How to meditate properly
Everyday more and more people want to learn how to meditate. However, it is common for people to try it, but after the first experience, they run away. Believing that it’s not for them. It’s too complicated. Too boring. It’s painful in their body. They can’t stop their thoughts and many other reasons…
This normally happens because they haven’t built a proper foundation. It’s like learning to swim in the middle of the ocean instead of learning in an area of the beach where the water is not so deep, or higher than your neck!
To learn meditation, the smoothest way is to build a foundation progressively. Preparing the physical body and the mental body for the practice of meditation.
Meditation and mindfulness practices are ancient techniques that help you to improve your health and wellbeing, Developing your inner awareness that enables you to re-connect and understand yourself more.
Meditation and mindfulness are also powerful practices to use as a tool to manage the modern way of living. Our daily life is based by the standards of modern life; competitively, productivity, individuality, socioeconomic pressure and so on, so our stress levels are very high. Living constantly in these daily stressful situations can initiate diseases such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression, hypertension, cardiac disease.
Those who learn meditation often say they feel less stress, think clearer.
Two different worlds
In the old days, as a society we were far more active. People used their physical bodies a lot more in daily life. There wasn’t the same commodities as we have nowadays. As an example, just to cook a meal, they would have to cut wood. Walk to get their water from a well or stream with a bucket and carry it.
In the modern society, we live a more sedentary lifestyle. Our ancestors had the physical body to be able to sit still for meditation.
Also, in the old days, people weren’t exposed to as much stimulation like we are today. We live in an era of information and technology. we get constant stimulation from our smart phone, big TV screens, computers and advertising. It creates so much stimulation in our brains, that it affects our state of mind. Which makes it much more difficult to be able to concentrate for the practices of meditation, then our ancestors.
Creating a foundation for meditation
Before you start to meditate, it is essential to lay a strong foundation. I like to describe it like building a house. If you don’t have strong foundations the house can fall or will not be stable.
Yoga continuously adapts to the times. Making the practices of yoga and meditation accessible for everyone today as they were in previous centuries. Yoga offers you practices that systematically create and develop a proper foundation for meditation.
Here I’m presenting 3 essential pillars to create a solid foundation for meditation.
1. Preparing the physical body
In the yoga tradition, the yoga asana (postures), the physical part of yoga, were developed and adapted to prepare the body for meditation.
Today, many people think that yoga postures are these acrobatic postures that are really common to see in social media. To practise or to be ‘good at yoga’, you don’t have to be able to wrap your leg around your neck. You can find out more about this topic by clicking here.
The best practices to prepare the body for meditation are the Pawnmuktasana series. A series of ancient practices developed and adapted to the modern world by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the founder of the Bihar School of Yoga.
This group of preparatory yoga practices has a very deep effect on the physical body and on the mind. Especially when practised with awareness.
They work on the joints and relax the muscles of the body, yet at the same time building strength in the body. They are simple, gentle, and can be practised by anyone: young, elderly, beginners through too experienced practitioners.
2. Use breathing practices to control the mind
There isn’t a more trusted and reliable friend than your breath. You can learn so much about your current state, physically, mentally, and emotionally by observing how your breath is flowing.
The way you breath has a significant impact on your state of mind and your wellbeing. Breath and body are interrelated just as the breath and mind are also.
The pranayama practices (breathwork) are ancient breathing techniques from the yoga system. It is said that pranayama is the bridge which connects the physical body with the mind.
When you practice pranayama techniques, you become aware of the breath and gradually the external awareness diminishes. The internal awareness expands, allowing you to prepare the mind for meditation.
We have a large variety of pranayama practices in our tradition. We classify them into different categories to apply to different situations and needs.
The breathing techniques that we use when preparing for meditation are from the categories of Basic Breathing Techniques. “The Abdominal Breath,” Tranquillising breathing practices such as “Bhramari Pranayama (The humming Bee Breath).” And from the Balancing Pranayama “Nadi Shodhana (Alternative Nostril breathing)”, click here to learn more about Nadi Shodhana.
Learn how to relax the body on all levels
How are you going to meditate, if you don’t learn how to relax your body? You must learn to relax the body on all levels. Releasing all the tensions accumulated from everyday life. The best way to achieve this is through the practice of Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra provides deep relaxation on many layers, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a conscious relaxation.
Through the regular practise of Yoga Nidra you learn how to relax and harmonise your body and mind, creating balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Inducing physical, emotional, and mental relaxation.
If you would like to learn more about Yoga Nidra, you can discover more by clicking here.
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