What is meditation
Meditation is the cornerstone of yoga
Many people who have not studied yoga or its origons, do not realize that meditiation is one of the most important aspects of yoga.
One of the main reasons why the yogis developed Asanas (physical yoga postures) was to prepare the body, mind and other levels of one’s being for Meditation.
Meditation was seen as the pinnacle of one’s practice.
And all the other 8 limbs of yoga were practiced to prepare and develop for true meditation experiences.
Meditation is 1 of the limbs of Yoga
Yoga is a very broad body of knowledge which is over 5,000 years old.
It is traditionally described in terms of 8 limbs which are
- Physical postures (which most people are aware of)
- Breathing practices
- Mind focusing techniques
- Freeing the mind from the senses
- Moral code
- Getting to Know thyself and be content within oneself
- Bliss which defies description
Nowadays many forms of yoga practiced in the West, mainly deals with physical postures, with possibly some breathing practices, a little mind focusing and if you are extreemly lucky, a correct form of Meditation.
Please note that many teachers say they teach Meditation, when in fact they are simply leading students into guided visualisations, or relaxation techniques.
What is Meditation
Meditation is a state which one enters into where one is
- Alert and awake
- Relaxed and not tense
- Awareness inwards and not caught up in the external world
- Awareness expansive and not being led by ones senses
- Definitely not drowsy
- Not in trance hynotic state
- In true states, one transcends dualism and eventually the mind.
How does one enter into the Meditation state ?
Traditionally one follows meditational techniques which prepare and lead one towards a point where one can enter into the meditation state.
All the ancient texts specify that one keeps one’s back as straight and erect as possible, with the head and neck in line with the spine. Usually the crown of the head is drawn upwards to lengthen the neck, and lengthen the whole lenght of the spine. Chin drawn a little downwards so the head is facing a little downwards.
Most traditions keep the eys closed, but some keep the eyes slightly open, with the gaze downwards not focussed, but slightly glazed.
Traditionally one is recommended to sit in one of the traditional yoga meditation postures such as Padmasana (Lotus pose), Siddhasana (Accomplished pose) or Sukhasana (Easy cross legged pose).
The most important thing is to sit with ones back erect, and be as comfortable as possible. This may be difficult for a complete beginner, but after attedning yoga posture classes for a number of months, gradually ones body opens and strengthens and eventally it becomes quite effortless to sit in a correct meditation psoture for an hour with no discomfort and no movement. This may take dilligent and persistent effort for a 1 or more hours each day over an extended period of time to achieve this.
Then one directs one’s awareness inwards and usually gives the mind a very simple task on which to focus, such as one’s breath, a mantra, or a psychic symbol.
Whatever method of meditation your teacher recommends as being best for your temperament to follow, you should stick with this one practice, rather than switching form one technique to another.
At this stage often a teacher leads the student to sit correctly, and guides them to tune their awareness inwards, giving them gentle encouraging reminders that if the mind wanders to bring the attention back to the breath.
After a number of sessions with the teacher, gradually the teacher should give fewer and fewer instructions so that the aspirant can sit themselves, adjust their own body the way they need to get get them selves sitting comfortably with their spine erect, guide their own awareness inwards, and stay with the practice.
When one is lucky and usually after a lot of practice one sinks into a deeper and deeper state while still being alert and aware.
When one is very fortunate, one enters into a state of non duality, where everything is one, and you are also part of this one, or more correclty you are also this one. And this stage is beyond words, and beyond our conceptual ability.
Teachers in the past have tried to describe this state by saying what it is not. Neti Neti Neti. Not this, not that, not such and such…
How to learn Meditation
Dave Brocklebank who is the author of this article, and who founded the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre has an instructional CD to teach you Meditation.
Mantra Meditation CD
Transcendental Mediation was brought to the west by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1958. This technique was made famous in the sixties as such people as ‘The beatles’ became involved and advocated the benefits of this practice.
The technique does not emphasise sitting cross legged, and usually is practiced sitting upright in a straigh backed chair, preferably sitting tall and straight away from the back of the chair.
When one is initiated into this type of practice, one receives a mantra (a sancsrit word) which one repeats mentally to oneself. If one discovers the mind wandering, one brings one’s awareness back to the mantra.
One usually sits for transcendental mediation twice a day for 20 minute periods.
Zen meditation places huge emphasis on the sitting posture and in remaining wide awake, aware and alert as one sits.
Ofter that it does not use a technqieue but rather allows whatever arise, to arise and one simply watches what arises.
A good way to learn meditation is to go to a reputable meditation centre, and to spend some time leaning from an experienced teacher, learning the meditation technique and then practicing diligently by oneself each day after the meditation retreat.
One good thing about attending a Yoga and Meditation Centre is that the teachers at the centre will be able to use yoga practices wo help open one’s body and sit more correctly as well as being able to use techniques to work to steady one’s mid and to transcend the senses.
Meditation retreats and yoga holidays
We teach courses in the following forms of yoga;
And also teach courses in
More formal Meditation training course
One of the best meditation teachers i have encounterd is Swami Nishchalananda who founded Mandala Yoga Ashram in Wales.
Meditation is the key
“Meditation is the most profound thing i have come across in my life”
“Meditation teaches us how to let go of habitual thinking and to become more heartfelt in our approach to life and to other people. Ultimately it leads us to a more compassionate state where we aim to relieve all suffering for all sentient beings.”