Meditation – searching peace within
29 November 2013,07:28:59 BST
When I got more interested in Yoga and had a deeper look into the philosophy I came across Patanjali's eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. That was the first time I was taught that Yoga doesn't only include the physical asanas (exercises) but has eight different levels or limbs as they are called in the yogic world.
The last stage is Samadhi – pure bliss or enlightenment as we so often hear it. Enlightnement as Buddha himself has reached and so many other yogis, sadhus and spiritual seekers.
In order to reach the state of blissful awareness one has to immerge into meditation, into a journey deep within to one's true self. Some yogis say that only through meditation one can find true happiness and only through the connection with your soul or your real self can one find peace. By sitting still, observing the breath and accepting every thought that comes into the mind but also letting go of that same thought with not attaching to it. By mastering meditation we open up to reach even further. Some attain bliss during meditation, sometimes it lasts for that moment, or it can last longer and for a few this state of superconciousness stays.
So in meditation there are many different styles and teaching practices and there is not one that is better or superior and helping you to reach samadhi faster. It all depends on each individual, their habits, their lifestyle and their yoga practice as a whole. As a beginner it is always easier and maybe also more comfortable to start meditating in a small group with a teacher guiding you through it. And then step by step one can start meditating at home, start with 10 minutes a day, ideally in the mornings and/or evenings before going to bed. And then gradually extend to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes up to as long as it feels good for you. Ideally 30 minutes of daily meditation is recommended and will help you to start your day in a different light.
Go within and you will find all the answers to your questions that trouble you. Take enough time to sit in meditation and allow your mind to settle and become still while listening into your deep self. Often when I meditate, even for a short period, I receive so much insight and solutions to situations that are present and are bothering me. It actually also happened that a few times I had to stop meditating to write down all the solutions and answers I was receiving because I was too worried that if I carried on meditating I would forget all of it. To receive such answers it is very important to be open to it and to accept them and not to think that it is just a thought but to see it as the sign from within or from the universe – whatever you believe in. These feelings, thoughts they come up from deep within while we are meditating and while we open up and become vulnerable and receivable. Therefore it would be wrong to think “oh this is just a thought, I don't put too much importance on it”. By ignoring such thoughts we limit ourselves and will not be able to enjoy the bliss, the help from the universe and therefore won't be able to take responsibility for our actions in regards to a certain situation or problem.
Another thing I learned is that we all carry samskaras with us. Samskaras are imprints which were created by experiences from our past lives. They can be positive or negative. We carry them with our soul and they guide us through certain situations. To free them and to find peace and deep relaxation is the aim of every being, we have to transform and go beyond the illusionary world which is “Maya”. Through my teacher Yogi Ashokananda I found a beautiful active meditation to do exactly this, to free the soul from previous Samskaras and become open, pure and connected with my soul.
The technique is called “Science of Relaxation” and takes about 60 to 120 minutes of physically active exercises in a meditative state where you will flow into different sitting, kneeling and lying positions and move either your arms, hands, legs or your whole body according to the instructions given to you. My first experience with this meditation technique is three years back when I was pretty new to meditation in general. I had no idea what was coming and what to expect from it and while going through the different stages of the meditation I was suffering greatly. My body was in pain and my mind was telling that I couldn't go any further. Still I kept on doing what I was asked to do, shed a few tears over the pain until those tears became more and I found myself sobbing while still being in active movement. And then suddenly it was all over and we were asked to lay down in Savasana. That was the moment when it happened. My first ever “out of body” experience. My body was lying there on the floor, peaceful and still but I was standing next to my body observing myself. First I was scared and about to freak out but then a voice softly spoke to me and calmed me down “...everything is all right; you are in peace; enjoy...”. And as sudden as we got into Savasana as fast time passed and my soul was asked to come back into this body and slowly move and come up sitting in Padmasana. I remember that the whole rest of that evening I was in pure bliss, beautiful silence surrounded me and a light was lit in my heart.
I did this meditation practice a few more times and can surely recommend it to everybody who would like to experience something different and something special as every time I am doing it I go much deeper than in any other meditation practice. But of course, this is my individual experience and varies from soul to soul. So I recommend, keeping on trying different styles and feeling which is right for you in which situation. For me it is also an important fact that on some days or when I have a certain feeling or situation, I prefer a different meditation technique. The same way as I vary my daily yoga asana practice.
A few more of my favourite meditation practices I do regularly:
- Heart meditation based on the Kundalini practice (sitting in easy pose, keeping the hands in lotus mudra)
- Guided chakra meditation by Deepak Chopra
- Trataka meditation (fixed gazing into the flame of a candle)
- Meditation on a word (recently I meditated on love and embraced every thought I had on love)
There are many meditation videos on YouTube and possibly classes in your local yoga studio or meditation centre.
Now it's up to you to give meditation a chance. You won't feel the full benefits straight away but it surely is more than just sitting still and doing nothing.
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