like the amygdala, and you can say those names if you want to, but there’s no need.
You can just allow the feeling of spaciousness to fill up the center part of your head and your brain.
Thank you. You can take a rest. There’s nothing for you to do right now.
At this moment everything is okay.
Feel free to let your guard down. You can rest.
Now let’s return to the body again, one more time. Noticing if there’s still any places where you’re really holding some tension.
Letting go visualization
See if there’s some place where you’re still feeling it. Maybe your belly or your jaw, maybe your forehead or somewhere else where you’re feeling some tension, and we’re going to do a little visualization.
Imagine that there’s a small piece of cloth, maybe two inches by two inches, floating right there in that part of your body.
This little piece of cloth symbolizes all the tension you’re feeling in that part of your body, all the stories, the difficulties you’ve endured.
Those stories are held right there in that little piece of cloth, and it’s simply there floating, waving about, maybe in a gentle wind.
You can thank the little piece of cloth if you like, for having held these stories.
And now start to see the strings at the edges of the cloth start to loosen and move away from each other.
The threads at the edges start to soften and separate away from the cloth floating outwards further and further until they leave the bounds of your body and just keep floating away.
And now you can start to see the cloth from its center, also. All the pieces of threads starting to separate and gently floating from the center, loosening outwards further and further still, more and more space is opening between each piece of thread.
They all begin to float away outwards until none are touching each other, and they all float outwards and far, far beyond the edges of your body, beyond the bounds of your vision in every direction.
Now stay with that open space in front of you. Let’s just stay there in that spaciousness for a few moments.
Now bring your attention back to your breath, to the natural rhythm of your breath, as it comes and goes at its own natural pace.
And again, noticing your body. You can start to roll out your shoulders.
Wiggle your fingers and toes, noticing points of contact. If your eyes were closed, you could open them and rejoin us.
Taking a moment to rejoice
Thank you so much for doing that practice with me. I’d like to close with a couple things, taking a moment to rejoice.
Be really grateful that you made this effort to practice. Really think, How wonderful that I tried this practice today.
Don’t be judgmental about how good you were at it, or if you did it right instead, just say to yourself, It was really great that I gave that a try. Really wonderful that I engaged in this way.
No judgment, just happy that you gave it a try.
And now let’s close out with a little bit of a dedication.
If you’ll join me in sharing this wish, May I and all beings have all the causes and conditions needed to work constructively with our past traumas and continued pain over those experiences.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be free from suffering.
May all beings be healthy, safe, and liberated.
And may any beneficial transformations that arose during this practice continue to help me be a kinder and more positive person for myself and others.
May this practice be of benefit to all beings everywhere.
Thank you everyone.
Thanks for sitting with me today.
If you enjoyed this episode, please consider making a donation to our podcast. A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment is a nonprofit organization supported entirely by donations that keep all our content free and ad free. To support us now, visit our website at skepticspath.org. We accept cash, credit, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies and your donations are tax-deductible in the U.S.
Audio mastering by Christian Parry
Marketing Direction by Jason Waterman
Digital Production, Marketing, and Social Media by Isabela Acebal