108 Blessings

Image

Many yoga studios offer 108 Sun Salutations classes around the Equinoxes. What’s the significance of 108 and why would anyone want to do that many flows in a row?!

I love that the Wikipedia article defines 108 as “the natural number following 107 and preceding 109”. It is that, indeed, but it is so much more.

Think of 108 as embodying the nature of the universe: 1 is The One, God, The Universe; 0 is nothingness, emptiness, completeness; 8 is everything, infinity (there’s our old friend again). We are all of this simultaneously.

The number 108 holds significance in many different cultures and religions, threading through Hinduism, Buddhism, and other eastern traditions like a mala necklace—which, incidentally, contains 108 beads.

The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. The diameter of Stonehenge is approximately 108 feet. The number 108 is used in Islam to refer to God. In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets; 12 times 9 equals 108. The sacred River Ganga spans a longitude of 12 degrees (79 to 91), and a latitude of 9 degrees (22 to 31); 12 times 9 equals 108. The angle formed by two adjacent lines in a pentagon equals 108 degrees. Just Google it. The list goes on and on…

The power of 108 came home to me when I received my first paycheck for teaching meditation, and it was for $108. It was wonderful confirmation that when you align with your highest purpose, everything flows. When you know yourself as an individual aspect of God, then infinite blessings cannot help but flow.

Performing 108 sun salutations is a type of offering. The devotion and repetition to the flow of asana, particularly when done as a group, generates energy and helps put you in touch with the essence of 108—the interconnectedness of all. Connecting with this energy at the natural stillpoints in the year around the Equinoxes is a great way to contemplate the ever turning wheel of life. I participated in 108 Sun Salutations in 2011. One word: SORE (but happy).

Contemplate 108 in your own way, in meditation, counting mala beads, doing 108 sun salutations, or beginning to see this sacred number appear in your daily life. I’d love to hear how the results show up in your own life!

Advertisements

Breathing Infinity

Breathing Infinity, Finding Peace

This Friday, September 21 is the International Day of Peace, a time when we can intentionally come together as a global community in the spirit of oneness. Anyone, anywhere can participate, and it can be as simple as lighting a candle or spending a few minutes in silent meditation.

The following day, S is the Autumnal Equinox, a day of perfect balance for the earth, and an ideal time to pause in the busyness of our lives. I invite you to spend a few moments in stillness, connecting with your breath, and pausing in the center of the infinite cycles in your life.

Here are a couple exercises to help you find that still point within:

Ponder Infinity

Consider the infinity symbol. Can you imagine energy moving around this shape, moving away from the center, back to the center, endlessly? Where else in your life do you find this pattern of movement? In the breath? In the moon cycle? In walking? In a balancing posture? Ocean waves? The circulation of blood through the heart?

Energy moves in waves and spirals, and these movements go on ad infinitum, forever. Infinity has no beginning and no end. It represents the quality or state of having no limits in terms of time or space, when we are one with our divine nature. Perfect balance.

Turn the infinity symbol upright and it becomes the number 8. Now the cycle represents a completion like the circle, but with a new level or another octave, an end and a beginning.

With its perfect rhythm, eight represents the order of the celestial worlds established on earth. Eight is a symbol of all possibilities and completion. What in your life is feeling complete? What is possible in the coming season?

Mentally let go of the past season, what did and didn’t work. Release it with a loving blessing, and prepare to receive the energies of autumn’s potential.

Breathing Exercise

Visualize the infinity symbol. Start in the middle and mentally trace the form, following a line of energy as it sweeps up and away from the center, then down and back to the center, then up and away to the opposite side, returning downward and to the middle.

See if you can breathe your way around the shape, inhaling as you trace upwards, exhaling as you flow down. Pause briefly in the center before the next breath cycle. Smooth out your breath so the inhale and exhale are even, enjoying the serenity of the natural pauses at the top and bottom of the breath. What do you notice in those moments of silence?

Other ways to contemplate the significance of the 8: eight limbs of yoga; eight notes in an octave; the Buddhist eightfold path; the caduceus symbol in medicine; the spiral of the DNA strands….

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog!

Why Spirit Trail? In my work as a yoga and meditation teacher, I think of myself as a trail guide. I’ve been practicing these disciplines for decades, so I’m familiar with the hazards and pleasures of the spiritual path. Yet I cultivate the beginner’s mind, and find that I always have something to learn, especially from my students. I can help you navigate the paths up the mountain because I’ve hiked some before, but I am ever a fellow traveler who gets just as frustrated with obstacles, and just as awed by the rewards.

I hope to use this blog as a place to share insights on the practice of yoga and meditation; give you practical health tips and spiritual tools for balanced living; highlight relevant news from the world of bodywork and healing; provide a forum for conversation about issues in these fields; and share occasional lessons learned from living with two house rabbits.

I welcome your participation and comments, and I love to receive specific questions that I can answer in a post.

Want to learn more about me? soma.chandrabeal.com

Looking forward to the journey together,

Chandra

%d bloggers like this: