Meditation is the most effective means of cultivating the inner causes of happiness and eradicating the inner causes of suffering and delusion be them severe physical and emotional pain to the subtlest sense of unease. It has been proven that meditation reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, which in turn decreases the frequency and severity of illness. It gives us the ability and the strength to let go of mental toxins or mental toxic states thus reducing psychosomatic illnesses. It gives us the tools to be able to deal better with states of depression, fear and anxiety. It accelerates our healing process, so there is absolutely no reason not to meditate. Many people leave my class after the asanas and are not so inclined to stay for the meditation session, which I offer for free, a class of over 20 can drop down to 5 or 6 for the meditation. And in reality this is the part that everyone should be jumping to stay for, it is actually the spine of our practice. Of course we need our yogic postures to keep the body and internal organs healthy but this is essentially so we can sit for our meditation, which will lead us to a state of a free uncluttered mind in which we can be present in the moment and find freedom and ultimate peace. The great sage Patanjali who put yoga in its first written form in the shape of verses or sutras, gave us eight steps on the path of Raja Yoga; the holistic approach. The first two steps were our observances and restraints named the Yamas and Niyamas, our dos and don’ts in our life; these are regarding our life style. The third step was asana – yogic postures, the fourth pranayama – yogic breathing. Then the next four steps were regarding meditation 5. Pratyahara-withdrawing the senses, 6. Dharana- concentration, 7. Dhyana-meditation and 8. Samadhi- the state of absolute bliss. So you can see that meditation and the steps that lead to it form 50% of the practice described by Patanjali, lifestyle is 25%, then asanas and breath work form 12.5% each. But so much emphasis is placed on the body in many of our yoga schools and centres around the world. Shouldn’t we be focusing more on the health of our mind, a healthy mind will in turn bring a healthy body. I have a prime example of this in my own body as I suffer slightly with arthritis in my right knee. When it gets painful it is definitely when my mind is troubled and then when I perform certain cleansing techniques for the body and use meditation it gets better again. I have observed this and it is very interesting to see that a cleansing technique for the stomach, which is where a lot of wrong thinking and emotional stress can build up, releases the pain in my knee! So why not start at the source, which is the mind and how we can deal with it is in our meditations, if we have clarity of mind then we have a healthy body. I think what puts a lot of people off is they believe that they can’t meditate, I hear so often ‘oh my mind is everywhere,’ or ‘I just can’t sit still.’ Etc etc etc, so many different reasons they find, but if only we can understand that everybody’s mind jumps everywhere and yes we all find sitting still difficult, but we must practice, the slightest bit of practice brings so many benefits and we can start on the road to finding our inner peace where any situation can happen around us and we can remain peaceful and content. I think one of the problems is that we all tend to put too much pressure on ourselves in this modern world, ideas of perfection trouble us, if only we could realise that we are already perfect, there is no need to do anything and all that inner quiet and peace that we speak of is already within but we just need to give it a chance to come out. So my advice would be if you have the chance to meditate then don’t shy away from it, don’t indeed be afraid of it, but sit in the love and light of your own self. One of the biggest obstacles of meditation is not starting at all or starting and having expectations that when aren’t met we give up. Start with just 5 minutes, if sitting in cross legged pose for you is torture then sit on a chair, as long as the spine is straight and not resting on anything. Then bring your awareness for a few moments around your body, start at the toes and work up and feel yourself gradually relax the muscles. Then simply bring your awareness to your breath without changing anything, just watch it, watch every inhalation and exhalation you can feel the warmth on the upper lip with every exhalation. Do it for every day for just 5 minutes, do it with no expectation, then over time you will gradually build up but you will definitely notice a difference within yourself after some time. You will get to a point when you really don’t want to open your eyes again you are so happy just being there. Let us address the monsters within of fear and stress and let them go, let the pain from your body disappear as the pain disappears from the mind. There is no argument that it is easy it is surely difficult but so worth every moment, and as the saying goes if you have time to breathe then you have time to meditate. This practice can help you so much, so why are you not doing it? I really encourage you to put in the effort and watch the changes over time within you. Freedom is your birthright so why not meditate and realise it.
‘An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory” Swami Sivananda
So turn off your computer now and give the next five minutes to meditation!
Keep shinning like your beautiful souls and remember that growth comes gradually, sincerity, regularity and patience ensure eventual success.
Mangala / Nicky