Yoga’s esoteric reputation can be somewhat intimidating, so we’ve created a cheat-sheet to give new and old practitioners alike a more accessible guide to the lineage of their beloved practice. For March we’re taking a closer look at the benefits of meditation.
What is meditation exactly?Meditation is an ancient technique used to quiet the mind and heighten awareness. Yoga as most of us know it, the physical practice of asana, was originally created to work out all the kinks in the body, so the practitioner would be able to sit comfortably in stillness and meditate on the divine. In the Western world we are only just beginning to realize the profound benefits of mindfulness meditation.
So what are the benefits of meditation?It’s an exhaustive list! A few benefits of meditation include decreased depression and anxiety, increased focus, better memory and a general sense of wellbeing. Even more interesting are the scientific studies which link meditation to reduced risk of disease and a slowing down of the brain’s aging process.
When and where should I meditate?Traditionally the early hours of the morning are an auspicious time to meditate – when the world is quiet and distractions are minimal. However, many people find it easier to do it in the evening as part of their pre-bedtime routine. Pick a time of day that works for you and set aside 5-20 minutes initially. Find a quiet spot and make yourself comfortable. Some people like to create a sacred space with candles, incense, flowers and objects that have significance to them. The routine of sitting down (either on a cushion or chair) in this special spot begins to automatically bring them into a mindful headspace.
Which meditation techniques should I try as a beginner?
1. Mantra: Pick a word or phrase (perhaps something you wish to manifest in your life) and repeat it silently to yourself. Try to feel and experience the words and let their sound hold your focus.
2. Visualization: Many people like to imagine an object from nature – a lotus flower or the ocean. Try to see it in your mind’s eye. Notice its texture, colors and sound (if it has one).
3. Breath: This classic technique uses the rhythm of breath as the focal point. Pay attention to its journey in and out of the body, the length of each inhale and exhale and the sensations it evokes. You can also count each breath if that helps you to concentrate.
4. Gazing: Pick an object – a flower, ornament or candle. Soften your gaze and try to really absorb this image. Then close your eyes and picture it in your mind, just as you saw it in front of you.