Monday, September 8, 2008

Yoga and Meditation: Basics

Going back to basics. That is what meditation is all about. It is a state of consciousness that allows you to go beyond the limits of normal awareness. When you meditate, you focus the mind on one point and stifle all other thoughts. By stopping the waves of thoughts you understand your true nature and discover the wisdom and tranquillity that lies within you.

Meditation differs from deep sleep or relaxation in that it involves active mental effort rather than total rest. As well as relieving stress and replenishing energy, it can bring you physical, mental and spiritual peace. To achieve inner serenity, you must learn to quieten your mind and focus your mental energy inwards. If you meditate for half an hour daily, your thinking will become clearer and you will be able to face life with greater spiritual strength.

Do I have to adopt some special pose for meditation?

Yes. The ideal positions for meditation are the classic sitting postures, as these keep the prana, or vital energy, within your body. The Lotus, Half Lotus and Easy Pose are all suitable.

The ideal pose

Sit in one of the above mentioned meditation poses. Your head should be held straight and aligned with your back. Keep your spine and neck straight but not tense. Keep your eyes gently closed. Place your hands in a comfortable position. Form a circle with your thumb and index finger. Rest the backs of your wrists on your knees. You can also relax with your hands in your lap, palms upward, one on top of the other, or you may also clasp you hands gently and lay them in your lap as you meditate. Breathe quietly from your abdomen. Maintain a regular rhythm.

Focus all your attention and energy inward. Command your mind to be quiet. Begin by allowing your thoughts to wander, then select a focal point, such as an uplifting image, and concentrate on it. Bring your attention repeatedly back to the object of concentration so that you achieve an unbroken flow of thoughts. Initially, try to spend about half an hour every day in meditation.

Here's what you should remember before you begin meditation:

  • Set aside a special place for meditation - the atmosphere you build up will help still the mind.
  • Choose a time when your mind is free of everyday concerns - dawn and dusk are ideal.
  • Using the same place and time daily conditions the mind to slow down more quickly.
  • Sit with your back, neck and head in a straight line, facing north or east.
  • Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your meditation session.
  • Regulate your breathing. Start with five minutes - deep breathing, then slow it down.
  • Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern - inhaling then exhaling for about three seconds.
  • At first, let your mind wander - it will only grow more restless if you force it to concentrate.
  • Now bring the mind to rest on the focal point of your choice.
  • Hold your object of concentration at this focal point throughout your session.

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