Dhyana is the 7th limb of Raja Yoga, just before Samadhi. It is also known commonly as Meditation.
Recently, a colleague of mine shared that she had nagging pain on her shoulders and neck. Another colleague of mine, who had just attended his yoga classes, was quick to offer yoga as the cure for her pain.
She responded with apprehension that she is not for yoga, particularly if meditation is involved. My colleague reassured her that yoga is more like a physical exercise and one need not practice meditation to reap it’s benefits!
I was about to jump into the conversation to offer an alternative viewpoint, but felt that the lady in pain nor my colleague is ready to accept what I have to say…
Meditation is an activity of the mental consciousness. It involves one part of the mind observing, analyzing and dealing with the rest of the mind. Its ultimate aim is to awaken a very subtle level of consciousness and to use it to discover reality, directly and intuitively. It enables one to attain Samadhi – a state of super consciousness.
There are many forms of meditation, but for beginners, one will find breathing (mindfulness) meditation the easiest to start with.
The seven-point posture, used by experienced meditators for centuries, is the best way to help one gain a clam, clear state of mind in our practice.
- Legs – in full or half-lotus
- Arms – hands on knees in chin mudra (relaxed)
- Back – straight and relaxed (achieve by sitting on cushion)
- Eyes – slightly open to admit a little light & gaze downwards
- Jaw – relaxed with teeth slightly apart & lips together lightly
- Tongue – touch palate just behind upper teeth (reduce flow of saliva)
- Head – bent forward slightly and gaze toward the floor in front
With the 7-point posture established, let’s move on to the techniques of breathing (mindfulness) meditation:
- Start with a prayer
- Focus on the sensation at the tip of the nostrils as the breath enter and leaves our body (breath normally & gently)
- Observe the full duration of each inhalation & exhalation
- Count in cycles of 5 or 10 complete breaths, starting again at one whenever one lose count or mind wanders
- When thoughts or feelings appear, merely notice its existence (don’t resist) and return your attention to your counting of breath
- Be persistent and patient, eventually your thoughts and feelings will eventually disappear.
- At the end of the meditation session, dedicate the positive energy created by your meditation for a cause
Regular practice of meditation will enable one to gradually gain control over one’s mind, find peace and permanent joy. The mind, like a sentry, watches out for distractions and disturbing thoughts, enabling one to deal with it skilfully.
Over time, we will find that meditation will be extended to all aspects of our life – when we are performing our asanas & kriyas, or even ‘mundane’ activities such as walking, eating, washing dishes, at work, playing with our children. It bring us to the joy of being here and now!
In short, meditation is key in our practice of yoga.