A Journey to Inner Calm

Many persons are drawn to yoga for the physical benefits, predominantly gaining greater flexibility. However, the heavily popularised physical asanas (poses) are actually a very small part of yoga. Asana sequences are meant to prepare the body for meditation. Asanas work the body so the mind has a healthy home. They work on strengthening weak areas and releasing tension where tightness exists so one may easier come to sit in stillness. That stillness after a flow is where the magic happens, a typically racing mind is allowed a few moments of peace. In those moments one begins a journey into self. Consistent trips lead to greater self-awareness, greater self-acceptance and greater self-appreciation. All of this cultivates healthier mental responses to external stressors.

A great summarising quote from The Yoga Bible, written by Christina Brown is “The real challenge in life is to manage to stay ‘with’ yourself while at the same time interacting with others; to respond appropriately to people and events while maintaining a sense of connection to yourself.”

However, quieting the mind is easier said than done. The mind always wants to dart from thought to thought. I know this intimately from experience. Also, you may wonder “How can I fit a flow of physical poses, coupled with meditation, into an already packed day?” As someone with a packed schedule and a mind that’s very fond of field trips, here are a few practical tips that have worked for me:

Start Small

You do not have to begin trying to meditate for 30 minutes; you don’t need to start a personal physical asana practice for an hour. You start with what you have available and what can realistically be integrated into your schedule. You may find that you can do a 10-minute flow with 2 minutes of quieting the mind. That’s okay. Begin where you are and journey from there.

Release Judgement

When you sit to meditate you may find after a few seconds the mind starts to think about “What should I eat for dinner?”, “How do I meet all my deadlines?”, “I have to find time to go to the supermarket.” The mind begins to race and suddenly you think you are bad at meditation. You need to soften that judgment of yourself. Always remember your journey is your own. If the mind wanders to thoughts, recognise what has happened and bring the mind back. I find bringing the mind back to focus on the breath is a good place to start. You can also use a word repeated in the mind, to push the thought away.

Get Comfortable

Type meditation into Google Image Search and the first images are likely to be ones of persons sitting on the floor in a cross-legged seat, hands on their knees, palms facing up. You can sit in this position if you want but know you do not have to. The best position for meditation is a comfortable posture where both body and mind feel alert and attentive. You want a feeling of relaxation without being so relaxed that you drift off to sleep. Can you meditate standing up or lying down? Technically yes, again if you feel alert and attentive while still remaining relaxed. Typically when lying down you feel so relaxed you want to drift off to sleep and when standing up you tend to feel too tense, especially after a few minutes. Sitting tends to provide a perfect balance. However, we are all different so explore various positions and find what works best for you.

Mindfulness and meditation tend to be used almost interchangeably but note when most persons state Mindfulness from the perspective of Meditation they are often referring to Mindfulness Meditation, which is a form of Meditation. There are other types. I practice Mindfulness Meditation which speaks towards cultivating awareness and being present in the moment.

Older Post Newer Post