Focusing on a flower in a vase, or a statue, or a picture of a deity are other possibilities. Use this technique with your eyes fully opened or partially closed, creating a softer, diffused gaze. Many of the classical hatha yoga postures have gazing points, and the use of drishti is especially emphasized in the Ashtanga style of hatha yoga. Many pranayama techniques also call for specific positioning of the eyes, such as gazing at the "third eye," the point between the eyebrows or at the tip of the nose.
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Using the breath as a point of focus is yet another possibility. You can do this by actually counting the breaths as you would in pranayama practice. Ultimately, however, meditating on the breath just means purely observing the breath as it is, without changing it in any way.
In this instance, the breath becomes the sole object of your meditation. You observe every nuance of the breath and each sensation it produces: how it moves in your abdomen and torso, how it feels as it moves in and out of your nose, its quality, its temperature, and so on. Though you are fully aware of all these details, you don't dwell on them or judge them in any way; you remain detached from what you're observing.
What you discover is neither good nor bad; you simply allow yourself to be with the breath from moment to moment. Breath observance is the predominant technique used by practitioners of vipassana , commonly referred to as "insight" or "mindfulness" meditation. The word vipassana, which literally means "to see clearly" or "look deeply," is also interpreted to mean "the place where the heart dwells," and reflects the premise that thought arises out of our hearts.
See also The Science of Breathing. Another way to meditate is to watch a physical sensation. Practice this with the same degree of detail as you would when watching the breath. In this context, you will look deeply at, or penetrate, a particular sensation that draws your attention, such as how hot or cool your hands feel. The increased sensitivity you gained due to your asana practice may provide you with other points of focus: the strength of your spine or the suppleness you feel in your lower body, for example.
Observing a particular emotion or any specific area of discomfort is also a possibility. Whatever you choose remains your point of focus for the whole practice. You may find that observing a physical sensation can be more challenging than observing the breath. For most beginners, mantras, chants, and visualizations offer more tangible ways to replace or calm the scattered thoughts of our minds, which seem to be perpetually on sensory overload. Although you can meditate, or become fully absorbed in any activity or position of stillness, sitting is the most commonly recommended posture.
There are a number of classic seated poses, but Sukhasana Easy Cross-Legged Pose is obviously the most basic. More flexible meditators prefer Padmasana Lotus Pose. Sitting in a chair also works. It's no less effective and certainly no less spiritual, and it's often the best choice for beginners. The most important things are that your spine remain upright and that you feel steady and comfortable, the same two qualities necessary for performing asanas.
To maximize comfort on the floor, place a cushion or folded blanket under your buttocks to elevate them and gently guide your knees down toward the floor. This helps support the natural lumbar curve of the lower back. Some people prefer kneeling "Japanese-style.
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Relax your arms and place your hands on your thighs or in your lap, with the palms in a relaxed position facing up or down. Roll your shoulders back and down and gently lift the chest. Keep your neck long and the chin tilted slightly downward. Depending upon which technique you are following, the eyes may be opened or closed.
Breathing is natural and free. A moving meditation—highly recommended by many teachers—may be an enjoyable option for you. The challenge of this form is to walk slowly and consciously, each step becoming your focal point. Destination, distance, and pace are all incidental. Relax your arms at your sides and move freely, coordinating your breath with your steps. For instance, you might breathe in for 3 steps and breathe out for 3 steps.
If that feels awkward or difficult, just breathe freely. Although you can practice walking meditation anywhere, choose a setting you particularly love—the ocean, a favorite park, or a meadow. Remember, getting somewhere is not the issue. Rather, the complete involvement in the act of walking becomes your meditation. Standing is another meditation practice that can be very powerful. It is often recommended for those practitioners who find that it builds physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-distance apart. Knees are soft; arms rest comfortably at your sides.
Check to see that the whole body is aligned in good posture: shoulders rolled back and down, chest open, neck long, head floating on top, and chin parallel to the floor. Either keep your eyes opened or softly close them. Even though lying down is associated with relaxation, the classic Corpse Pose, Savasana , is also used for meditation.
Lie down on your back with your arms at your sides, palms facing upward. Touch your heels together and allow the feet to fall away from one another, completely relaxed.
