DAY 30. Read to the end for your challenge/question of the day
Meditation is the active process of encouraging stillness in the mind. When practicing meditation we temporarily withdraw the mind from the onslaught of daily pressures and tune into an inner oasis of calm. Even a few minutes of meditation each day can drastically improve our ability to cope with everyday life and help us develop an awareness of our inner self.
Studies have shown that anxiety and stress levels can be reduced effectively through meditation, which also has a remarkable healing effect on the physical body. Requiring no athletic skill at all, meditation can be an ideal practice for those suffering illness or recovering from an injury.
People have been practicing meditation for centuries. We may experience something akin to meditation when we focus intensely on a game of chess, a piece of music or a math problem. The difference between this state of mind and meditation is one of depth. Meditation is absolute – during meditation the mind and the subject of concentration become one. For many people, meditation marks the beginning of their spiritual path in yoga.
Meditation involves a subtle act of “letting go” and it is not something that you can learn through sheer hard work. Moving from ordinary consciousness into meditation is analogous to the transition between walking and sleeping – by nature it is not an action that can be willed. Also like sleep, meditation is not something that you are aware of when you are “in it” – you usually recognize a meditative state only after you have left it.
To being meditation practice, find a quiet place where you will be warm, comfortable and undisturbed – the point of minimizing distractions is simply to make meditation easier. Try to make a habit of meditating in this place so that you learn to associate it with a state of focused concentration. If your meditation space is not a quiet or private as you would like it to be, just do the best with what you have. In theory, it is quite possible to meditate successfully in a street full of busy traffic!
Find a comfortable sitting position and begin your chosen meditation exercise. If you lose concentration, gently and uncritically guide your mind back to the focus of your meditation, whether it is your breath, the flame of a candle or a mantra. Don’t rush at meditation – it comes in its own time – be patient and practice often.
Beginners should aim to meditate for 10 – 15 minutes at a time, if possible. Once you feel able to do this, try gradually to increase the length of each session until you are meditating for 30 minutes (longer if you wish) once or twice a day. That said, if you find yourself sitting for 30 minutes fretting that you cannot focus your mind, you are probably trying to do too much too soon. As you become more experienced at meditation, you will gain a feel for how long you should practice.
*Whenever you have the opportunity, it can be wonderful to do your meditation practice outside in a beautiful and tranquil environment.
How you sit when you are meditating is crucial for the simple reason that if you are uncomfortable it will be difficult for you to concentrate. You must be able to stay in your chosen posture for a prolonged period without pain or discomfort. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be so comfortable that you fall asleep!
One of the most important considerations when sitting down to meditate is the position of your spine, which should be long, upright and balanced to allow energy to flow freely and to ease awakening of the higher energy centers in the body.
5 popular postures used are:
- Full lotus
- Half lotus
The biggest challenge in meditation is training the mind to achieve a single point of focus. Many people find that a “tool”, such as the breath, a mantra, a mandala or even something as simple as the flame of a candle, can help to concentrate the mind for successful meditation. At first you may find that you are simply concentrating on your chosen object, but with practice, concentration turns into contemplation and, eventually, you and your object become indistinguishable and you experience the goal of meditation – perfect, unified stillness.
Read more about different meditation techniques
Breath Counting Meditation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/24/easy-meditation-technique_n_3313047.html
Mantra Meditation: http://www.finerminds.com/spirituality/mantras-for-meditation/
Candle Meditation: http://www.the-guided-meditation-site.com/candle-meditation.html
Yantra and Mandala Meditation: http://www.thompsondunn.com/newsletter2/page9.html
This concludes our September – 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister! We hope you have enjoyed it and perhaps even learned a few things about yoga and its many benefits.
Day 30 challenge:
Have you ever meditated? Is it something you are willing to try? How do you think it could help you?
Share with us in the comment box below.
All participants’ names will be entered in our 30 days of yoga with hipS-sister draw Oct. 1st.