Meditation. Intro note.
“Meditation will not carry you to another world, but it will reveal the most profound and awesome dimensions of the world in which you already live. Calmly contemplating these dimensions and bringing them into the service of compassion and kindness is the right way to make rapid gains in meditation as well as in life.” – Zen Master Hsing Yun
Often I hear - “you are a yoga teacher, your asana practice must be spectacular. Can you show us a split or a handstand?” Or “your meditation skills must lift you over the ground”. None of this is as they imagine that. I am a human being that wakes up every morning and tries its best - as everyone one of us. My asana practice reflects amounts of work I have put in that, my physical body abilities and a little bit of courage - to work, hard, every day.
But all of you, who have already had a chance to practice with me, know that I am a strong believer of dealing with yoga as a WHOLE. Yoga is not only the physical workout and intense stretching, but the union of my body and mind. As the definition of yoga claims. Through movement I breathe, I take my time to contemplate and just be - in this very moment. As easy as it sounds, it takes time to calm down your mind, to feel the connection between - what is happening in your heart, in your head and how your physical body reacts to that.
While discovering different aspect of yoga, I studied the books, I practiced asanas, I learned about philosophy, I listened to other teachers, their sharings, teachings and observations, I was collecting my own impressions. But meditation? It came as last. I simply couldn’t imagine myself in this process. I imagined it myself as disconnection from reality and becoming a PEACE.
Thank God I met people on my way who shared their experience with meditation, who were capable of guiding me through my first steps in this sphere, who didn’t expect me to get it all at once. So if you ask me, how to start with meditation, Ian happy to share few tips from my own experience. But please do not treat this text as a one and only way of doing things.
What is meditation?
Lets start from there. There is as many definitions as books, websites, etc. Modern definitions are leading us to the so common word - mindfulness. I am a huge fun of mindfulness, work on it, make it part of your daily routines - be mindful, be present in everything you do. But meditation is more than that. To all of you who would like to deepen your knowledge, I recommend you to study Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. But before you deep-dive into yoga philosophy that will help you to understand, what meditation is, read the capture by Nicki Doane which I decided to quote here as it shortly expresses - what is the meditation.
“As one progresses in their spiritual practice, the asanas and pranayama (poses and breathwork) lead organically to a mind that can begin to concentrate (dharana). When concentration has been achieved, then the mind is ready for the higher realms of meditation (dhyana). True meditation as Patanjali defined it is much deeper and profound than we can imagine. It is here in this state that we begin to practice self-realization, or the art of getting to know ourselves better and better. When we are in true absorption or meditation, the differences we may believe about ourselves and others begin to fade away. This is the juiciest part of the practice, and it’s here that we start to catch glimpses of what samadhi, or enlightenment, truly is. As Bob Marley says, we are all one love—the only walls of separation are created by the human ego.”
Why is it worth trying? How do I benefit from a regular meditation practice?
Good things coming out of the regular practice.
- It helps to reduce stress
- Can decrease blood pressure
- Controls anxiety
- Promotes emotional health
- Enhances self-awareness
- Lengthens attention span
- May reduce age-related memory loss
- Can generate kindness
- May help fight addictions
- Improves sleep
- Helps control pain
How to start?
Honestly, I recommend you to join meditation guided by the gurus and teachers who are experienced, who will guide you and will hold the space for you. If you have a chance to join a guided session or a meditation workshop in the place you live, or where you travel - give it a try. I have started with so called “mindful apps”. Some of them are a great way to get your mind and body used to stillness.
One of my teachers from Rishikesh told us once during practice, that meditation can happen everywhere and in every moment. Whenever you find stillness and concentration, you can already call it a start.
I have recently joined the meditation workshop with Punnu Wasu. What an intense experience it was! We’ve been given a solid introduction, yoga philosophy background, we have been asked questions about our physical and mental health. And we have also been given an introduction - how the session will be led. Punnu and two assisting teachers were holding space for us, so that we could just fall into this process and release whatever we have been holding. I trusted them fully.
I strongly believe that your experience is based on various factors, on the moment, your body condition, your mental state and several other aspects. You never know, where your mind will take you.
“With every breath, the old moment is lost; a new moment arrives. We exhale and we let go of the old moment. It is lost to us. In doing so, we let go of the person we used to be. We inhale and breathe in the moment that is becoming. In doing so, we welcome the person we are becoming. We repeat the process. This is meditation. This is renewal. This is life.” – Lama Surya Das