Today, we live in a fast-paced world – constantly moving from place to place, multi-tasking all the time, being constantly being plugged in to your devices, and just moving through life without stopping and noticing things around you, or taking time to appreciate life, people around you, or even yourself.
I am definitely guilty of this. Definitely.
One of the reasons I picked up yoga a few years back was so that I wanted to learn how to slow down.
And, yoga is not just about asanas.
Yoga is a practice for the mind and body. In class, we had learnt that the 7th limb of yoga is Dhyana. Through constant practice of meditation/Dhyana one will be able to achieve balance between the mind and body.
Dhyana/Meditation is practiced by many cultures everywhere. As we live in a fast-paced, stress-filled environment, there is growing interest in Meditation and Mindfulness.
Through meditation, you can create calmness in the mind, obtain peace within yourself, and gain a better understanding of yourself. There are many benefits from practicing meditation daily: increased focus, improved sleep quality, reduced anxiety, lowers blood pressure, boosts immune system etc.
Meditation can be done by anyone, anywhere. It requires patience, and practice. Constant practice and discipline will help train your wandering mind come back to you.
Start with just 10 minutes, sitting in a comfortable position (you can sit in any position you like, as long as you are able to hold it for a period of time).
To get to Dhyana, first you got to get to both Pratyahara/Withdrawing your senses and bringing your awareness within, and Dharana/Concentration.
You may focus on one thing; an object, your breath, your movements, a person, your chakra..
Observe your breath, and your thoughts as they come.
When about the end of your meditation practice, check in with yourself: How are you feeling?
Do it daily, and reap the benefits of meditation.
While researching, I found various types of meditation techniques that I found really interesting, and experimented with these!
Focused Meditation – Concentrating using any of the 5 senses.
We experimented with this during Master Sree’s class. I found it really amazing.
Master Sree lit a candle, dimmed the room, and placed it in the middle of the room (at our eye level) with us sitting in a circle around it. We took a few deep breaths, relaxed our bodies, and gazed at the flame, focusing on it. We watched the shape of the flame as it dances, and the colour as it changes. And for a moment, I felt immersed in the flame, and everything around me went into a blur.
Gong Meditation / Singing Bowls
Both the gong and singing bowls have healing properties and are thereupeutic in nature. It is an immersive experience, that helps you to relax and declutter your mind. It’s good for those who does not like to sit in silence. I prefer to sit in silence, but would love to try it some day.
Movement Meditation – This is an active form of meditation where movement guides you.
Yoga is a moving meditation technique. Another one that I have recently discovered is walking meditation. One day while commuting, I decided to try it. It felt really amazing to be present and not be distracted by your phone. What I did was: Walk in a pace that is comfortable for me, do a body scan to notice how my body feels, tune in to what is going on around and acknowledge what I see and hear around me. Note the sounds, the smells, physical sensations, movement of the body. Use the movement rhythm as a base awareness. I matched the breath with my steps e.g. 3 steps inhale, 6 steps exhale. I realised this was what I have always been doing when I used to do a lot of running and competitive swimming in my younger days, or when I was diving (yes diving can be quite intimidating especially if you are nerve-y like me, so doing such techniques help me to calm down). You don’t even have to take out special time to do this, and can just do it when you are travelling from place to place!
Mantra meditation – Using repetitive sound (word, phrase, sound)
Through repeating a mantra out loud or in your head, e.g. Om, affirming phrases for yourself, and matching your breath with the mantra, can help meditation become easier and feel more relaxed. I have tried this technique by repeatedly saying a mantra in my head that corresponds to the chakra that I was focusing on during my meditation. e.g saying “I am empowered” and focusing on your Solar Plexus chakra, can increase your confidence and self-esteem.
Calligraphy meditation – Using Calligraphy
I first experienced this in a temple on Koya san, Japan. Sitting on the floor, cross-legged at a short desk, and using a brush to trace scriptures quietly, focusing on the strokes and the letters. This technique uses the power of words, and perfecting the art of writing, to calm your mind. You may also trace or write words repeatedly on a piece of paper for 10 to 20 minutes e.g. the symbol “Om”. It can be in any shape or form that you like. Or a verse, a word or a phrase. I truly enjoy this form of meditation, and hope you can try it too!
Hope that these variations of meditation can help you explore your mind further, drop me a comment if you have tried and how you felt during your practice, and most importantly,
remember to slow down 🙂