Whatever great thing is known to men is known through meditation … the whole earth, middle space, the heaven, waters and even mountains are engaged in Dhyana.

Whatever great thing is known to men is known through meditation … the whole earth, middle space, the heaven, waters and even mountains are engaged in Dhyana. Chandogya Upanishad

After sitting for just a few minutes in meditation we soon realize that the mind seems to act like a monkey, jumping from here to there. Concentration is challenging and taming the “monkey mind” becomes the main task.

To anchor the mind in the moment we have to find something that is in the moment, such as our senses of hearing, smelling, sensing, seeing and touching.

For most of us the easiest anchor is the breath, particularly the awareness of it entering and leaving our body.

By simply observing the natural breath, it will slow down. With each slow breath the movements of the mind lessen. There is no way in working directly with our fluctuating thoughts, just try to say to yourself let’s stop thinking for one minute!!

Start by becoming aware of the natural flow of the breath, by becoming aware of the different sensations as the breath enters our chest and belly and then as the air leaves the nostrils.

It’s important that we don’t change our breath to fit with our awareness of it, but that we just ride the breath with our awareness letting it change as it wants to. All the while, our witness stays detached and alert.

We might start to give a count to each in-breath, starting with ‘one’ on the first inhale, ‘two’ on the second, and so on until we reach ten, then start from one again. Or we might just note the in-breath as IN and the out-breath as OUT. Another option is to simply stay with the sensations of breathing as it lifts your belly and gives a light sensation when it enters and leaves your nostrils.

This is not a pranayam (breath control) but a process of pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) and dharana (concentration) that will lead you by itself into a state of meditation.

As you become more advanced in your practice, and remember it is called “practice” for a reason, to stop a wandering mind you can use other anchors such as sound, smells or by focusing eyes-open on an object such as a candle.

The practice of meditation is an ongoing exploration and dedication to remain in the present moment.

Each time you remember to come back to the breath you are re-entering this moment, proving you used your anchor correctly.

When the one-pointedness of mind ceases to be an active effort and simply happens naturally, without effort, then we have achieved the state of meditation.

So dhyana, meditation, as far as it can be described in words, is an unbroken stream of concentration, whereby very little sense of self remains. At this level, it becomes increasingly more difficult to use words or the reasoning, conscious mind to describe the experiences of yoga. After all, by its very nature the state of meditation transcends our material human experience and everything related to it.

We could say that meditation (dhyana) is perfected concentration (dharana), or that a meditative state is the natural result of perfect concentration.

So it is prolonged concentration that leads the yogi into this spontaneous and free-flowing meditative state, where nothing but the object of concentration fills the mental space and whereby the observer and the observed merge into one.

As Above so Below

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