27 Sep Meditation for the Mind & Body
We are all prone to the stress and worry at one time or another. We all dream of a more serene life. Physical activity (including the practice of yoga asanas) is a very good solution to deter the mind of daily thoughts but it is not always enough… Only meditation provides a genuine internal rebalancing and brings an exquisite sense of well-being and relaxation.
But what does meditation really mean and how to achieve this meditative state?
Here’s your guide to achieving higher state of consciousness and bringing peace into your daily life.
Back to basics… What is “meditation”?
Contrary to what one might think, the word “meditation” does not describe the technique but the result of an intense concentration. Meditation is the state (Dyana) in which we enter when we manage to cut our senses (Pratyahara) and to focus on a single thought (Dharana). There is absolutely no “mind shutting” but the idea is rather to achieve to control the mind and only focus on one thought at a time (a mantra, a number, a picture, sound, etc.).The idea here is to soothe the mind and clarify our ideas to be more present in every moment of our lives.
Time to get ready : preparing for meditation
The preparation for meditation is crucial because the environment greatly influences our ability to focus and relax.
The right time
The time of day chosen for meditation is also very important. Of course you will have to juggle work, family time and other activities, but if you can, try to meditate at sunrise or sunset. The yoga sutras (basically the Bible of yoga) recommend these moments of the day because they are highly “sattvic”, meaning that they have a good, pure and balanced energy. Morning is even better though because you just get out of bed and your mind hasn’t had time to wander yet… Anyway, try to have at least twenty minutes for yourself to meditate peacefully.
The right place
The place you choose is also an important factor for a good meditation practice. Try to find a calm and quiet place where you will not be distracted. You can also enhance your experience by lighting some candles and a stick of incense.
A proper posture
It is not a requirement to be seated in order to access the meditation. You may very well choose to meditate lying down, standing or even walking. However, it seems that sitting with your back straight makes it easier to stay focused. Lying, you may fall asleep!
The right attitude
To reach a meditative state, you will need to relax your body. Start bringing your attention on your breath and leave behind all thoughts about the past or the future. Focus on the present moment and try to turn your attention inwards: the sensations coming from your body, the rhythm of your breath…
The different techniques
It is possible to access meditation using different techniques but we selected those that are best suited to beginners:
Guided meditation or Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra or lucid sleeping is a relaxation technique that uses voice to guide breathing and visualization. Practiced generally in Savasana pose, Yoga Nidra can be focused on the parts of the body, asking to relax each part one after the other, or on the display of soothing images. Nowadays you can find lots of Yoga Nidra recordings on Youtube.
Mantra recitation (Japa meditation)
Choose a mantra (a word or phrase) and start reciting it and focusing on it and nothing else. Repeat it without stopping until you reach the Dyana. The mantra you choose can be a word in English that resonates to you: love, peace, compassion, etc. But you can also choose a traditional Sanskrit mantra like: Om (the sound of the universe), Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all), Tat (essential nature), etc.
You can also use Mala beads to help you meditate on a mantra. Simply hold your mala beads in your right hand, start at the guru bead, and use your thumb to count each smaller bead, traveling along the beads as you recite your mantra.
You can also choose to focus only on your breath and count your breaths. Counting each exhale or every second exhale will help keep your attention on one thought.And when you lose the count, then you must start over again at “one.”.
The benefits of meditation
There are so many benefits of meditation on the body and mind. And if you manage to dedicate twenty minutes each day to this practice you will start to feel them right away…
Relaxation of the body and mind
Meditation provides access to an intense state of relaxation and offers similar benefits to that of a power nap. However, it is easier to practice and will not make your judgment clouded, as would a nap.
Improving the ability to concentrate
If you followed our explanations, you now know that meditation is the result of extreme concentration. Practiced daily it significantly improves the ability of concentration and awareness of an individual.
Better stress management
Meditation is to master the mind and prevent it from wandering to a bunch of useless thoughts. So meditation helps to better manage stress by allowing to keep a clear head.
Combined with Asana (yoga postures), meditation is a powerful tool in this ever growing digital world.
Take some time out!