By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
During Yoga sessions, meditation is usually practiced near the end of class. Some Yoga teachers are very strict about the exact procedure, while others take a more casual approach. In “The Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook,” Ram Dass – American psychologist and spiritual teacher – discusses the many kinds of meditation, how the process works, and what its benefits are.
Although the book was originally published over 30 years ago, its message is as refreshing and timeless now as it was then. A reminder to stop worrying about using the “right” technique or overzealous expectations, the guide encourages the reader to find his or her own path through experimentation and practice. Below are five classic tips.
Five Tips for Better Meditation
• Getting started
Especially in the beginning, meditation experiences vary from boring and uncomfortable to calm and exhilarating. The state of the physical body and its posture contribute to the quality of meditation. If it is hard to maintain an erect spine, or if there is physical discomfort, body work, such as Yoga asana practice, may help to prepare for sitting. Be aware of how sleep, diet, and thoughts affect the body and mind. If necessary, make gradual changes in lifestyle. Establish a routine, preferably practicing meditation at the same time and in the same place every day. Changes in routine are not required, but they yield optimum results.
• Finding your own path
When learning to meditate, choose a style that feels comfortable and make adjustments as changes occur. There are many methods, including prayer, mantras, visualization, singing, ecstatic dance, walking, qigong, and Yoga, as well as contemplative and transcendental techniques. Yoga asana practice, Tai Chi, and Qigong may be used to prepare for sitting meditation. Ordinary actions, like eating, walking, or working, can become meditative practices when done with mindfulness.
• Staying on track
Meditation brings clarity and simplicity to daily life; like life, it flows in cycles – continuously evolving. As the meditative practice grows, choices of lifestyle and company change to meet new ways of looking at the world. Some people find encouragement in groups ranging from spiritual to secular. The choice of a teacher becomes more important with advanced practice and should be determined by personal feelings and needs. Retreats, or solitude, are important for practitioners who focus on spiritual development.
• Getting stuck
As meditative practice progresses, experiences of bliss or awareness may be seductive, leading to feelings of spiritual beauty, a desire for power, or a continued state of bliss. As old habits die, changes to the personality and lifestyle can be scary. Aspects of the personality that have been hidden may be visible for the first time. These stages, when simply observed, usually pass.
• Getting free
What feels right at one moment may not be right for the next. There will inevitably be plateaus when faith and persistence are necessary, and humor always lightens the load. In the end, every person must find his or her own truth and balance in the world.
“There is a universal tradition to people who complete the path of meditation, who transcend their intellects, open their hearts, and come into tune with that from which the universe flows. Such beings are sages, enlightened, realized, free, children of God.” Ram Dass
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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