vipassana discoveries|yogi surprise

3 Important Life Epiphanies You'll Have During a Vipassana (Silent Retreat)

Even if you're a quiet person, (which I'm absolutely not) it's no small feat to spend a few days not speaking. The value of unplugging and getting quiet is vast and really difficult to explain until you've gone through it. Vipassana lessons abound and don't all unfold in front of you at once. It's an unraveling effect and it will undoubtedly change you.

Whether it sounds like heaven or an impossibility, there are deep healing reasons each of us should consider taking a silent retreat and possibly doing this on a semi-regular basis.

Meditation first

If meditation eludes you, begin there. Start by meditating daily. It allows you the time to get quiet and go inside. Silence is something many of us have to practice to embrace. Once it doesn't feel so foreign, we can be more open to the gifts and lessons offered.

Vipassana, or "to see things as they truly are" is the Sanskrit term for a 10-day silent retreat. If discovering and unearthing your truths is something you know you want and need to do in this life, it's one of the many silent retreat lessons you'll receive.

There is no talking and no external entertainment allowed (phones are turned over upon arriving, no reading materials or music is permitted). The days are spent practicing seated and walking meditations.

Let's look at some vipassana lessons laying in wait

It's normal to feel intimidated or even scared about embarking on such an experience. But for those who do it, there are gifts that keep giving long after the experience is over.

You'll know yourself better.

Now, this might sound like something we all want. Understanding ourselves can only help us navigate the world around us with a deft and simplicity that isn't available if we really aren't clear on what our dharma is. Unearthing truths we've been hiding from will surface in the quiet. You'll reaffirm your strengths and the areas that need work may become amplified. If you can apply the principle that all truth is good, you may be able to see your way into confronting your truths and the opportunities they offer.

You will have a greater sense of self-discipline and self-control. 

Who couldn't use a little help in these departments? One of the coolest things about taking a vipassana is that you eat only at mealtime. And, you eat what's being served. Not only will you experience and taste your food on a completely different level without the distractions of electronics, books, music, magazines, or conversation, but you'll develop a deeper appreciation for food as sustenance.

Learning to enjoy a portion that's just enough versus all you can manage to consume is powerful. And feeling both physically and mentally strong propel us into believing that we are so much more capable than we may have previously thought. The confidence that comes with hanging in there during a meditation when you've lost count over how many times you were desperate to give up will give you a greater sense of self and appreciation for the present form that is you.

There is no such thing as boredom. 

The concept of boredom is yet another invention of our vast and complex mind. There is no counting the stories in our heads. There are too many and they change constantly. We go from thought to thought and often there is no obvious connection between the thoughts other than that they are mostly fabrications.

During a vipassana, we begin to question of all of our thoughts. If I think the thought, "OMG, I can't meditate for one more nanosecond," then that's my truth right that moment and it will change because it was never true in the first place. And here I am, back to meditating. The only moment that's important is the one that's happening right this second. Does that mean nothing is true? No, of course not. But wading through our muck and distractions and landing on the inherent deep-seeded values that rise up like a lotus over and over is what deserves our attention and nurture.

 

 


7 chakras guide practice|yogi suprise

Fun 7 Chakras Guide

The first time I heard the term 'chakras' I was mostly concerned with how to pronounce it

I was new to yoga and taking a class where the teacher was discussing the chakras meaning. She zeroed in on the root chakra, Muladhara, and explained this was where everyone needed to begin. Without stabilizing and balancing this first chakra, she clarified, a secure and sound foundation could not be laid. This terrified me. I was certain my root chakra was a mess and I was doomed to have a low-functioning chakra system. I'd never become enlightened or experience less suffering.

So I started to do some research. A lot of research, actually.

Question everything and know that everyone has a slightly different interpretation of the chakras meaning and how the system works. And our various chakras shift in balance constantly because our lives do.

We are always evolving and growing. We change our minds, hearts, and beliefs. The main thing is to consistently be in the role of learner and remain endlessly curious. Sure, balance is a damn fine endeavor. But when life creates a tsunami, your system just may experience a bit of turbulence. Studying the chakras gives us an emotional framework to connect to our bodies and the indicators something is off so we can address it. That's all. The goal is not perfection and maintenance is required.

So where to begin? That's what I wanted to know too

Let's begin with the basics. Just a few clutch pieces of information offering you a 7 chakras guide to tiptoe into the meanings, functions, and practices to find more balance. For now, wrapping your minds around the vital components will allow you the time to process and scratch just a little below the surface.

7 Chakras Guide: quick and easy

Root (Muladhara) Chakra

The root (first) chakra is located at the base of the spine (the pelvic floor). To be clear, the indication of where each chakra lives is about our subtle body, not our actual physical form. Our root chakra's main job is to provide a strong foundation and offer us a connection to our most basic needs and a sense of security that these needs are being filled. Our survival is our most basic need and the instinctive urges we feel, hunger, thirst, sexual satisfaction, sleep, and safety are all indicators of this chakra being in balance and offering us a strong infrastructure on which to build the fortitude of the ascending chakras.

