Meditation in Plain English
It’s fairly easy to get the basic gist of yoga poses, even if you’re not very flexible. A bit of instruction teaches you how to talk yourself in and out of poses; you soon become your own teacher. Learning to meditate, however, is a bit more complicated to comprehend, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
Forget the word “enlightenment” for the time being
Meditation isn’t about fancy ideas or lofty philosophical concepts. Nor is it supposed to be some hard-to-do tactic for figuring out the meaning of life. All mediation really means is finding a sense of self in the present tense. OK, that sounds lofty and twisted, so let’s look at it a different way.
Bending the body to awaken the mind
When yoga was created over 5,000 years ago, the folks in India who came up with all the crazy contortions for a specific reason. They were looking to for a way to awaken the mind and calm it down at the same time.
When you contort your body into any pose, such as revolved triangle or a seated twist, you have to put a lot of thought into it. You are not soul-searching for some deep meaning in the pose. You are simply concentrating on your movement, listening to your body as you twist and turn and stretch. By focusing on the movement, you become anchored in the present tense-in loftier terms we would say we are “finding the now” or “living in the moment”.
It is good if the poses are hard
Yoga poses are supposed to be challenging, and they are. Certainly, there is the physical challenge, but the biggest reason most yoga students find yoga difficult is because there is so much involvement of the mind. The idea is that a tough pose demands you to use all of your brain power, so that you are forced to let go of distractive thoughts and negative vibes simply to get through your next contortion.
A challenging yoga sequence prepares you for meditation by making you draw your focus inward-toward yourself and away from the distractive energy that comes from the world around you. Do a good, strong yoga sequence and you’ll find that it is fairly easy to meditate at the end of it. Face it, whether you are doing your own yoga sequence in private or going to a studio or the gym, you’re not going to do Savasana in the middle of the sequence.
Gratitude is a huge component of mediation
When I teach classes at the gym, I often tell students to be grateful to themselves for their efforts in their yoga practice. A sincere effort in your practice makes you worthy or your own respect. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do the poses like a movie star, or as well as you neighbor. We meditate for self-acceptance and don’t beat ourselves up over pose performance.
Once we’re comfortable meditating at the end of a physical yoga sequence, we’re ready to try sitting for longer periods and working more with focusing the mind. We need to cleanse the body through physical practice in order to meditate for the purpose of happiness and to honor our physical self.
How stillness and movement are related in mediation
Stretching and moving the body does its part to “move” and “stretch” the mind so that it can see and interpret ideas differently than before. The same mind-body connection works when we meditate in stillness. When we are able to make the body still, we are able to create stillness in the mind.
It’s tough to sit still if we have a lot on our mind; that’s why we have a physical yoga practice, so we can cleanse the mind of distractions while simultaneously cleansing the body of toxins. The body calms down as you sweat and release the physical toxins, and the calm body then sends the message to the mind to start relaxing. A relaxed brain in turn tells the body to relax even more. The mind and body then achieve a harmonious state as we move into stillness and mediation.
Yogasync Me! Poses and guided meditation here: