Meditation practices which focus on the awareness of thoughts, can be thought of as a time to allow reflection and integration of experiences. I’m not sure if other meditation practices have this effect. I have been practicing meditation daily for many years, Antar Mouna (Inner Silence). I do other meditation practices but not as much as Antar Mouna. Antar Mouna is a practice that deals with thought awareness in one of its stages.
Ultimately meditation can bring ones mind to a clarity and stillness when the space between the thoughts opens up and pure experience occurs. A still and focussed mind can arise, but not always.
The rest of the time meditation can be thought of as a reflection. An opportunity to witness the stuff in the head lying out of sight. Sitting and watching the thoughts, or more importantly the mind space and the activities in that space. It provides time for the mind to integrate experiences (impressions). We are shown the nature of the mind and also the content. Greater self understanding occurs, both the nature of the mind and its content becomes more clearly perceived. In the process we are able to let go of negative impressions, or at least gain the awareness they exist, thereby providing an opportunity that we can work to resolve them.
One outcome of meditation is that (in my experience) connections between things become established or clearer, sometimes during or after practice.
Another outcome is that the instances of insight and wisdom to arise more frequently and with more profound understandings.
There are of course other effects and benefits of practicing meditation. The others you can learn about for your self. Meditation is something that should be practiced much more often than it is talked about.
Please try the following meditation practice. Before you do, please set your intent and an initial number of days. You can if you so wish dedicate each days meditation practice to something or one etc. Decide how many days in a row you will practice, make it once a day to start with. For an intention try “I am going to practice meditation for 7 days regardless of how difficult it is. I am capable of success in this endeavor. “, or you can use and intention of your own choosing of course.
All negative feelings about the practice including those that relate to your ability to “do meditation” should be ignored without reservation. It is more important to follow the sequence (the mechanics) of the practice than it is the expectations and/or the dialog in your head about it. To quote Yoda (if you’re a Star Wars fan) “do or do not, there is no try”. So just do the meditation and ignore your opinion about it is 🙂
- Sit comfortably. Attempt to get a straight spine (good posture). Use a chair, or what ever, but sit upright.
- Close the eyes and become aware of the physical body.
- Let go of any effort to breath, the body will do that
- Allow the body to settle into physical stillness while you move your awareness around parts of the body like; feet, legs, etc. really feel the body part, place your awareness there, notice the sensations in that part of the body.
- Now place awareness on your breathing – observation only
- After some time (you choose) become aware of the mind space
- Reverse out of the practice when you are ready to finish
- back to the breath for a bit
- back to the body for a bit
- gently start moving the head neck SMALL movements
- gradually take your time to fully externalize and start moving more
- This is no Antar Mouna, it is a stripped down meditation technique that does work.
There are no timings given.
Approaches to use the practice
A: Memorize the basic sequence. Use your memory to guide you. Then start at the beginning and follow that instruction until you feel its time to move on.
B: Record the practice sequence with your own timings. Smart phones have a voice recorder, or buy a voice recorder. May laptops built-in mike. Suggested timings are 2 minutes each section.
C: Get a friend or family member to guide you through it. Guide each other 🙂
Please try. Then maybe explore different meditation techniques there is always YouTube 🙂
Once you find a meditation practice that works for you, stick with it through thick and thin. Digging many holes gets you nowhere. Dig in the same place and the hole will go deep.
I wish you every success.
Posted in Contemplations, Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)
The information below was originally shared for those attending the event to taught called “Path to Freedom” at the British Wheel of Yoga North West day of yoga (November 28th 2015). The information be useful for subsequent events or for students wanting some pointers to explore yoga for themselves.
[Note: 28th November 2015. The quotes used during the day of yoga have been added at the request of some of those students present.]
Areas of study and practice:-
- Physical yoga postures
- Mudras such as Chin mudra
- Pranayama – Specifically in this context Nadhi Shodana also known as Alternate nostril breathing
- Pratyahara – Shanmuki Mudra or possibly Bramari pranayama
- Meditation – Specifically in this context Antar Mouna or Inner Silence
- Karma yoga
Further reading (see book list for exact details):-
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika
- Gheranda Samhita
- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – mainly chapter 1 and 2
- Edge of Infinity – chapters 3, 5, 6 and 7
- Bhagavad Gita – chapters 3 and 6
- Yoga Darshan – Starting on pages 59, 87, 107, 226 until end of section
99% practice 1% theory
(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois)
“Raja yoga is in practice an exploration and training of the mind. Ultimately this leads to complete mastery and understanding of the mind.”
