In the west, many people think meditation is something they need to do, this is a symptom of our culture and misappropriation of contemplative practices. Meditation changes the state of our mind. It brings awareness, harmony and natural order to human life and happens spontaneously under the right conditions.
We want to create those conditions on a regular basis and the science of yoga, specifically combining specific movement and breathing practices, help to still the mind and prepare you for deep concentration and ultimately spontaneous meditation. There are many methods of meditation. Choose one that feels appropriate and comfortable for you and try to practice it regularly.
When we concentrate and are so still that we can focus our attention on one thing and hold it there for a period of time we become the masters of our mind and are liberated from the fluctuating thoughts, recognizing them as condition patterns to be released. This transformation improves concentration, mental and emotional stability, clarity, improved communications, relationships, and the mind’s ability to observe with equanimity. It helps us to be present in our body, use energy efficiently, increase self-esteem, self- knowledge, peace of mind, ease of well being and unlock our healing and creative potential.
Meditation is a form of stress reduction that also dilates blood vessels, relaxes muscles and creates rhythmic blood flow. The brain requires less oxygen and a state of tranquility is created. Once you are relaxed you will remain relaxed until the next stressor. Other habitual things one might reach for to offer an immediate fix of relaxation could have a rebound effect of constriction and increased stress, creating a roller coaster ride for all of our functioning. True tranquility from meditation happens through the expansion of consciousness at the cellular level, tissue level and systemic level. There is a difference between the brain being made quiet versus being quiet. 20 minutes of meditation is as rejuvenating as 2 hours of sleep and provides vagal nerve stimulation that governs all the functions and rejuvenation of the body, mind and emotions to return to our natural state of integration.
Select a time, twice a day is optimal at dawn and dusk, or if only once a day is possible try for the early morning and following your Asana and Pranayama practice is best.
It is important to begin with a relaxed body so some preparatory Asana and Pranayama are helpful. Ujjayi and Nadi Shodhana are quite effective for meditation.
The body will become accustomed to regular time and allow the meditation to deepen.
Choose an amount of time to begin with, even if you can only devote 5 minutes, it is worth it, and increase to 15 minutes or more.
The environment you meditate in should be clean, comfortable, well ventilated and quiet without stimulants like sound and bright light.
Sit either in a straight back chair or in a comfortable position, with the spine extended. If on the floor, sit to the front edge of a cushion to tilt the pelvis slightly forward, or if in a chair place a small cushion behind your back, which helps to support the spine.
Meditation on the Breath (physical)
To begin, sit quietly and observe the natural flow of your breath without trying to change or control it in any way. Observe subtle sensations and then focus on one place where you feel the breath.
When your mind wanders away from the breath be compassionate with yourself and return your concentration to the breath again and again. Be reassured that this is the nature of the mind and a way to build the muscle of concentration and stillness.
Once you’re still, you can direct your mind further with one of the following meditation practices:
Also called loving-kindness meditation is the simple practice of directing well-wishes towards other people. Here's How to Do It. The general idea is to sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and imagine what you wish for your life. Formulate your desires into three or four phrases.
May (I) you be peaceful
May (I) you be happy
May (I) you be healthy
May (I) you be safe
May (I) you be free from fear
May (I) you take care of yourself joyfully
May (I) you have ease of well-being
The idea with Metta Practice is to connect with the true meaning/feeling behind the phrases. Feel free to modify the words in any way that will enhance your experience.