Bowing Meditation

I was asked to document my bowing meditation journey by my teacher and here’s my first entry which comes 33 days into this practice.
Everyday I complete 300 bows this takes me just over an hour on most days. At this point that may not seem like much, but when you have a 3 year old son and all of life’s challenges and obstacles to contend with taking an hour at least out of your day everyday is not easy, so why do it?
The simple answer is I was asked by my teacher to complete 100 days straight of 300 bows each day and not give up, before this request I had done 14 days plus 1000 bows practice, but to commit to 100 days was not an easy decision because a lot can happen in that time like for example family gatherings for Christmas (yes I completed my bows when everyone else was doing what people do that time of year). All I knew was I have asked the big questions such as who am I and what is my purpose and true self and I have been living those questions long enough to know when a door opens walk through it if its aligned with your path and this was.
You start the bowing from standing and come down to your knees and then rise back to your feet; that completes one bow and you keep going until you have completed 300.
The purpose of bowing is to surrender your ego and burn your karma’s (past or present negative actions, thoughts & emotions).

Day 1 – 32
In summary the beginning has been hard, it’s winter the sunlight hours are not there to help raise your spirit, its dark, cold, damp and altogether not pleasant. My knees and ankles are stiff and tender from my years of playing football and snowboarding and to add to the pot I had got lost and confused in life with regards to career and overall purpose, but my son, wife and practice kept me strong.
The first days are torment you don’t want to do it and it hurts; every joint clicks, cracks and pops and for me personally my right knee is a problem area as I carry an old injury there, but you keep going.
In the past I would have rest days to rejuvenate and recover, an hour of bowing works the body the same way an hour doing any activity does; you sweat, breath hard and have to dig a bit deeper to get through, but now there are no rest days and I have learnt already those rest days, whilst they do help the body it’s more beneficial for the mind, its our minds that want the rest not so much our bodies despite the aches, pains and old injures.
As the days passed you get into a rhythm and whilst your mind is still against the whole process you begin to feel it soften and accept that yes tonight you will take to the floor and complete your bows. You notice your body adapting, it gets stronger, more flexible and you perspire less even though your moving faster through the bows.
I have only touched the tip of the ice berg so far with what is presented to you in bowing the next part maybe hard to digest if you do not have the experience to draw references from; i speak of the mind stuff. I never understood truly what a monkey mind was until I committed to this practice and you need to take into account I have practiced yoga and meditation for some years and yet it was through this repetitive motion that the true chaos theory of my mind was shown to me. When the mind is busy the practice is tough and when the mind is calm the practice is smooth and pleasant and I found myself yo yoing between these two states. The more the days passed the more I found myself in a calm state and then I was able to observe my habits, let my emotions rise and let it all go.

Day 33

Day 33 came 2 days after completing 1000 bows (this practice lasted 2 hours 30 minutes). The body and mind have been tender over the past week, after spending Christmas with family, not eating my usual diet and engaging in all the emotions that come with the festive season I picked up my first cold of the winter and so did my son. So I completed 1000 bows tired and with a cold and I completed the daily 300 bows yesterday and today with a cold and tired and yet I feel stronger than ever. I have discovered through this journey that if you keep placing one foot in front of the other you will get to where you need to, but you will also be more present with where you are. It sounds crazy and even stupid to put the body and mind through that much work when it needs rest to recover from a cold, but your not forcing yourself to bow gritting your teeth and tensing your mind and body to push through, instead the opposite is true; you find a state of complete surrender and acceptance and do the best you can do right now free from struggle and force, which makes it a liberating experience.
I started my bowing earlier than normal and so my son was awake and he decided he would take part by getting in the way and climbing on me and I must say all I could do was laugh; as again I’m tired hence practicing earlier thinking I would get through it earlier and be good to rest up for the evening and instead I got stumped by my awesome son, but it was the right choice because overall I let go of more tension and when I was not being climbed all over I noticed I was finding a really good flow and my mind was much calmer with less distracting thoughts, which allowed a lovely warmth to build in the area of the body known in Dahn Yoga as the Dahn Jon in India the sacral chakra and in the west the lower abdominal s. I mention this because I have had a life of sluggish digestion and ibs, which led me to eat a cleaner diet which has helped massively, but I have always found it hard to connect feeling wise with that area of the body; in Dahn Yoga and Qi Gong they mention the energy principle of water up and fire down, which leads to the sensation of water (saliva) in the mouth and fire (warmth) in the belly. I achieved that and it did allow the practice to be even more effortless.

I love sharing these days and will continue to share what I discover through bowing over the next 67 days, I will post more food recipes throughout that time, I have had a break from that recently, but some more yummy recipes will be posted shortly. If you have any comments or would like to share anything then feel free to and I look forward to hearing all about your journeys.

To you all in great health

Matt
The Yoga Health Coach

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Raw Vanilla Cheescake

My son turned 3 years old the other day and he requested a cake for his birthday, no problem I have been making cakes for years, but here’s my problem! It was awesome the best ever and I have no idea what quantities I used and have a vague recollection of most of the ingredients; the thing is when you are use to creating anything you simply go by instinct and intuition and the only real reason it’s a problem is it becomes more problematic sharing your creation, but as they say ‘a picture speaks a thousand words.’

Ingredients.
Base.

100g – Almonds
100g – Pecans
50g – Currants
50g – Coconut flour
Pinch of Himalayan Salt

Middle layer.
50g – Cacao butter
50g – Cacao paste
80g – Coconut oil
1 tbsp – molasses
1/2 – pomegranate

Topping.
50g – Pecans
50g – Cacao butter
100g – Coconut oil
100g – Cashew nuts
1 tsp – Vanilla powder
8 – dried apricots
1 tbsp – wild honey
1 pinch sea salt

Note – nuts, cacao butter, cacao paste, currants and coconut oil are guesstimates on the quantities used.

Method.
Prepare the base first, I used an 8 inch cake tin. Blend all the base ingredients together and place into the base of the cake tin. The cacao paste, cacao butter & coconut oil need to be melted down to liquid using a Bain Marie; then pour the cacao liquid (molasses added at this point) on top of the base and sprinkle the pomegranate over the top, place into the fridge to set/harden. To make the topping you will need to melt down the cacao butter & coconut oil and add all the ingredients to the blender, blend until thick and creamy (you will need to keep adding water until you get the right consistency, don’t rush this part as your cake will either win or loose at this part). Place in the fridge and leave to set for 24 hours and then serve with a sprinkle of cacao nibs on top.

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To you in great health

Matt Allen
The Yoga Health Coach