What is Meditation, Anyway?

by | Meditation

If you think you never meditated, I beg to differ. Anytime you’ve concentrated on anything to the exclusion of everything else, you have meditated! My Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda said meditate on “Anything the delights the mind”.

First, find a comfortable seat. Actually, this is why the Yoga postures were “invented.” In order to be comfortable for long periods of meditation, the body must be flexible and light, hence forward bends, backbends, inversions and twists. Hatha Yoga prepares the body by squeezing out all the bad juju.

After you get comfy–and it can be sitting on the floor, on top of a pillow or cushion, or in a chair–get your spine long and tall. If you’re in a chair, have the feet on the floor. If you’re on the floor, sit cross-legged or with your feet under you, a pose called Vajrasana. This pose, by the way, is great for digestion and can be very helpful during the holiday season when we’re likely to overeat!

Once you’re in your comfy pose, begin to watch your breath. Enjoy the sensations of the breath moving in and out of the nostrils. Or you can watch the belly expand and contract on each inhale and exhale. This is meditation! If you want to get fancy, you can begin to do a mantra repetition. I prefer the Sanskrit mantras because of their innate power. Words like Om shanthi, Hare Krishna Hare Rama, or Om Namah Sivaya carry a vibration that brings you deeper into cosmic consciousness. Any time your mind wanders away from your object of concentration, whether it’s your breath or a sacred mantra, simply notice that the mind has wandered and gently bring it back to your breath or mantra.

Start by doing a 10-15 minute practice at least once a day. Gradually build up to 30 minutes or longer, and allow the mind to settle into the background as you enjoy the feelings of peacefulness and equanimity. To finish your meditation session, say a selfless prayer that the benefits of your practice will go to everyone, everything. In Integral Yoga we end by saying “May the whole creation be filled with peace and joy, love and light”. This is my prayer for you today and always.

If you’d like to learn more meditation styles and practices, my book, Big Yoga for Less Stress has several chapters on the subject. A regular meditation practice will enhance your connection to your Self, alleviate depression and confusion, and bring more joy into your life, making you a gift of love to all you meet.

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