Dhyana (Meditation)

Meditation and yoga nidra were the subjects taught on the last day of my 200hr YTT course. I’ve never came across of meditation or attended any classes before. It is a mystery to me. Meditation can be so esoteric, it’s about the mind and our experiences in the mind, which is difficult to articulate. Until that day, for the first time I experienced an 1 hour and 15 mins long of meditation. Then I realised how powerful it is meditation benefits to us! I can unable to describe the feelings I had with words. Although there’re so many times my mind wandering to somewhere else but I managed to bring it back to Self. What I only can say is the experience and feeling is so amazing and wonderful that I think I would like to try it again by myself when I’m at home. With the curiosity to meditation, it makes me decided to do a research and a write-up about Dhyana (Meditation).

Dhyana means absorption. It is the art of self-study, reflection, keen observation, or the search for the Infinite within. It is the observation of the physical processes of the body, study of mental states and profound contemplation. It means looking inwards to one’s innermost being. Dhyana is the discovery of the Self.

In meditation there is no seeking or searching, as the soul and goal have become one. Chanting of mantras is sometimes given to the beginner to steady his wandering mind and to keep him away from worldly desires. At first the mantra has to be recited aloud, then it is said mentally; lastly comes silence.

The best time to meditate is when one is fresh in body and mind, or at the time of going to bed when one feels peaceful.

The key to the technique of meditation lies in keeping the brain as a passive observer. The art of sitting correctly and silently is essential to achieve physical and mental harmony while practising meditation. Below are some techniques for meditation:

Keep the spine erect and the chest lifted up. This slows down the flow of breath, lessens the activity of the brain and leads to the cessation of all thoughts.

Keep the body alert. Keep the brain passive, sensitive and silent, like the thin end of a leaf, which shakes even in a gentle breeze.

Keep the crown of the head parallel to the ceiling without tilting the head to the right or the left, forwards or backwards, up or down. If the head is down, the sadhaka is brooding on the past, the mind is dull and tamasic. If it moves up, he is wandering in the furure, which is rajasic. When the head is held level, he is in the present, and this is a pure (sattvic) state of mind.

Close the eyes and look within. Shut your ears to outward sounds.Listen to the inner vibrations and follow them until they merge in their source. Any absent-mindedness or lack of awareness in the eyes and ears creates fluctuations in the mind. 

Only people who are easily dejected or distressed and who have dull or weak minds are advised to direct the gaze at the centre between the eye­ brows with closed eyes for short periods of time. This should be done four or five times during meditation, with an interval between each attempt. This practice brings about mental stability and intellectual sharpness. However, people with hyper-tension should not follow this procedure.

Stay in meditation for as long as you can, without allowing the body to collapse. Then do savasana. Stop meditation the moment the body starts swaying forwards, back­wards or sideways or if faintness is felt. Do not persist when this happens, as it means that the time for meditation is over for the day. If you persist, it may lead to mental imbalance.

The end of meditation is to make the mind submerge in the Self so that all seeking and searching comes to an end. Then the sadhaka experiences his own universality, timelessness and fullness.

The moment you become silent, aware and your inner sky is full of delight, you know the first taste of true life. That has to be the work for every seeker, to create more and more awareness, then freedom comes of its own accord.

“In the same way that rain breaks into a house with a bad roof, desire breaks into the mind that has not been practicing meditation.” Buddha

References:

B.K.S. Iyengar (2013). Light on Pranayama. London: Harper Element (Original work published 1981).

Creating a Yoga Space at Home

Just right before the YTT course going to end, I suddenly came out an idea of creating a own yoga space at home. I’m lucky that I still have a spare room in my house which was used to act like our store room with a lot of boxes keeping things inside. With this idea popped up in my mind, I started to do research about the tips creating a home yoga space and also seek advices from my master trainer, Sree. And of course beforehand I had a spring cleaning by removing all those unwanted things and now all are shipshape and Bristol fashion, which is now ready for a whole new purpose!

I truly feel that nothing can take your yoga as deep as practicing at home. I compared myself when I was doing yoga in the studio than practicing alone at home, the feeling is so much different. At home, you have the control of the pace. You can determine whether you want to do it slower and deeper or do it faster with the flow. More importantly, when there’s a time you can’t make it to the studio, and you need to do yoga to dissolve your stress from a long day at the office, this is when the studio comes to you in the form of your own yoga space.

