Yoga Meditation

“If we allow those thoughts to rise, accepting the emotional experiences that come with them and don’t react to them, we begin to unravel unwanted patterns that we no longer need”

This article is supported by over 40 years of experiences through meditation, like most seekers I have tried many systems of meditation, only to come to the conclusion that the answer was with me all the time.

While being deeply involved in my asana practice, I would, and do slip seamlessly into meditation without looking for, or setting out to achieve this state it would spontaneously happen. I would for brief instances, see inside my body and become aware of the timelessness of myself and the universe. The experience left me with the impression of what it’s like to be as “one” both as an individual, and as part of all existence.

I have also achieved this state in seated meditation. The experience, once realised would end immediately I became aware of it. But the knowledge remained. The danger is, of course, we try and emulate the circumstances so as to repeat the experience. This of course does not work, as soon as we attach an outcome, we no longer meditate.

So, the question to answer was, after trying different systems of meditation and never realizing the same insights as I did with my usual practice, what was the key. I do have the answer. It seems obvious to me now, but it did take a long time to fully understand the connection between my asana practice and my meditation practice. But then it does take a long time, a minimum of ten years daily practice is required to master any one method, or posture.

I have been to meditation classes, where we were told to sit and to stop our thoughts. This is impossible of course, we will always have thoughts. The question is whether we decide to engage with those thoughts. If we allow those thoughts to rise, accepting the emotional experiences that come with them, without reacting to them, we begin to unravel unwanted patterns that we no longer need. If on the other hand, we react to those thoughts, we get lost in possible future outcomes based on previous experiences. This compounds existing patterns, and we keep on endlessly doing things that cause problems and making obstacles to our progress.

What then is the link between our asana practice and our seated meditation practice? What are the key elements of an asana practice? Breath, Bandha, and Dristhti. When applied to our asana practice fully, and not just as a concept, we achieve the state of Samadhi in motion. When we sit correctly aligned for meditation, we apply the same disciplines. To achieve this in both seated and asana does require us to practice daily for many years. There are no short cuts.

To be able to sit for extended periods, and hold our awareness at a single point does take a lot of effort and single mindedness. To be able to sit and be comfortable for long periods, does require us to put in many years of asana practice. It is the combination of these disciplines that is the key to achieving the state of union. There are of course more considerations to take on board here. I have been brief for now, and I will go much deeper in my next article, titled: The practice of Yoga meditation.

Martin Thompson