Yoga meditation a perfect technique for mindful awareness
Taking time to sit back and let the mind withdraw from the outer world to our inner world helps us immensely to maintain physical and mental health without yoga practice of any asanas. The physical aspect of Yoga with its asana (posture) practice is but a means to focus the mind inwards through means of Meditation.
Meditation is a part of yoga
Yoga is much more than just a form of physical exercise. It is based on meditative energy which when harnessed through mental focus helps us discover the true meaning of life. The use of breath alignment while practicing asanas is a way to connect to our mind and discover its power to lead us to blissful relaxation. External focus on materialistic world keeps us on the edge with discontent and unhappiness. We learn to turn inwards and discover bliss that comes from meditation.
The ancient Indian philosophy of yoga lays down eight limbs or Ashtanga, the first three being external observances while the latter five limbs teach us the techniques to reach a state of realisation. Using Asana (physical exercises ) and Pranayama (breathing methods) practices to attain equilibrium and lightness of body, Yoga leads us toward Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (single minded focus) and Dhyana (Meditation) to reach Samadhi (Self realisation).
Yoga is a powerful tool for evolving into higher beings and the path is to harness the ever moving mind into stillness and thereafter, true knowledge. Yoga is but a way of life to master the intricate pattern through which we grow and Meditation is the science that helps us reach the innermost core of our consciousness in order to grow by knowing the true nature of our own Self.
Yoga nidra as a tool for meditation
Following verbal instructions to still the body and settle the mind is Yoga Nidra or Yogic sleep. In this method we withdraw from our senses of sight, taste, touch, smell and simply keep listening to a script that allows us to move into deeper levels of relaxation. This process enables us to let us tap into our subconscious , helping us to reach a state of deep sleep while still being aware of the outer world.
The practice of Yoga Nidra teaches us how to meditate and explore the various levels of our mind. We remain in a state of mental stillness until we are guided into external awareness. The experience of letting go of worldly awareness and delving deep into the recesses of the mind endows refreshing release. Meditation is but a step away with stillness becoming a part of our psyche, gradually attaining a detached state from a familiar universe and getting more comfortable with our inner universe.
Meditation benefits enormously
Stilling the mind and directing its focus inwards goes a long way in eliminating numerous niggling ailments both physically and psychologically. We need to understand that most of our health problems are psychosomatic. Many chronic issues that do not respond to medication may have their roots in mental factors such as stress, inner conflicts, emotional disturbances or anxiety. Meditation helps us in reaching the origin of various physically manifested disorders. These may include migraines, breathlessness, hypertension, chest pain among other complaints.
Through meditation we can train our mind to settle and redirect our thoughts which helps us move away from stressful thoughts and anxiety.
Regular meditation creates heightened awareness of our own self and of our surroundings. This has proved to be beneficial in creating a positive state of mind which in turn reduces the intensity and gradually eliminates afflictions.
Research has confirmed the fact that meditating on a daily basis brings stress under control and uplifts moods. A stressful lifestyle releases the hormone cortisol which causes sleeplessness, brings about depression, raises blood pressure and results in memory loss and unclear thinking. Meditation techniques when inculcated as part of life brings down incidences of stress-related symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, fibromyalgia to name a few. Stress can also cause personality disorders like phobias, OCD and panic attacks. The ideal way to correct these is through meditation which calms the nervous system and makes the person stronger in character.
Enhanced self- awareness triggered by consistent meditation endows the power to recognize negativity in us and turn our thoughts around to be positive and joyful.
Increase in attention span and concentration, reduction in age-related dementia, getting rid of addictions, improvement in restful sleep patterns, higher pain threshold and patience – these are some of the extremely good outcomes of habitual meditation.
Meditation retreats to kickstart your spritual journey?
All over the world we now have Yoga and spiritual centres that offer meditation retreats. These programs and workshops guide you into better self awareness and bring about inner change. Here you are guided towards understanding your thoughts patterns, habits and impulses. You are trained in creating a positive environment within and around you in order to understand what needs to be released rather than suppressed.
Such retreats would hold group sessions of focus-oriented meditation where you would be directed to use chants or mantras, visual images or sounds and vibrations that help build concentration so vital for meditation.
Such retreats offer a supportive platform wherein to understand the science and philosophy behind meditation under supervision and guidance.
Beginners looking for the meditative way to better health and to reduce stress would find such centres that teach Yoga and Meditation really helpful.
Yoga and meditation classes for learners
The fundamentals of Yoga and Meditation are best learned from trained and experienced teachers who hold classes. Understanding the underlying principles of practicing Yoga and becoming adept in the art of letting go in Meditation takes time, patience and effort and your journey in this direction would be smooth and error-free when guided by an expert in the field. An invigorating and an exhilarating experience is yours to be had when you decide to make Yoga and Meditation a part of your life.
How to meditate?
Once you get the hang of meditating it can be practiced anywhere and anytime. All you need to do is to come into a meditative pose such as Sukhasana, Swastikasana (cross legged ) or even Vajrasana (on knees) or Padmasana (Lotus Pose) if it is comfortable ideally on a mat on the ground and not on a higher surface. Thos unable to sit on the floor can use a straight-backed chair with feet firmly on the ground.
The fingers have to be placed in a Mudra (gesture) which generally would be the Chin Mudra where the forefinger is held against the thumb and the other three fingers are held closed with the palms turned upwards on the thighs.
One can sit against a wall to avoid body discomfort from disturbing the meditative process.
The place chosen to meditate should be silent and peaceful with nothing to jerk the practitioner out of meditation before the mind is prepared to come out of it.
Holistic health depends on how often you meditate
However adept you may be in Yoga poses or whatever may be the level of flexibility and strength you have gained through asana practice, your yoga practice is incomplete without the inclusion of Meditation in your daily routine.
The importance of Meditation has to be experienced to be understood. Dramatic improvement in health issues, developing a better immunity, change in personality towards become more patient, gentle and less irritable, clarity in thinking and enhanced memory and above all freedom from stress-related disorders can be seen in those who habitually meditate.