Hello everyone. In our previous discussions, I have mentioned meditation as part of Yoga. In this article, we are going to focus more on yoga meditation.
Aside from the general fitness of the body, it is also important that we actively work the overall fitness of the mind.
Read on and find out more about yoga meditation along with some helpful tips for beginners.
What Is Yoga Meditation?
Yoga meditation is both a science and an art that involves the systemic observing, understanding, accepting and training of every level of one’s being in order to coordinate as well as integrate the different aspects of our being and be able to dwell in the direct experience of one’s center of consciousness.
It is important to point out that yoga meditation is not a separate aspect of yoga. This is because, yoga in itself involves meditation. We are mainly using the term yoga meditation in order to distinguish it from the more popular concept of yoga as a form of fitness exercise involving physical postures.
In the traditional yoga meditation, an individual systemically works with his/her senses, breath, body, the different levels of the mind, and goes beyond it, towards the center of one’s consciousness. Yoga meditation also involves a broad range of different practices such as contemplation, mantra, prayer as well as a number of preparatory practices for meditation.
Through yoga meditation, you will be able to explore the different levels of reality and self-construction. It leads you to experience the absolute, eternal and pure center of consciousness.
Different Methods Of Yoga Meditation
There are a number of ways one can meditate. For beginners, the very first stage of yoga meditation involves the concentration on a specific object or the establishment of a point of focus, which you can perform with your eyes closed or open.Among the recommended methods of establishing a point of focus involves the visualization of an image, audibly reciting a chant or prayer, repeating a phrase or word, and focusing on a still object. Other alternative methods also include counting or observing one’s breath and noticing different bodily sensations.
Yoga Meditation Through Use Of Sound
Mantra yoga uses a particular phrase, sound or a word of affirmation as the point of focus. Mantra, comes from the word man¸ which translates “to think” and tra, which means “instrumentality.” Mantra therefore means an instrument of thought. The act of repeating a mantra is known as japa, or recitation.
Chanting is an extension of mantra yoga, which is known to be one of the powerful ways to enter the state of meditation. There are chants that are longer than mantras, which involve pitch and rhythm. The traditional Indian chanting believes the use of creative sound and harness its potential to transport us towards an expanded state of awareness. The primordial sound Om, is believed as the seed of other sounds.
For beginners, mantra is one of the best way to start yoga meditation since its relatively easy and effective. If you are intimidated to performing their own chants, you can consider purchasing a audiotape of chants or participate in a group, where the meditation teacher initiates the chants and the students repeat it.
Yoga Meditation Using Imagery
Another effective way to meditate is through visualization, which most beginners find quite easy. In the past, a meditator typically visualizes his/her chosen deity, but any object can also be used.
To practice yoga meditation using imagery, you can start by visualizing an object of nature such as an ocean or flower. Others are known to meditate on the different energy centers of the body or the chakras.
Yoga Meditation Through Gazing
Another form of yoga meditation is through an open-eyed focus on a specific point of focus. Objects can vary depending on personal preference although the more popular choice is the use of candle, a flower on a vase and a picture.
Yoga Meditation Through Breathing
Another point of focus that can be used is one’s breathing. You can perform this by focusing on counting your breaths. This forces the mind to observe the breath as it is, using it as the sole object of meditation.
Yoga Meditation Through Physical Sensations
Another yoga meditation method is observing physical sensations, which can also involve watching your breathing. This promotes increased sensitivity to different sensations of the body, including emotion and area specific area of discomfort or strength.
Benefits of Yoga Meditation
Various research conducted through the tears have confirmed what many yogis have already known during the ancient times. There are a number of psychological and physiological changes that occur in the body during yoga meditation.
In a study, an EEG (electroencephalograph) was used to record mental activity. It has been established that during normal waking activity, the mind is constantly moving from one thought to another, as recorded in the jerky and rapid lines registered by the EEG. When a person goes into deeper meditation, the brain activity gradually decreases, registering a smoother and significantly slower pattern of activity, known as theta waves.
This shows slower rate of perspiration and respiration, accompanied by the decrease in metabolic waste. Regular meditation has been established to lower blood pressure as well as enhance the immune system. In addition, the health benefits of yoga meditation reflects both physical and mental effects, especially in helping people better manage stress as well as promote enhanced health and emotional well-being. On a much deeper level, yoga meditation can teach you to be more aware, alert and alive.
Give Yoga Meditation A Try
As a beginner, you can give yoga meditation a try by finding a quiet place to meditate. Sit comfortably. Before you start, set your alarm for 10 minutes.
Simply Sit. For the next few minutes, commit to not doing anything but simply sitting still. Don’t do anything. Instead sit and observe the different thoughts and rise and pass through your mind. If this is your first time to meditate, you will be surprised at the extreme difficulty of merely sitting still for 10 minutes. However, this process will teach you the importance of the qualities of a highly active mind as well as the every changing nature of life.
Listen To The Sound Of Life. At this point you want to close your eyes and tune into the different sounds that percolate around and within you. Open your ears and be more receptive to the noises and try to recognize the different layers of sound that you may have overlooked or tuned out. Notice how the world is alive around you.
Practice Attention. Take notice of the different raw sensations such as hardness and softness, warmth and coolness, ease and pressure, etc. Observe how your body shifts with every breath you take. Cultivate a growing awareness of the present. Over time, this will help you foster a more attentive and serene mind.
Follow Your Breath. Focus on your breathing. When you are breathing in, allow your mind to recognize and follow the action of inhaling, then exhaling. Do not attempt to manipulate your breathing. Simply observe.
Use a Mantra. Choose a favorite phrase, word, poem, or prayer and slowly and softly repeat it. Allow its meaning and rhythm to lull you into a contemplative state.
Practice Kindness. As you sit there quiet, think of someone that you think may benefit from extra act of kindness and care. In your mind, try to send this person some happiness and love. Allow your skin to relax and open the floodgates of your heart and simply allow goodwill to freely flow.
That’s it. It’s not really difficult but it will require practice to fully enjoy its benefits. You can also complement meditation with breathing techniques, and of course, along with yoga poses, especially savasana for overall health and wellness.