What is Meditation?
Meditation can be hard to explain without sounding woo-woo and esoteric to those who have never experienced it or are trying it for the first time. From my experience as a yoga teacher helping students to meditate, most students think they aren’t doing it “right” because their minds wander constantly. As I tell them, “welcome to the human condition of Monkey Mind.”
I’ll approach meditation from the perspective of yoga although there are other approaches and perspectives. In ancient India, the definition of yoga and why it was practiced was to still the changing states of the mind. That continues to be the purpose of yoga.
Our minds are constantly flitting from one thought to another. Most peoples’ attention spans are short and getting shorter. There are so many distractions: social media, text, email, mobile devices to name a few. I call the constantly flitting attention span “monkey mind”. Think of how monkeys behave –chattering away constantly at one another. Our minds chatter like that. The purpose of meditation is to quiet the chattering.
For many people in this country, yoga is all about the postures and moving in and out of them. In traditional yoga, the postures are just the beginning and their primary purpose is to prepare the body to sit comfortably for pranayama (controlled breathing) and meditation. Meditation is the goal and the postures and the breathing facilitate reaching that goal.
Meditation Isn’t Thinking
To summarize the above, meditation is definitely not thinking. Its purpose is to stop the thinking. Yoga philosophy says there are 5 activities of the mind: Comprehension; Misunderstanding; Imagination; Deep Sleep and Memory. These activities change constantly. It is through meditation that we quiet these activities. For more information see my blog post The 5 Activities of the Mind.
Modern science is proving what the Ancients knew all along … that meditation exposes and transforms our conditioning and transforms our personalities. Doctors are prescribing it regularly now as a way to reduce stress and stress related disease.
A Meditation Practice
On the surface, meditation looks so simple. You just sit in one spot, with eyes closed and breathe. But, meditation is hard work because so much is going on inside.
Our minds are frustratingly challenging to keep focused and some days it’s just about impossible. Meditation can also bring subconscious issues to the conscious, which can be uncomfortable. But, it is so worthwhile to slow your pace – even just for a few minutes – with a meditation practice.
For a practice suggestion, see the steps outlined in my blog Clearing the Decks.
Enjoy and Breathe Easy.
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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