“Those who are enamoured of practice without theory are like a pilot who goes into a ship without rudder or compass and never has any certainty where he is going. Practice should always be based upon a sound knowledge of theory.”
(Leonardo da Vinci)
“The Yoga Sutra, is not a philosophy book to be studied with the intellect or ordinary mind, but rather it is an experiential workbook that is revealed by an open heart. Wisdom is by its nature, trans-rational and transconceptual — broader than any manmade conception or constructed thought wave, and Patanjali everywhere confirms that hypothesis. Wisdom as well as intellect comes from an innate sourceless intelligence of the universal boundless mind”
(Online PDF, reference available from yoga-bija.me.uk)
“The path of Karma Yoga gives us the possibility of expanding our awareness and deepening perception whilst acting in the world.”
(Edge of Infinity, page 223)
“Karma yoga means to perform work with awareness and to the best of our ability, without being attached to the outcome.”
(Edge of Infinity, page 223)
“In our daily life our minds are almost continually externalized. We see and hear only what is going on outside of us, and we have little understanding of the events taking place in our inner environment. The practice of antar mouna is designed to turn this around, so that for at least a short period we can see the workings of our mind and understand them. In reality antar mouna is one of the few ‘permanent sadhanas’ which can be practised spontaneously all the twenty four hours of the day by anyone who is really determined to know oneself.”
(Meditations from the tantras, page 211)
Posted in About Yoga, Developing a Personal Practice, Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)
What are the yoga sutras? The yoga sutras explain what the essence of yoga is, how to practice yoga, and describe the challenges we face along the way. It’s a guidebook if you like. For those who attend physical yoga and think they are doing yoga, well they might be or might not be. One way to understand if you are “doing yoga”, and what is important, is to explore the Yoga Sutras. There are other books that are also important, and supplement the yoga sutras. The yoga sutras are the one scientific explanation of yoga that helps bring clarity in a way no other book I have found does. Other books such as the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads also have essential teachings explained in different ways and from different perspectives. The yoga sutras however, are complete and scientific in their approach.
What scientific approach in yoga? The phrase scientific approach probably conjures up imagery of machines and instruments. In actual fact scientific and empirical approaches are encouraged in yoga on a personal level so we can prove for ourselves and not have to believe in anything. Yoga is only known, understood and benefited from when it is activly practiced, and therefore experienced first hand. In fact the reason we have such books as the Yoga Sutras, and various different traditions based on yoga, is because the techniques and understanding of yoga does work repeatedly for people and has done since yoga began thousands of years ago. When looking at the definition of empirical evidence you will see its very compatible with this scientific yoga approach; “Empirical evidence, data, or knowledge, also known as sense experience, is a collective term for the knowledge or source of knowledge acquired by means of the senses, particularly by observation and experimentation. The term comes from the Greek word for experience, (empeiría)” (wikipedia empirical evidence). Should you look at definition of the scientific approach, you would also see this is compatible with the approach in yoga, especially the yoga sutras. You could say yoga is simple, it’s been proven, and we can follow the guidance of others to prove it for ourselves. It’s not of course, the ego, and subtly make it more interesting.
What form do the sutras take? The yoga sutras in physical form are a book containing many versus (196). Each verse uncovers and highlights an important aspect of yoga and it’s practice. The book is divided into 4 chapters. The first two (Samadhi and Sadhana) being the most important chapters to start with. Most books that explore the yoga sutras will have, in addition to the 4 chapters; an introduction, some commentary and other usefull information. Not all yoga sutra books contain the elements mentioned. The four chapters are, as worded by Swami Satchidinanda’s version:-
- Contemplation (Samadhi Pada) – The explanation of the essential concepts and essence of yoga
- Practice (Sadhana Pada) – The explanation of how yoga can be practiced
- Accomplishments (Vibhuti Pada) – The details of the by products of practicing yoga
- Absoluteness (Kaivalya Pada) – The experience of the experience of yoga we are working towards experiencing
How are they explained? Sanskrit is the language used by yogis, and this is the case in the yoga sutras. Therefore most books talking about the yoga sutras will have, for each sutra; the sanskrit, the transliteration, the essence of the sutra in english and maybe some commentry for that sutra. there might also be an introduction to the book, and maybe a short introduction to each chapter. Sanskrit is a sound based alphabet/language and as such many of the benefits of sanskrit are realised when words are spoken, chanted or used as a mantra. Sounds have a power, odd you may think, but I have proven to myself repeatadly that sounds have an effect. Om repeated a few times stills the mind and brings calm. Repeating some mantras does induce a different feeling than other mantras.
Posted in Raja Yoga (Yoga Sutras)