Meditation

  • Meditation is not a complicated and spooky thing. It is, simply, the space between thoughts. Even finding a glimpse of this is not easy but it is important not to try too hard.
  •  Some yoga traditions see sitting meditation as unnecessary; the process of the doing the asana (physical) postures and savasana (relaxation) being sufficient.
  •  It is very difficult to sit still not least because, if you are sitting in the traditional
    way, you may quite quickly feel it in your back or hips. When you experience
    this you can understand how originally all the other yoga postures were tools
    to prepare your body for sitting. You can also sit in a chair with your back
    straight.
  •  Get comfortable before you start. There is a reason so many different styles of mediation cushions are available! Cross legged, kneeling or on a chair; you must be able to stay there and you may still encounter ‘numb leg.’ My Zen teacher encourages you to sit through this but it can make trying to stand up at the end an interesting experience. Some teachers say stay still, others allow small wiggles – however either way the idea should be to move towards a comfortable stillness.
  • However, probably the biggest obstacles, which will never go away completely, are the ‘fluctuations of the mind.’ As soon as you sit still, especially at first, your
    thoughts will run concurrently not allowing any space between them. It is
    interesting to see what comes up. Sometimes you will be hit by a barrage of
    present problems or mysterious itches and twitches will come from no-where.
    Some days it will be a smoother process.
  • The idea is separate the self from the mind; watching the thoughts pass by but not getting involved. You can use the image of the thoughts being clouds passing by or thoughts floating to the bottom of the brain, like something to the bottom of the sea, to be picked up again later.
  • If you can hang on in there, on most days, the first rush of thoughts tends to subside leaving you some breathing space. Using a mantra, or focusing on the breath, are ways to encourage stillness. One teacher recommends thinking om on every breath, in and out.
  • Practically, especially at first, it is easier to set a timer so you are not worried about the time. Although one the trick the mind loves to play is to ask you if you really set/started the timer or may be it has broken while you weren’t looking. At the moment I am brought back by a nice om which is set as the alarm on my phone. Eventually you can meditate without a timer.
  • Start with five minutes, moving gradually to twenty or more. If you want a really intense meditation experience there is Vipassana Meditation available all over the world.
  • No matter how hard it was, savour the moment when you slowly open your eyes. Like practicing asana you will inevitably feel better after meditation.

Click here for 10 mins silent meditation with Shakti Mhi with whom I did my teacher training.

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