By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
In “The Journal of Yoga Science as Mind-Body Medicine,” Leonard Perlmutter compares the human brain to technology. Just as new software can make an old computer system function more efficiently, meditation can alter the state of the mind.
According to Yogic philosophy, the physical body is a projection of the unconscious mind, the place where all of the memories, experiences, and dreams are stored, as well as the addictions, fears, anger, and disappointments. The ideas and thoughts that receive the most attention create the deepest channels of communication. These pathways include creativity and healthy habits, in addition to compulsions and addictions.
As these stimuli are processed, the unconscious mind sends signals to the physical body. Depending on its interpretation, the body can then relax and function more efficiently, or it can pump cortisol and adrenaline into its system, in an effort to fight what it perceives as a threat. Although we often blame other people or circumstances for these reactions, it is our interpretation of events that creates our realities.
Training the Mind for Positive Thinking
Yoga meditation is one of the most effective ways of changing our thinking, and the style is not as important as the fact that it takes place on a regular basis. Although having a specific time of day and a particular place are helpful in creating a positive habit, they are not necessary. A simple act of mindfulness can take place on the tennis court or the carpool.
Many Meditation Methods
For people who have trouble sitting still, guided meditations, visualizations, and music with binaural beats are often good starting points. What works for one person may not work for another. Meditation classes help to provide discipline, and the sequences of poses in Yoga classes were designed to prepare the mind for a meditative state. Many people change meditation styles as they learn the art, while others integrate several different kinds of meditation into their practices.
Just as it took time and attention to integrate bad habits into our lifestyles, it also takes patience and diligence to develop new ones. By rewriting the old programs running our brains, we can silence our minds and create healthy habits of loving kindness and compassion.
Yogic Breath Awareness Meditation for Silencing the Mind
One method that most Yoga students find to be the easiest to grasp is breath awareness meditation. Breath awareness is often taught in Yoga classes; which makes one realize how wise the Swamis of the past were.
While we are living, our breath is a constant ebb and flow. We do not have to drive to the beach, or mountains, to be in touch with our breath. All you have to do is sit comfortably and breathe, without judging yourself. Just observe your breathing and relax, without trying to control inhales or exhales.
Options for Yogic Breath Awareness
Good posture is important, but sitting on the floor can be difficult, if you were born into a chair-sitting society. For this reason, consider a chair or a prop for sitting. Otherwise, you might only be able to concentrate on the pain in your back.
Closing your eyes is optional, but it does help some practitioners concentrate on their breath. The same can be said for light music. Some Yoga teachers never use music for a session, but some use it for everything. Therefore, consider music an optional tool.
Meditation will help you silence your mind. Many experienced practitioners forget to point new students toward the easiest meditation methods. The shortest path toward training and silencing the mind is the easiest.
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