It doesn’t take much work to transform an area of your home into the perfect yoga zone. Here’s I’m going to share few tips of creating a home yoga space.

Accept a small space

Some thought they can’t practice yoga at home because there’s no room in their house. You may not have an entire extra room to devote to your yoga practice, but all you really need is enough space for a mat.

Choose a quiet part of your home such as the corner of your bedroom or anywhere that lights your inner fire and inspires you to step on the mat.

Keep in mind that your feet need a steady surface. A flat surface is a key for balancing postures and to root down into the Earth. Besides that you will probably need a wall for inversions. The length and width of your yoga mat is the perfect area too. The space doesn’t need to be grand, as long as it serves your needs.

It’s okay if your home yoga space is a multipurpose space. When you are practicing think of this space as your temple, and at all other times it can be your coffee table’s home, or where your couch lives, or your front porch. There’s always room for yoga, even in the tiniest of spaces.

Bless the space with scent

The right aroma can clear negative emotions and energies from yourself and others, and fill it with more positive vibes.

Imagine walking into your home yoga space, the scent burning in the corner. As you take your place at the top of your mat, with the first inhalation, the soothing aromas fill your lungs and start to work their magic as you begin to practice.

Scent in your place should be having the qualities to enhance your mood. You need the space to be clean but not smell like chemicals. A diffuser with a blend of essential oils may be more subtle for the space and easier to switch up. If you use candles, match the scent to the mood or theme of your space. Pine, for example, helps you imagine that you are practicing yoga in the forest; while adding lavender to enhance relaxation in your yoga practice.

Have all your yoga tools accessible

Keep your yoga tools nearby to eliminate distractions. This also helps you avoid clutter as you personalise your practice space.

For main usage like yoga mat, yoga towels, a set of blocks, strap, or for meditation purpose like singing bowl, cushions, can all be stored neatly at a basket that lives in your home yoga space. If you’re using music or videos to accompany your practice or a diffuser with essential oils for relaxation, you may need a base cabinets to place candles, diffusers and music players or some would prefer a full wall of cabinetry for a clean sophisticated aesthetic. So, plan your storage accordingly. 

Make the space beautiful

Fill the space with beauty. If you find your space beautiful, you’ll be more likely to use it.

Add plants to the room to achieve mindfulness, circulate oxygen and cleanse toxins from the air, while assisting you with connecting to the Earth.

Fill it with objects that give you peace and tranquility. Pictures of deities that resonate with you, twigs that remind you of your favourite camping spot. Or a gorgeous tapestry, stones and seashells that remind you to ground.

Be careful not to use too many bold colors. Stay with calming blue and earth tones with wall paint and decorations. Too many patterns distract the eyes and the mind. Only include items that are functional or beautiful. Remove anything that doesn’t serve in purpose and design your space to suit your specific needs.

Keeping your space simple will lead to less clutter. You don’t want to think of your yoga space as a chore.

Set the mood with lighting

Don’t underestimate lighting! It’s incredibly important and has a huge impact on your mood and well-being!

Lighting should be calming and soft. A room with natural light energies the body and mind. Sheer curtains in a serene blue or green may be added to reduce strong light and enhance the atmosphere of the room. You’ll want to be able to control the flow and gradation of light to match your mood.

Soft wall sconces that direct light upwards installed with a dimmer is the most recommended for yoga practice. Recessed lights and any downward directed lighting may be a disturbance to the eye in reclined poses. You can also install crown moulding with soft indirect lighting during meditative or restorative sessions.

Creating your own intimate yoga space will amp up your practice and zen mindset a hundredfold! Remember that this space is all yours. When you take time to create a dedicated yoga space, your practice is enhanced and your yoga experience becomes more fulfilling.

Calm is only a few breaths and steps away.

What is YOGA?

What is yoga?

This was the first question asked when the YTT course started.

YOGA CITTA VRITTI NIRODHAH

Yoga is the union of our physical, mental and spiritual, the union of individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness and removing of thoughts from our mind to achieve an undisturbed state of silence which dwells in the very seat of consciousness. Thought is a picture frame, it comes from our five senses: Sight, Hear, Smell, Taste and Touch. If we try to control, it will go multiples and becomes complicated. In order to remove thought, we need to focus on one point, either external or internal until the focused subject fading away slowly. Our master trainer, Sree also mentioned that the philosophy is theoretical while Yoga is practical. Knowledge without action is called philosophy; action without knowledge is called experience. Knowledge (philosophy) and action (yoga) combined give a dynamic exposition of the system of thought and life, and it becomes wisdom.

