Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What is meditation?

I have to admit that I didn't start to practice meditation right away...or at least as quickly as I started to get into the physical practice of yoga. I just didn't see the point of sitting in a cross-legged position and doing nothing. Then as my physical practice of yoga evolved, I started to explore meditation. I heard so many good things about it: Neuroscientists have found that people who meditate shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex - brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear (Psychology Today, 2003)

Anyway, this is what I experienced by meditating 18 minutes/day for the past few months: I experienced that by meditating and recognizing or watching my thoughts without grabbing on to them, I began to create space in my mind and from that space insights arose. These insights were different from my normal thought process and enabled me to look at the world, to investigate things, to make connections in a way that freed me from the same old pattern of behavior and thinking.
There are different types of meditation, but the hardest part is to get started. Anyway, here's what I suggest:

1. Start with 10 minutes a day when you can sit quietly with no noise or interruptions. Set a timer (most cellphones have timers built into them, so check out yours to see if it has one!)

2. Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position with your back against the wall with your spine nice and long. You can place a blanket underneath your sitbones, or sit up on your yoga mat folded several times.

3. Close your eyes and just focus on your breath. Watch your breath and see if you can inhale and exhale through your nose. As you do this regularly, you will notice that your breath will lengthen.

That's it! Try this, and let me know what comes up!! Be patient..you'll start to notice subtle but wonderful things happen as you do this everyday!! I'll write about more advanced techniques in future posts...

Blessings and Namaste,

Anna

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