“Meditation is a way of reigniting our love affair with life. It is intimacy with all things”, (Dr. Lorin Roche, PhD).
When we feel stressed or busy, we often find ourselves disconnected from our body and up in our head thinking, judging and analysing. So often life is happening, but we find ourselves elsewhere. We run on auto-pilot and forget the wonders and delight of our inspiring body, and the fascinating world around us.
The Importance of Meditation
When we live up in our head we are either in the past or the future, not in the present. Meditation brings our awareness and senses back into the present, so we can live a more mindful life. Meditation allows us to rest deeply, but the mind is still free to process what is going on around us. We have more awareness than we do in sleep, and less distraction than daily moments of thoughts.
A Yogic Interpretation to Meditation
In the Yoga tradition, there are five layers to the human body as written in theUpanishads (Ancient Indian collection of texts of religious and philosophical nature). To reach true bliss and fulfilment we must recognise these five layers as veils we have between our personality and our true Self, or Atman.
Meditation allows us to recognise these veils of limitations and uncover who we truly are.When we meditate we go from gross awareness to subtle awareness, connecting us to our true nature. We explore the Kosha’s through the physical layer of the body, and then more subtle in the energy body.
Maya can mean ‘illusion’ but here translates to ‘consists of’ or ‘contains’.
- Annamaya kosha – Physical Body, practice asana to reduce tightness and tension, eat/drink well
- Pranamaya kosha – Energy Body, breathe well, nourish the body in all you do
- Manamaya kosha – Mental Body, thoughts become things: choose the good ones
- Vijnanamaya kosha – Wisdom Body, strengthening the connection with our intuitive nature
- Anandamaya kosha – Bliss Body, merging with the flow of life within you and around you
- Atman- True Self, recognising we are not separate from, but one with the divine
Possible Benefits of Meditation
Meditation allows us to harness thoughts to action, process old emotions and tension in the body, and cultivate more peace, clarity and happiness. We often move through the Annamaya and Pranamaya Kosha being physically conscious beings, but find it hard to bridge the gap to master the mind (Manamaya Kosha) and feel completely at home in our intuitive self (Vijnamaya Kosha). When we train themind to be more aware, we discover that there is so much more to be aware of, easily going from gross awareness to the more subtle side of our nature.
Creating time and building discipline for meditation each day allows you to play out our desires, recognise the limitations of the mind, and connect with the energy within. Meditation is resting in the awareness of our True Self by travelling deeper through the awareness layers of the Koshas. Play with different techniques that make you feel at home in meditation. Like you want to do it, meet it, and learn from it each day. Unbound awareness will naturally arise as we allow our true nature to feel fully connected.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French Philosopher
Three Meditation Techniques to Get You Started
1.Pranayama, practices to extend the breath or life force within:
- Sama Vritti Breath: Inhale for the count of 4, Exhale for the count of 4. Enjoy for 8-12 rounds.
- Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breath): Take your right hand and tuck your peace fingers into the palm of your hand. Use your right thumb to seal your right nostril and your ring finger to seal your left nostril. Take a clearing breath in, and a full exhalation to clear the nostrils.
- Thumb seals right nostril, inhale left side, ring finger seals left, exhale right side, thumb seals, inhale left nostril. This is one full round. Continue alternating sides on every exhalation. Enjoy for 8-12 rounds. Relax your right shoulder, soften the breath, and allow the fingers to complement the direction of the air coming in and going out.
Sit with yourself after completing that breath rhythm. Notice what moves, what wants to be still, get curious to what arises in your mind, and how your body wants to focus. Enjoy playing with the delight that comes from nourishing your nervous system.
2. Sensory awareness:
- Walking around the room, feel your feet on the earth from the heels to the balls of the feet. Notice the way your limbs hang from the body, how your joints move to keep you supported, anchored and steady. How do you hold yourself from left to right? Where does your weight move in the body? Explore the space around you and moving through the space with effortless attention. Now come to a still place. Sense your body in the space, in the room, the limbs heavy. Naturally your body will ebb and flow to recalibrate your kinaesthetic awareness in stillness.
- Bend your elbows and bring your palms up to face one another. Start to move your palms wide apart from each other, and then slowly back together. Build a slow rhythm to this movement, sensing the space between the palms getting smaller and smaller and then bigger and bigger. Go from slow to fast, big to small, notice where the limbs and joints are in space. Notice your body in relationship to space. Notice the space between the palms as you start to play with the space between the palms like a box or a ball. What do you sense? You can simply stay with this movement with the hands, or start to move around the room again.
- Very slowly bring the palms to touch lightly together, and just enjoy being in stillness sensing the current of your whole body.
- Just be. Be all that you want to be in this moment. Movement of stillness, thoughtlessness or desires. Allow your senses to take you to a world of inner exploration.
3. Salute to the Senses*:
Let your awareness travel around your sense of Smell, Taste, Sight, Sound, Touch and Movement. You can do these one at a time, or all together. From 30secs to a few minutes on each sense.
Embrace each sense, notice what you can associate with it, how it feels, remember a time where you loved something with that sense, play with your awareness and let every sense be awake, embrace what makes you feel at home, and what feels uncomfortable, allow your whole body to radiate as one sensational being.
This techniques helps you to build a relationship with your whole self. From physical being to more energy matter vibrating in form. Enjoy the sensations that having this awareness brings.
*Inspired from Meditation Made Easy, by Dr. Lorin Roche