Root chakra basics: 

  • Element: Earth
  • Sense: Smell
  • Color: Red

If you're looking to strengthen your root chakra, try this guided meditation for healing. To stay grounded, practice yoga postures that help you stand in your truth and strengthen, such as Tadasana, mountain pose.

Sacral (Svadishthana) Chakra

The second chakra is positioned in the lower belly and associated with the sacrum.  The sacral chakra is about our emotional and sexual connection to ourselves and others. This chakra is where our creativity lives and thrives. When this chakra is in harmony, we feel joy, expressive, and energized.

Sacral chakra basics: 

  • Element: Water
  • Sense: Taste
  • Color: Orange

To really connect with our sacral chakra, we have to remain open and flexible to change and acknowledge where fear arises and possibly holds us back because we don't want to fail. Connecting to ourselves with passion and enjoying pleasure without guilt or too much need is an incredible way to find balance in the second chakra. Try nurturing the second chakra when eating, truly tasting and savoring your food, enjoying every morsel without hesitation. Spend time with loved ones and give into being fully present, putting down the phone, turning off the TV, and avoid multi-tasking. Just be with that person and enjoy the time you have with them.

Solar Plexus (Manipura) Chakra

The solar plexus chakra is the third primary chakra. It's located between the belly button and sternum. The solar plexus chakra is all about our self-worth and personal power. In a balanced third chakra, we have a sense of willpower and self-control. We aren't afraid to speak our truth and we own our success with confidence and an understanding that we've earned it.

Solar plexus chakra basics: 

  • Element: Fire
  • Sense: Intuition
  • Color: Yellow

To balance our solar plexus chakra, we need practices that help us to accept ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally. Practice yoga poses that make you feel peaceful and glorious, happy to live inside your own body. Use mantras to stoke the internal fires that bring you alive and continue to feed your inner conviction.

Heart (Anahata) Chakra

The heart chakra is the fourth in our system and its location, you guessed it, is by our heart and lungs. Compassion, connectedness, joy, and transformation govern our center chakra. Our heart chakra is a bridge between earth and spirituality. It's where we foster happiness and connect our sense of self with absolute love and beauty.

Heart chakra basics: 

  • Element: Air
  • Sense: Sixth Sense (Higher Self)
  • Color: Green

 

To find a greater sense of stability in the fourth chakra, connect fully to a pranayama practice and devote more time to meditation to center yourself. Practice loving acts and thoughts and commit to self-care rituals and random gestures of kindness.

Throat (Vishuddhi) Chakra

The 5th chakra is located at the throat. This is our communication center and affects our voice box, speech, hearing, thyroid and parathyroid glands, which regulate our metabolisms. We develop our ability to both speak our truth and communicate effectively as well as hear others utilizing the throat chakra.

Throat chakra basics: 

  • Element: Space
  • Sense: Sound
  • Color: Blue

There are many ways to create symmetry within the throat. If you have trouble talking, practicing chants and speaking up for yourself are the practices for you. If the opposite is true, a silent meditation retreat could do wonders for you. Get outside and enjoy nature, noticing the details and astounding beauty all around you. Being with yourself and quietly contemplating your good fortune is another way you can find an energetic shift here.

Third Eye (Anja) Chakra

Our sixth chakra is located near our eyebrow line. This is our command center, where our senses and intellect meet. Growth, stillness, intuition, clarity, and openness are the qualities that exist in a balanced third eye chakra. Self-knowledge and consciousness are fully realized.

Third eye chakra basics: 

  • Element: Light
  • Sense: Sight
  • Color: Indigo

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhanam) is a helpful practice here for finding mental clarity and insight by balancing our subtle energies and opening us up to a more profound level of consciousness. When we can find stillness in both our bodies and minds, we are free of distractions that keep us from the continued pursuit of truth and knowledge. Meditation and calming restorative practices that allow the subtle shifts to happen are best utilized to encourage balance in the third eye.

Crown (Sahasrara) Chakra

Finally, the seventh chakra. Our crown chakra is positioned beyond the realm of our bodies and mental functioning. It's beyond our physical selves yet it's also the height of where we can reach with our consciousness. Some refer to the crown chakra as the state of enlightenment. When we as human beings can reach beyond ourselves and our individual experience to live on a higher plane far past what we could previously imagine, our seventh chakra is balanced.

Crown chakra basics: 

  • Element: Oneness or Transcendence
  • Sense: Beyond Consciousness
  • Colore: Violet

The practices here encompass all of the other 7 chakras. To celebrate and encourage ourselves to go beyond and become inspired. Gratitude for everything and affirmations steeped in our spiritual connection are how we encourage this chakra to open and flourish.

There is a vast world to explore when delving into the realm of the chakra system. Keep learning and seek out information and practices to assist you with alignment and sense of your place in the universe. For a more in-depth look at a 7 chakras guide, visit The Chopra Center to continue your studies.

For more information about each of the chakras, see the complete guides: