Movement and Mantra: Connecting Breath, Body, Heart, and Mind January 28, 2021 09:17

Several colorful malas lined up like bones in the spine. These designs are available now on the MMM online shop.

If you prefer to listen to this month's blog post, (and you might since I've included a mini-meditation in this article) please click here.

I started my morning with a Feldenkrais lesson. 

It wasn't something I had planned to do, although I typically do practice some sort of Awareness Through Movement lesson at some point during the day. However, today, I happened to catch Joe Webster's live class on his Thoughtful Movements FB group.

Joe is a Feldenkrais practitioner in London, and typically, when he teaches his live classes, it is very early in the morning for me. Luckily, I was awake today and decided to practice with him.

I was still in bed, and even though he instructed us to do the lesson in a seated posture, I decided to practice lying down. I scooched pillows out of the way so I could stretch out comfortably. Maya was curled up at my feet snoring softly.

This morning's lesson was very subtle--focusing on the breath and the connection between the ribs and the vertebrae of the thoracic spine--more specifically, the thick, cartilaginous discs between each vertebra.

Joe has a very soothing, calming voice, and he began the lesson by inviting us to focus on our breathing--to notice how the chest cavity would gently rise and fall with the breath.

Then, he asked us to imagine the vertebrae of the middle back spine--to notice how these bones would gently lift on each inhalation, and then softly fall back on each exhalation.

He led us through an investigation of each disc between the twelve vertebrae of the thoracic spine. We spent a few minutes on each disc--observing the breath (about ten breaths for each disc)--and imagining each disc rise and fall softly with our breathing.

Joe didn't suggest this, but I realized that ten breaths and eleven discs add up to about 108, so I decided to incorporate a simple mantra into this early morning practice. (There are perks to being a bit of a rebel--I found doing this lesson lying down on a soft surface to be extremely helpful, and incorporating a mantra practice with it was the icing on the meditative cake!)

The mantra I chose was Aham Prema. It is a short, simple, and powerful Sanskrit mantra that translates as "I am Divine Love."

As I imagined each thoracic disc rising gently on the inhalations, I imagined the Sanskrit word Aham.

With each exhalation, as the disc moved back toward the soft mattress, I imagined the word Prema.

Gently, slowly--visualizing each disc nestled between the vertebrae, the chest rising and falling in a slow, steady rhythm. The spine responding to this gentle, effortless flow, and the mantra steadily leading, guiding, and unifying the practice.

This subtle Feldenkrais lesson became more than an embodied somatic practice. The mantra transformed it into a powerful meditation connecting breath, body, heart, and mind.

As Joe led his listeners through each pair of vertebrae--and each disc in the middle back spine--a journey was unfolding for me:

I imagined the disc nestled between T-1 and T-2

On the deep inhalation: Aham

and with it...deep gratitude.

On the slow, steady exhalation: Prema


I imagined the disc between T-2 and T-3

On the inhalation: Aham

and with it...profound understanding.

On the slow, gentle exhalation: Prema


I visualized the disc between T-3 and T-4

On the next inhalation: Aham

and with it...selflessness.

On the relaxed, easy exhalation: Prema


I visualized the disc between T-4 and T-5

On the next, deep inhalation: Aham

and with it...transcendence.

On the slow exhalation, Prema


I imagined the disc between T-5 and T-6

On the inhalation: Aham

and with it...meaningful service.

On the steady exhalation: Prema


I imagined the disc between T-6 and T-7

On the next inhalation: Aham

and with refuge.

On the next, deep exhalation: Prema


I imagined the disc between T-7 and T-8

On the steady inhalation: Aham

and with it...connection.

On the release of the exhalation: Prema


I imagined the disc between T-8 and T-9

On the next inhalation: Aham

and with it...a vast, infinite expanse.

On the exhalation: Prema


I visualized the disc between T-9 and T-10

On the inhalation: Aham

and with it...deep healing.

On the exhalation: Prema


I visualized the disc between T-10 and T-11

On the next, slow inhalation: Aham

and with it...forgiveness.

On the next, deep exhalation: Prema


Finally, I imagined the disc between T-11 and T-12

On this next inhalation: Aham

and with it...compassion.

On this next, slow exhalation: Prema


One of the benefits of having a regular mantra practice is the ability to incorporate the practice into daily tasks and parallel interests. I've found that mantra practice makes everything better. It improves focus, enhances the state of being present, and makes tasks and activities more meaningful and interesting.

This lesson and mantra practice was a wonderful way to start my day.

 For those of you who may be interested in exploring this Feldenkrais lesson with Joe Webster, click HERE for the YouTube recording of the lesson.

For those of you who prefer to chant mantra with a beautiful mala--or if you would like to share a mala with a friend or loved one, please visit the Middle Moon Malas online shop HERE.