WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is a regular part of yoga practice, often conducted at the beginning or end of a yoga flow or both and has been around since the 6th to 5th centuries BCE. The English translation of meditation is to think, contemplate, devise, ponder.” Meditation is a large practice of eastern spiritual practices and is referred to as dhyana in Hinduism and Buddhism. Meditation is incredibly good for the mind, body, and soul and has been known to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, and pain while increasing inner peace and well being. It has also been known to be helpful in curing painful addictions. It is also currently being researched to determine it’s psychological, neurological and cardiovascular benefits. After regular meditation, many yogis report feeling a greater sense of calm in their lives, a greater ability to relax in stressful situations, more control over the mind, better sleep habits, and a more restful night’s sleep.
There are many different ways a person can meditate, and a number of different yoga poses intended for meditation. In meditation, the participant only needs to be a comfortable position where the body can completely relax. Participants engage in a technique known as mindfulness, or the clearing of one’s thoughts on a particular object thought or vision in order to train the brain to engage in a level of awareness with the present moment. As participants breathe slowly and continue to practice, they achieve mental clarity and a calm and stable emotional balance.
Buddhist meditation has become increasingly popular in the western world, which includes over fifty methods for improving mindfulness in the Theravada tradition, the most commonly used being breath meditation. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there are literally thousands of visualization meditations.
According to the Theravada, Sarvastivada, and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Buddha identified two paramount mental qualities that come from wholesome meditative practice:
-“Serenity” or “tranquility” which steadies, composes, unifies and concentrates the mind
-“Insight” which enables one to see, explore and discern “formations.”
Meditation is often difficult to start if you aren’t used to focusing your mind in this way, however, with regular practice, you will find it becomes easier to focus and clear your mind and become truly calm. A great method for getting started is simply to focus on the breath and paying close attention to the sensation of the body, imagining your limbs becoming heavier and relaxing deeper into the earth. You can also focus on an idea or feeling, or perhaps a mantra. This is known as single point meditation. In “No thought” methods of meditation, the “practitioner is fully alert, aware and in control of their faculties but does not experience any unwanted thought activity.” (www.wikipedia.org.)
I personally feel that I have benefitted greatly from regular meditation. I feel that it has helped to make me more mentally strong and capable of letting go of the stresses in my life that I can’t change. When I’m meditating regularly as part of my yoga practice, I definitely feel more peaceful and calm with my children, I sleep better and overall I’m happier.
For more on my journey with yoga and meditation and how it helps me to be a better mom, check out my blog at www.howsitflowin.com.