I have never crossed over this deep in yoga until the very first day of the course. I’m totally amazed and at a loss for words. For so many years, I had misunderstand about yoga that it’s just involved in physical poses whereby physical practice is infinitely small within the scheme of yoga, like a grain of sand in the vast desert that never ended.

“Yoga is not just repetition of few postures. It is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life.” – Amit Ray

Yoga has also been described as wisdom in work or skilful living amongst activities, harmony and moderation. Steady control of the senses and mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is free from delusion. But the problem is controlling the mind is never easy. The mind is restless and inconsistent. It is so stubborn and strong, as difficult to harness as the wind. It only can be trained by constant practice (abhyasa) and by freedom from desire (vairagya). With self-discipline, we can attain it if we try hard and direct our energy by the right means. Patanjali enumerates these means as the eight limbs of yoga.

They are:

(1) Yama; (2) Niyama; (3) Asana; (4) Pranayama; (5) Pratyahara; (6) Dharana; (7) Dhyana and (8) Samadhi

Yama and Niyama control the yogi’s passions and emotions. Asanas keep the body healthy and strong. These help the yogi becomes free of body consciousness and thus renders it a fit vehicle for the soul. Thus the first three stages are known as the outward quests (bahiranga sadhana).

Pranayama and Pratyahara teach the aspirant to regulate the breathing, and thereby control the mind. These help the yogi free the senses from thraldom of the objects of desire. These two stages are the inner quests (antaranga sadhana).

Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi take the yogi into the innermost recesses of his soul. These keep the yogi in harmony with himself and his Maker. So that he knows that HE is within. These three stages are the quest of the soul (antaratma sadhana).

When a yogi passes into the state of Samadhi, he has gone beyond consciousness. He is in a state that has departed from the material world and is merged in the Eternal where there is no duality. There is only the experience of consciousness , truth and utterable happiness. He is able to distinguish the real from the unreal and the eternal from the transient by his wisdom. There’s the true YOGA!


My Journey to Yoga

It was 4 years back when I had my ever first experience in yoga practice. At that time my idea towards yoga is just one exercise that could help me get in a better body shape and at the same time relief my stress from my work and studies. Apart from a full time job in the daytime, I had to go for part-time night course to further my studies. Thus there’re overwhelming level of stresses which had caused an negative impact on my physical and mental wellbeing.

Knowing the symptoms caused by stress , I started to find some activities that can ease the stress and calm myself down by clearing my thoughts and mind after a long busy day. So here’s how yoga came in my mind.

During that period of time, I didn’t think much deeply about yoga like it’s origins, philosophy and etc. I simply just enjoyed the whole physical practices and the benefits it brought to me. I attended the yoga class almost everyday after work except those days for night classes or dates with friends. It lasted me for about a year. After that I got distracted by other sport activities so I stopped going for it. But in deep inside of me, I truly enamoured in yoga. I deeply believed that one day I will come back again by all means.

Now, after four years, I’m married and have a baby girl with me. It’s an another stages of life. This is the period where I truly know what is it feel like being a mum. It’s definitely a challenging journey to me, yet rewarding at the same time especially whenever I look into her beautiful eyes on her little tiny face.

Becoming a parent for the first time is “the ultimate shift from self-centred living to selfless living” – Carolyn Wagner

It’s truly a life changing moment. It takes unbelievable amounts of patience, constantly worry for every little things, always in a heightened state of awareness and tends to be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted everyday. So here’s where I call yoga in my mind again.

Another reason is by being a stay-home-mum, I always looking for a flexible job that can earn some extra income at the same time looking after my baby. Besides that I always want to have some me time to do workout or exercise to sweat myself out for a boost of positive energy. Thus sounds like being a yoga instructor fits all my desires in one go. This fully explains why I’m here with Tirisula YTT 200 Hr course and I know I’m getting nearer and nearer to my goal now.

I strongly believe that it’s never too late to pursue our dream no matter how our life circumstances turn us in. Takes the very first step forward, even though just a small one, you will be surprised how a brand new life awaits you!