Sunday, October 12, 2008
What is Meditation?
Yogini asked me about why I meditate if I also practice yoga, afterall yoga is meditation, right? I first learned meditation (after hatha yoga) as Transcendental Meditation, the TM technique. It is based on the silent repetition of an internal sound- your assigned mantra- for 20 minutes in the AM and 20 minutes in the PM. As a focusing technique, it was excellent but I found myself repeating the mantra during my hatha practice and incorporating breathing techniques as well. After some years, the mantra seemed to continue on its own in my memory sound. I started to practice Buddhist based techniques of following the breath and mindfulness practices including walking, writing and sitting practice. My asana practice decreased in length and I naturally felt energy rising into my brain...so I made watching this energy my practice for a number of years along with an inquiry practice (Who am I?) while bringing my attention to the witness of these thoughts. Two summers ago, I met an advanced Kundalini teacher at a breast cancer 5k walk and I was compelled to sit and meditate near her. When I had a chance to talk with her, she told me that my third eye was opening and closing, and, she asked me if I meditated. I told her about the mindfulness techniques, the witnessing, and she just made a curious expression and said meditation helps to open the chakras. Because her presence was so powerful, I decided to begin a one hour practice each morning, and extend that time on the weekends. I have been using various Kundalini mantras, prayers, and consciously opening myself as a channel for grace, i.e. sharing positive energy. Sending goodwill as well as experencing the uplifting energy has made me convert my day to day life to a service practice. All of this could be too much for many yogis but it fits with my vision of the world, and, it reaffirms a way to practice love. Currently, as a student of Paramahansa Yogananda's lessons, and through research, I have begun to see that my path is a combination of needs related to my own karma and I accept the diversity in my approach to self-realization. So mantras run in my mind throughout the day, and if I feel uncentered, I pick up the pen or practice mindfulness in whatever I am doing- even in hatha yoga.