Calm Abiding Meditation
We sit comfortably, preferably in the Vajra Posture or crossed legged positions on a suitable cushioned mat. We join our hands placing the right hand on top of the left hand with the tip of the thumbs lightly touching each other. We keep our belly relaxed, our spine straight with the crown of the head extending towards the sky. The chin is slightly lowered and our eyes can be partially open or closed. Our tongue is resting against the roof of the pallet and lightly touching the back of the top teeth.
Take some time to rest your attention on the posture to see if your a correctly aligned. Then allow yourself to become aware of the body breathing as if observing it inpersonally. After a while direct your attention to the very top of your nostrils and feel the touching sensation, created by the breathing process, at the very tip of the nostrils. Allow your mind to rest there to the exclusion of anything else. If thoughts, feelings, smells sounds etc, arise in your consciousness, simply notice and return your attention to the touching sensation of the breath at the tip of the nostrils. Continue in this way for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20 mins or more, until you can do this practice for as long as you wish. Practice on a daily basis preferably in the morning before you begin your daily activities.
Why We Do Yoga
This is a very emotive title for this post. Do we ever really consider why we do what we do and are we aware of why this system of yoga was developed . Over the years I have seen many changes and developments and the direction yoga has taken. Is this how it was supposed to go…. I recently attended a showing of ‘Awake’, a documentary of the life of Paramhamsa Yogananda. He wrote a book about his life called Autobiography of a Yogi, a cult book of the 60s. What a powerful read. I remember being so inspired after reading this book that it had a profound effect on my future in yoga and my quest to find myself as a spiritual being in this world… and what a journey it has turned out to be.
I was reminded of the hours I spent in libraries and bookshops in search of the material that spoke of and recounted the lives of those exceptional ones who attained to those heights of spiritual awakening and a personal realisation of ones own divinity. Paramhamsa Yoganandya was such a person, and thorough his efforts help bring yoga to the west and oh boy look at what is happening now. He’s message was to follow the Eightfold Path of Ashtanga Yoga.
In brief the eight limbs, or steps to yoga, are as follows:
- Yama : Universal morality
- Niyama : Personal observances
- Asanas : Body postures
- Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
- Pratyahara : Control of the senses
- Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
- Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
- Samadhi : Union with the Divine
Each of these 8 steps brings us closer to an awareness of our true being. But this journey is not to be understood by intellectual study alone, but by the penetration of our understanding through the discipline and effort integral to yoga sadhana.
I ask you, is this how you practice…. do you think that your sadhana will bring you to the place of understanding of your true nature??
We have heard allot about Hot Yoga and how it can heal and transform our bodies. Of course our muscles, tendons and joints respond in a favourable way to dynamic movements when they are sufficiently warmed up. But yoga practiced with our bodies at normal temperature still has these same benefits, but we just need to be more gentle with our approach. We are all familiar with how much more relaxed we feel when we are in a warm environment, and this has a very significant influence on how we experience our practice.
But are we not forgetting another very important element here, our minds?
For many years I felt an intensity to my practice, as if I was making some form of atonement for the negativities of my lives. This is no longer the case, but now more from an attitude of reverence and devotion. Through my meditation I have learned to be more patient and joyful in my practice, and like my teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso often reminds us, ‘To practice with a peaceful and happy mind…’
I feel this to be more what Sadhana is – a method to cleanse our minds, and lead us into the purity of our own Hearts.