Meditation or Dhyana is the seventh of the eight-limbed yoga path of Patanjali. It aims to refine the concentration of the mind to a higher level.
Meditation happens spontaneously from concentration as the mind focus deepens. You reach ultimate meditation when you can no longer differentiate yourself from the object that you are focusing on, you then enter into a superconscious state of samadhi (eighth limb of yoga), where you reach self-realization and cognitive unification.
The first stage of meditation involves stilling your mind to gain a sense of peace, stillness and tranquility. At this stage you are fully awake and conscious with the mind at ease, resting with the body.
When you start to practice meditation it is useful to focus on the breathing. Focus on the pace, duration and quality of your breath, as it connects the mind with the body. To begin with you can count the out breaths from one to ten and then back to one again for a few times. Breathe normally and focus on the movement of the breathing without changing its rhythm.
You can also focus on a visual imagine of your preference such as imagining a light within your ‘inner eye’, a flower, a symbol etc., anything that makes you relax and engage in the meditation.
Another way to try to relax and meditate is to think of a specific affirmation thought like, “I am happy and relaxed” or “I am a positive and optimist person”. These thoughts should be positive and in the present tense. Repeat your affirmation until the mind is at rest, you can repeat it up loud or in silent. You can also chant the mantra OM and imagine its symbol while you meditate.
When you are trying to meditate and relax you can also imagine a light going over each part of the body starting from the feet all the way up to the top of the head. Concentrate on each part as you go along, allowing time for the body to relax.
You can also focus on the universal energy and light coming through your feet and going up through the chakras from the root chakra to the crown chakra and back to the universe, creating an energy cycle around you as a way to focus your thoughts and energy for meditation.
Yoga Postures for Meditation
The corpse pose is a good posture to encourage meditation, as a meditative state can come naturally after a yoga practice.
If you prefer to meditate while sitting you can use the following yoga postures for meditation:
The auspicious pose (swastikasana) – the easiest of the three classical yoga poses.
The perfect pose, also known as accomplished pose (siddhasana) – is valued for stabilizing sexual energy.
The lotus pose (padmasana) – brings a profound sense of repose.
The easy posture (sukasana) – suitable for short periods of meditation before you are comfortable in the traditional poses.
The adamantine pose (vajrasana) – kneeling position with the thighs together and the head and torso vertical. Keep the feet together with the upper surface facing the floor and the heels slightly apart. Lower the body until you are sitting on the heels. You can use cushions for support or you can sit on an inclining bench for a comfortable position.
The friendship pose (maitryasana) – excellent if you need to sit on a chair. Sit on the edge of a chair with the head, neck and spine in a straight line, knees apart, feet flat on the floor and hands resting on the thighs.