This morning kicked off a four-week meditation course I’m teaching at Journey Yoga in Arlington, VA. It was exciting to see 14 yogis I’ve never met before truly interested in learning how to meditate. It was also fun to share with them that yoga is so much more than the asanas -the yoga poses. The physical postures of yoga are just a sliver (seriously, like 1%) of what makes up the practices of yoga, yet they are what we most think of when we hear the term “yoga”.
Yoga, as defined by Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2, is all about learning how to quiet the mind. And just as there are various styles of yoga asana (Ashtanga, Iyengar, Dharma Yoga, Hot Yoga, Gentle, Restorative, etc.) there are equally many types of meditation techniques to assist in the process of turning one’s attention inward. Interestingly, The Yoga Sutras written thousands of years ago offer a lot of concentration/meditation tips:
- Sutra 1.29: Japa OM –chanting OM mentally, verbally, visually.
- Sutra 1.33: Adjusting your attitude in daily life. Be happy for those that are happy/lucky. Be compassionate for those who are sad/suffering. Honor/joy for the virtuous. Indifference/non-judgment for the non-virtuous.
- Sutra 1.34: Focusing on breath.
- Sutra 1.36: Focus on the internal light.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing techniques that originate from these sutras/ancient teachings. By putting into practice the above sutras, the yogi starts to develop a clear, peaceful mind.
If you’re seeking meditation practices beyond The Yoga Sutras or just interested in learning more about meditation and mindfulness, check out the following resources. These are some of the experts in the field.
Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation/A 28-Day Program
John Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are -or any of his other books like Full Catastrophe Living
Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now (personally, I love A New Earth but the former was the “popular” one)
Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice Meditation (he has so many great ones to choose from – Peace Is Every Step is another nice one)
For those analytical minds who still need a little science behind the benefits of meditation, consider Rick Hanson’s Buddha Brain and Hardwiring Happiness. With a Ph.D in neuropsychologist, I’m sure he can answer your concrete questions about the benefits of meditation.
Meditation is an experience. Quieting the mind is an experience. You can read a lot of books about how to do it. You can read all you want about the benefits of doing it. You can listen to podcasts (and there are a lot of great ones; maybe my next blog post!). The key is sitting down and doing it. Again, meditation is an experience. You need to practice, practice, practice. Find what works for you through practicing. Have patience and keep practicing. Eventually, you’ll experience it. Happy sitting!
Melody of abellaYoga has been gratefully teaching yoga full-time in Washington, DC, Alexandria and Arlington, VA since 2006. Thankful for experiences gained in the telecom/tech corporate world, this ex-marketing, yoga-chick is happy to share all she knows about yoga with all. Find her here, facebook.com/abellaYoga page or on twitter.com/abellaYoga -follow @abellaYoga