Would you like to create more space, stillness and peace in your yoga practice and life?
Jon Kabat Zin offers a great definition of Meditation as 'the art of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment.'
Notably meditation is not about 'not thinking'. It is the art of not identifying with thought, emotion, sensation. Meditation encourages you to identify with, or 'getting to know', the 'witness' aspect of your psyche or soul. This witness within you, is in a state of pure observation, and remains unaffected and unchanged by all events in life.
It's important to have a sense of where you are going in meditation. You are going inwards. You are moving beyond the superficial layer of thought, emotion and sensation to connect to the part of you the watches and observes these changes states. You are withdrawing from the body's surface to discover at your core, a vast reservoir of energy, space and stillness. The Daoist's call this the Dao, 'the tranquility that lies at the centre of all things.'
Evangelical, yes, but meditation has profoundly changed my life and my ability to deal with discomfort. Meditation enables me to see myself clearly, in the present moment, and offers me the insight to see where I am going. You will experience this at the heart of your yoga postures.
WHY GROUP PRACTICE?
Practicing a meditation class in addition to practicing yoga may seem a little like ordering a herbal tea in a coffee shop - you could do it at home, I know. But the benefits, however, of practicing in a class comes with the yoga kula (community).
Group meditation is a source of inspiration, solidarity and motivation. Over the month of March Im offering free 15 min meditations after my classes at Yogacentric, to reinforce a meditation community alongside our asana practice.
Millions of people have adopted at least ten minutes a day of quiet mindfulness to focus inwards and recharge their energy levels in the quest for improved sleep, concentration, mood and a deeper sense of purpose and wisdom.
However, the actual experience of meditation is often not comfortable to begin. Truth be told, even after years there are days where meditation feels blissful, and days where it feels very fragmented and challenging. What changes is your tolerance for these varying experiences.
Most of us confront the following issues in our meditation practice:
1. The pain of sitting
2. Stilling the mind creating a bigger void that fills with dark procrastination, analysis and spirals of self doubt
3. Getting bored... and the pull to check emails!
'FIND YOUR SEAT'
Being comfortable and having a long spine is critically important in being able to 'fall in' to a state of meditation. For many people, sitting cross legged is far too painful beyond a few breaths. You have many options:
*Lie down - it's hard not to fall asleep, but you can start off lying with legs bent, feet on floor, chest and head slightly elevated.
* Straddle or kneel over a bolster or cushions - as long as your knees can tolerate the flexion this is a great position to lift out of bad posture.
*Sit upright on a chair, feet firmly on ground, hands in lap
* Sit against a wall with a brick or cushion in the space between your shoulder blades and the wall to remind you to lift you chest and not lean back or forward
*Sit on blocks or a meditation cushion to elevate the pelvis.
THE MOVEMENT WITHIN STILLNESS
Even though we aim to bring the body into stillness in deeper states of meditation, try to enhance the inherent movement of the breath through the body.
Stretch your neck shoulders and arch your spine before you begin. Allow your spine to undulate and lift on the inhale; allow your body to soften and your thighs to feel heavier on the exhalation.
Rigidity in your posture causes pain. Ironically, allowing your body to flow with the movement of the breath will bring you into a place of stillness.
MY 5 STEPS TO MEDITATION
2. BREATH FREEDOM
5. DHYANA CHARYA