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For some time now, I have described yoga as, a physical practice that was designed to prepare the body for meditation. Yoga engages and lengthens the muscles and lubricates the joints in order to sit comfortably still in mediation. While this is the case, both of these practices exist independently of each other, meaning that knowledge of or skill in one is not required in order to practice the other, though practicing both is encouraged!
I often have students ask me about meditation. Some aren’t quite sure what meditation is, or they have a specific idea about how to meditate and it doesn’t resonate with them or doesn’t fit into their lifestyle. Well I am here to tell you that Meditation is what you make it, because there is no right or wrong in the grand scheme of things, though there may be techniques or practices that feel feel right or wrong for each individual person.
What is Mediation?
Many cultures throughout the world have a practice that can be considered meditation. In Yoga, meditation is the seventh limb of yoga, called Dhyana, which means to focus the mind on one point. In the Tibetan culture it is called Gom, which means to become familiar with. Found in the Old Testament, Haga, and Siha are both Hebrew words that translate to something similar to meditation. In addition, some of the Catholic faith, regard praying the rosary as a form of mediation, as I said, it is what you make it!
With any form of mediation practice, we are able to break through mental barriers allowing for our attention to fix on a particular image, object, activity, sound, phrase or idea. Meditating lets us slow down and allows the rest of the world to fall away, if only for a few minutes. Any practice where the mind is focused and you are physically comfortable, psychologically at ease and/or spiritually nourished is a type meditation, whether or not you have considered it as such.
- Improved concentration – More productive and able to focus on the task at hand.
- Increased self-awareness – Clarity of thoughts and desires, understand the inner self.
- Health benefits – Reducing stress and anxiety keeps the body strong and allows for healing.
- Allows for Detachment – Learning to let go and reducing attachment the physical world.
- Teaches Mindfulness– Living in the present moment, considering and observing.
- A Route to Conscious Living – Discover the interconnectivity among the world.
- A Source of Inspiration – Tune into great ideas and discover creative solutions to problems.
- Sleep Better – Calms the mind, letting you easily fall asleep and improving the quality of sleep.
After beginning a meditation practice, some people find that they continue to meditate for different reasons then those that brought them to the practice. Next week we will begin to introduce different mediation techniques that can be used both with your yoga practice or on their own.
If you have any thoughts or experiences that you would like to share, please leave a comment below!
Thanks for visiting,
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+