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Although your eyes may be opened or closed, some people find it easier to stay awake with their eyes open. A supine meditation, although more physically restful than other positions, entails a greater degree of alertness to remain awake and focused. Therefore, beginners may find it more difficult to meditate in this position without falling asleep. Research has confirmed what the yogis of ancient times already knew: Profound physiological and psychological changes take place when we meditate, causing an actual shift in the brain and in the involuntary processes of the body.
This is how it works. An instrument called an electroencephalograph EEG records mental activity. During waking activity, when the mind constantly moves from one thought to another, the EEG registers jerky and rapid lines categorized as beta waves. When the mind calms down through meditation, the EEG shows waves that are smoother and slower, and categorizes them as alpha waves. As meditation deepens, brain activity decreases further. The EEG then registers an even smoother, slower pattern of activity we call theta waves.
Studies on meditators have shown decreased perspiration and a slower rate of respiration accompanied by a decrease of metabolic wastes in the bloodstream. Lower blood pressure and an enhanced immune system are further benefits noted by research studies. The health benefits meditation produces naturally reflect the mental and physical effects of this process. At the very least, meditation teaches you how to manage stress; reducing stress in turn enhances your overall physical health and emotional well-being. On a deeper level, it can add to the quality of your life by teaching you to be fully alert, aware, and alive.
In short, it is a celebration of your self. You are not meditating to get anything, but rather to look at and let go of anything you do not need. See also 7 Holistic Brain Benefits of Meditation. We highly recommend a period of daily meditation. Add it to the end of your asana practice, or set aside another block of time.
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The important thing is that you find a time that works best for you. Don't do too much too soon; you're apt to get discouraged and stop altogether. To establish consistency, meditate at the same time and in the same place every day. Choose a place that is quiet, one that is pleasant, where you'll be undisturbed.
Traditionally, the morning is considered the optimal time because you are less likely to be distracted by the demands of your day. Many people find that a morning meditation helps them enter the day with a greater degree of equanimity and poise. However, if a morning practice is a struggle, try an afternoon or early evening meditation. When meditating independently of your yoga practice, a to minute time frame seems manageable for most beginners. Choose a position that works for you.
If you prefer sitting, either on a chair or on the floor, keep the spine erect and the body relaxed. Your hands should rest comfortably on your lap or thighs, with the palms up or down. If you choose to walk or stand, maintaining good posture is also critical, with your arms hanging freely by your sides. When lying down, place yourself in a symmetrical and comfortable position with the appropriate support under your head and knees if needed.
Decide on your point of focus. If sound appeals to you, create your own mantra, silently or audibly repeating a word or phrase that is calming to you, such as "peace," "love," or "joy. Affirmations also work. Using a tape of chants or listening to a relaxing piece of music are also options.
If you choose imagery, visualize your favorite spot in nature with your eyes closed, or gaze upon an object placed in front of you: a lighted candle, a flower, or a picture of your favorite deity. One way to observe the breath is to count it: Breathe in for three to seven counts and breathe out for the same length of time. Then shift to simply observing the breath, noticing its own natural rhythm and its movement in your torso. Whichever posture and method you choose, stick with them for the duration of your meditation period.
Indeed, once you find what works for you, you'll want to maintain that practice indefinitely. Do not be surprised or discouraged by how frequently your thoughts wander. When you realize that your mind has become distracted, simply return to your chosen point of focus. See also Find Your Meditation Style. At the beginning you might feel uncomfortable meditating—sitting for 20 minutes may cause your legs to fall asleep or cramp up, walking slowly may bring up feelings of impatience or agitation, and reclining poses may merely make you fall asleep.
Conversely, you may have some profound experiences the first few times you sit, only to spend the next few frustrating days trying to duplicate them. Meditation shouldn't cause you to feel unreasonably stressed or physically uncomfortable. If it does, reduce the length of your practice time or change your position from walking to sitting; from sitting to standing. If that doesn't work, go back to incorporating a few minutes of meditation into your asana practice instead of holding onto a formal practice.
After a few days, try returning to your normal meditation routine. If you continue having trouble with your meditation practice, you may need to seek the guidance of an experienced teacher or the support of a group that meets regularly to meditate together. Indications of your progress, with or without a teacher or group, are feelings of mental calm and physical comfort, and the ability to be present in all your experiences. Poses by Anatomy. Poses by Level. The Yoga for You. Learn about the proper storage methods to make your soap last. For many beginning soap makers, the idea of working with lye sodium hydroxide can be intimidating.
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