July 2005 – Meditation

Meditation

(Dhyana – limb 7 of the Asthtanga Yoga 8 limbs of Yoga as taught in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali)
Being present (last months topic) is learned through meditation. Meditation is where we “practice” being present so we can more easily recall “what to do” while living our lives.

How to Meditate:
Just Sit! I agree that having a routine or technique can help us prepare for a meditation practice, however do not let the excuse of not having one keep you from trying. Sit and try to be aware of what is around you, now as you are aware, do not “think” about what you are noticing around you, do not label it as good or bad, pleasant or irritating. It just is.
Awareness with detachment:
Ancient Buddhists tell of the Buddhist Master who while his students sat in meditation would quietly sneak up behind them with a stick; if the student was deep in thought he did not hear the Master and would get hit over the head with a stick, if the student was in awareness he would hear the master and move aside before getting hit.
Meditate to be constantly observing, being alert; as if walking a tightrope.

How NOT to meditate
Meditation is not about psychoanalyzing your thoughts or yourself! This is rehashing the past, if we keep doing that we are not moving forward.
It is not about generating a good feeling or a secure feeling.
It is about awareness (waking up), being fully alive in the moment. Initially we are aware of the “gross” elements; the person in front of us, for example. As we deepen our awareness we become aware of what the person in front of us is saying or not saying “between the lines”. This helps us respond appropriately. This deepening of awareness will happen in many other areas of our life.

Is thinking so bad anyway? Meditation is not the absence of thought!
“Quit obsessing about whatever is swirling around in your mind!”
As you sit and meditate you slow down the brain waves, you clear out some of the “junk”. As this happens you may find clearer thought. This is why sometimes during meditation an “answer” (so to speak) comes to mind.
It is awareness of the Destructive thoughts vs. Constructive thoughts that meditation develops.
Yoga puts emphasis on controlling our thoughts because we identify with what is in our mind. Be aware when you are having a destructive thought and replace it with a constructive thought.

The calm amidst the chaos (de-stressing)
Why is yoga so highly recommended? One of the primary benefits; De-stress.
Yoga and meditation strengthen the mind; a strong mind is able to focus, a weak mind flits around wondering and worrying which lead to frustration and anxiety.
A strong mind keeps us focused during the dramas of our life, reducing stress.
A focused mind creates satisfaction, peace, happiness, and serenity.

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