The Practise of Yoga Meditation

padmasanaFollowing on from my article, Yoga Meditation, I will now go into the detail and practice of yoga meditation.

As I mentioned, to be able to practice yoga mediation takes a lot of dedicated hours of study and engagement. There are no short cuts I’m afraid, if you have trouble with this then it’s not for you. If on the other hand, it’s something you struggle with, and still want to work at then read on.

Let’s talk about posture. In your asana practice your teacher will hopefully remind you of posture, or correct alignment. Seldom do I hear the same for meditation practice. It is as vital to meditation as asana.

Correctly aligned for meditation requires us to sit with a neutral spine. This comes from a neutral pelvis, the two are vital to success. Please don’t think that laying down, or slumped against a wall is sufficient, it is not. You will soon fall asleep, or get lost in your thoughts. For us to sit with a neutral pelvis usually requires us to practice asana for many, many years. For the spine and pelvis to float in neutral, means we need to sit with the knees below the hips. If this is not possible, then use a prop such as a rolled mat under the back of the pelvis allowing the back of the pelvis to lift and the back to drop. This will cause the knees to drop. If this is still not possible then sit in vajrasana (kneeling) with a support between the thighs.

Once we have overcome our seated position, we then need to look at the mind. I think it helps to see the mind as part of the body (prakriti) and consciousness as our real selves (purusha) we can then start to see the mind as a separate entity. We then need to give the mind a task, and keep check it does what we tell it. So this could be a mantra, or tratak (drishti or candle gazing) it doesn’t really matter. The trick is to keep the mind on that practice.

In yoga meditation there are four stages, pratyahara , dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Pratyahara is usually described as sense withdrawal, but I prefer to think of it more as detaching ourselves from the outcome of senses. The second stage, dharana, is the practice of holding the awareness at a single point. This could be a mantra. The third stage, dhyana, is holding the awareness at a single point for extended periods, and out of this Samadhi emerges.

Out of this practice, an ability to control the mind emerges. We develop the ability to consider our actions before we react. We develop an ability to be discerning. From my own experience, an ability to stand back and view a situation, knowing it is merely a manifestation of a conditioned pattern of behaviour. Then we can make the changes we truly desire/need, and not based on reactions to external stimuli.

An exercise to start with would be. Every time a desire emerges, maybe the need to eat even though we have just eaten, arises, see that desire coming from the mind and not from you. See yourself as separate from your body and your mind. Start to practice with discernment, step back and view the emotional response this causes. Do this until the desire to eat passes.

This is just a brief excerpt from my upcoming book, Yoga Meditation.