How can I benefit from a meditative practice?
The Sivananda tradition defines five principles that underline an appropriate Sadhana or Yoga practice.
These five principles are:
- Appropriate physical exercise
- Appropriate breathing
- Appropriate relaxation
- Proper diet
- Positive thinking and meditation
In this article, we'll be exploring the 5th principle.
What is meditation?
Meditation is often seen as a way of looking at 'things', absorbing them and then bringing them to full consciousness. However, if this means getting entangled in endless rumination, then there is no change and no improvement in the way we feel about ourselves. So, as we practise meditation, we need to develop Viveka discrimination, leading to clarity and Vairagya or non-attachment.
What is non-attachment?
Non-attachment is what enables us to place ourselves at a distance from our emotions and look at them without being overpowered by them. It allows us to stand back from a situation. From this position, we are able to develop discrimination to enable us to see, acknowledge and accept things as they are. Only when we do this can we know exactly where we are and then move on.
T.V.K Desikachar says in The Heart of Yoga:
“The ultimate goal of yoga is to always observe things accurately.”
So, meditation is a therapeutic process through which we develop our power of observation and perception, bringing together scattered and disparate aspects of ourselves - the inner and outer aspects of our reality - in order to understand ourselves better.
Inner peace and stillness are what people tend to expect from meditation but it is a very elusive state, not easily attained. The activities of our mind get in the way.
However, trying to “empty the mind” is a counterproductive action. It is in fact impossible unless somebody knocks us on the head! The idea is to observe thoughts and emotions in order to make sense of what is happening. In time, we will reach a state of inner peace and stillness.
The aim is not to push the clutter away or to pretend it is not there, but to bring it into the light to be able to understand it. Meditation enables us to look at all of this clutter in a dispassionate way. It is a cleansing process.
When thoughts and emotions arise, we allow them to come to the surface, observe them and acknowledge them, but we do not want to get involved with them or analyse them. Simply sitting creates the ‘distance’. Our mind cannot be emptied, so let’s look at what is in there, and let’s “observe it accurately”.
A meditative practice means that you put all of your focus and attention into the journey that is a yoga session. Watching each step allows us to achieve the postures or sequences, relaxing in them as we breathe.
Ultimately, applying the five principles of yoga is a tool, which helps us to bring harmony and balance to our daily life.
If you are interested in exploring meditation further, I have sessions online this Thursday (1st July) at 7am and on Tuesday 6th and Tuesday 13th July at 7am (for 45 minutes).
Feel free to contact me for more information.