Recently I’ve been spending 5-10 minutes a day re-reading my old yoga and meditation diaries and notebooks. These are filled with my scribbles from workshops and retreats from the last 20+ years. Some things made sense at the time but are now a bit of a riddle!
One note which was easy to understand was GIN – no, not the alcoholic drink, but an acronym for gentle, inquisitive, now-ness. This was explained during a day’s workshop on Tibetan meditation.
- gentle – in your approach to your thoughts as they come up
- inquisitive – curious about your thoughts, emotions
- now-ness – present in the moment
In meditation it’s very easy to be critical when you realise your mind has wandered away to thinking, planning, ruminating etc. But we don’t need to be critical; we can be gentle and congratulate ourselves for becoming aware and return to the focus of the meditation e.g. the breath or visualisation.
Some meditation traditions don’t analyse the thoughts or emotions whereas other styles do this a bit more. You can be inquisitive about your thoughts (what ‘type’ are they? planning, ruminating, looking back, looking forward, negative etc), and curious about what feelings or emotions they bring up. But remember not to get too tangled up in them, gently bring yourself back to the focus of the meditation.
When you bring yourself back you can gradually re-settle into the moment, being present now.
Applying GIN to yoga
As well as being one way to approach meditation practice, the GIN approach can also be used for yoga. I included this in most of my yoga classes last week. The GIN focus for a physical yoga class could be:
- gentle – if you’re working around an injury or recent illness; gentle about moving towards or into your ‘edge’ or where things physically become more painful than helpful
- inquisitive – about how your breath changes in different postures; about how where your foot/hand/leg is changes how you feel in the posture; differences between right and left sides; differences between practising first thing in the morning or at the end of the day
- now-ness – remaining as engaged with the breath, mind and body, with the whole experience, as much as you can, being in the present moment.
Whether you like the other kinds of gin or not, maybe give this GIN a go when you next meditate or are in a yoga class. See if it resonates with you, and it’s ok if it doesn’t!
You could try it with breathing practices too – try the golden breath with me in the video below.
[Top image – purple light on river during a winter sunset, taken near where I live]