Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Sat Yam Meditation for Depression/Anger/Grief Release

So many people have asked me for a copy of the meditation mentioned in my talk, “Maximize Your Brain Function,” that I’ve decided to post it here:

When grief or loss overwhelms us, we instinctively choose fight or flight–both forms of denial. According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, denial marks the first stage of a five-part process, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. If all recovery requires a progression through at least two of these stages, then how can we move through them faster? So many of my coaching clients remain stuck because of current reactions to very old grief. They don’t want to dissect their experiences; they want to move past them. Now.

A meditation using the syllables “sat yam” (rhymes with “but” “hum”) offers a powerful way to do just that. I first discovered this ancient technique on Yogiraj Alan Finger’s wonderful CD, “Life Enhancing Meditations,” in which he leads listeners through a seated process. I found it effective in moving through my own emotions and began to share the method with clients whose reactions to grief continued to get the better of them. To my delight, they started practicing the meditation for a few minutes each day, and their anger and attachments began to fade. I’ve recommended it so many times over the years–and with such good results–that I decided to share the meditation here.

If you think of the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” this meditation gives you another option. It functions like a garbage disposal for old emotions that no longer serve us. What happens when we throw lemons in a garbage disposal? All the old, nasty smelling junk that sits in the sink and makes it stink, suddenly smells fresh. The lemon completely disappears, leaving only a fresh, invigorating scent and free-flowing water.

To begin the process, get as comfortable as you can without falling asleep. (Yogiraj Alan Finger recommends sitting upright; however, I encourage clients to use this meditation in the moment, whenever a new betrayal, loss or irritation threatens to turn into lasting grief or anger.) So, get as comfortable as you can and preferably close your eyes. Gradually bring yourself into your heart. If you can’t get out of your head, imagine a ladder descending from your brain to your heart, and step down each rung with each breath, until you can step into your heart center.

Once in your heart, concentrate on your breath, imagining it flowing directly in and out of your heart center (at the center of your chest, not actually your physical heart!). Breathe like this for a minute or so.

On your next inhalation, inhale through your heart center and imagine you’re dragging all your old grief, anger, loss, betrayal and attachments in with the breath. If you have a lot of emotions, you might imagine them wrapped in cloth that you drag in with the breath. You might also think of them as barnacles attaches to silk. Use whatever image comes to mind most easily. Inhale deeply, dragging all this old junk up to the crown (top) of your head, silently saying to yourself, “sat” (rhymes with “but”).

Once you reach the end of your inhale at the crown of your head, exhale through your crown and imagine all that old stuff releasing out the top of your head. As you exhale, silently say to yourself, the sound, “yam” (rhymes with “hum”), imagining the sound carrying away all your grief and emotions. (I like to imagine huge wings opening up to the sound “yam” and taking flight with all the things I no longer need.)

Return to your heart and repeat: inhale, dragging all the remaining emotions into your heart with the sound “sat,” dragging all that stuff up to your crown, and then releasing through the top of your head with an exhalation and the sound “yam.” Inhale, release, repeat.

(You need not worry about “polluting” the world with all these “negative” emotions, because when something releases through your crown, it undergoes a spiritual transmutation and simply becomes uncharged energy.) Continue to repeat the sat yam inhalation/exhalation process until you feel light in your heart and have difficulty finding enough “stuff” to drag in with your inhale. Once you’ve reached a good stopping point, enjoy this lighter, cleaner space of your heart and know that you can return here any time by inviting the grief into your heart, transforming it through breath and sound, and releasing it through the crown of the head.

This meditation works, in part, because it reconnects the head and the heart, reversing traditional sounds associated with their chakras. “Sat,” meaning “truth” or “true identity,” usually corresponds to the seventh chakra, while “yam” represents the sound of the fourth (or heart) chakra. By reversing these sounds, this meditation encourages consciousness in the heart and a connection between “hridaya” (gateway to the highest level of reality) and our point of union with the Divine. Head and heart become an integrated whole.

Because this meditation involves a bit of multi-tasking (concurrent breath, sound, visualization), people often wonder if they can practice isolated parts of it. “Can’t I just breathe deeply? What if i forget the sounds?” My own and others’ experiences find the whole greater than the sum of its parts in this case. Deep breathing will help anyone deal with stress, but without the mantra and visuals, deep breathing does not act as a grief eater. Deep breaths will relax you, but they will not cause “lemons” to disappear, leaving only a fresh, clean, invigorating scent. If you have trouble memorizing the instructions, record part of this article for yourself, or buy Yogiraj Alan Finger’s “Life Enhancing Meditations.” With regular practice, you’ll find it becomes natural and easy.

One client uses this technique so much, she’s turned it into a verb! “So and so really got on my nerves today, so I satyam’ed for five minutes while he was talking to me. I can see I’ll have to satyam some more because I can feel a little sadness clawing at my heart strings.” She uses the meditation proactively, as a means to avoid latching onto negative emotions. Whether used for removing old grief or to prevent future attachments, sat yam offers a powerful way to keep moving forward. By embracing grief–literally inviting it into our hearts–we allow the energy of unconditional compassion to heal our wounds. Instead of dodging the emotions, we love them. As the saying goes, “If you love something, set it free.” Love your grief, so that you CAN set it free!