Preparing to Meditate
In the last column, I discussed the benefits of meditation and why you should attempt to practice it in your life on a daily basis.
Take meditation to heart
as a golden path to Infinity
which must be experienced
in practical activity each day
~ ~ Yogi Bhajan
Preparing for meditation is more than just sitting down, closing your eyes and breathing. You must be present and open, as meditation is opening yourself to the Universe, to Infinity.
Go to your sacred space that you have set up for meditation. If you have not set up a special place, then go someplace quiet where you will not be disturbed.
While meditation is working on your mind, it also is working on your body. To be able to have a healthy meditation practice, your body needs to be comfortable and your circulation stimulated. With this mindset, it is recommended that you do several stretches before sitting down to meditate. These can be yoga asanas (poses), or your own series of stretches. You want to get your body moving!
This is when you can sit down in easy pose (Sukhasana), cross-legged on the floor. If you are unable to sit on the floor, then sitting in a straight-backed chair works very well. You want your spine to be straight, but you also want to be comfortable in your position. Take as much time as you need to be comfortable in your meditation posture.
Once you are comfortable, rub the palms of your hands together to build up a bit of heat and energy; bring your hands together into prayer post and bring them to your heart center. This is when you want to center yourself, to be really present in your meditation space. Please refer to my October column (A Moment for Meditation – Why Meditation) for directions on how to accomplish this. Take one last deep cleansing inhale and complete exhale.
Now bring your hands down into gyan mudra. Mudras are yoga postures for your hands and will be explained more fully in a future column. Gyan mudra is simply touching the tip of your index finger to your thumb; then bring your hands down to rest your wrists on your knees, keeping your hands in this mudra. Gyan mudra is the seal of wisdom.
We will start with a very simple meditation which is for breath awareness. Continue to sit in easy post, being very comfortable in the posture; again taking all the time you need. Your eyes will continue to be focused on the third eye, as described in the last column. Now bring your attention to your breath. Be aware of each inhale and exhale. Take your time. Pay attention to how you feel at the beginning of this breath meditation — how does your body feel? Tight? Nervous? In Kundalini Yoga, which is the yoga I am certified to teach, we use a mantra (sound vibration, which also will be discussed in a future column) to help us to keep our thoughts at bay and our mind on the meditation. The one most commonly used is Sat Nam, both with an “aaahh” sound. You would mentally vibrate Sat on your inhale and Nam on your exhale. This mantra means “truth is my identity”, which is a wonderful identity to have. Of course, you are welcome to use something that is meaningful to you to keep your focus. Feel the breath as it enters your body. Visualize yourself becoming engulfed in a beautiful white light. Continue with this breath for at least 11 minutes, if you are able to. When you finish, please take a long deep inhale and hold it for just a moment or two, then a complete exhale.
Upon completion of the meditation, lie down on your back. As you may experience a slight chill, place a light covering over your body. Let your arms fall by your side, palms up. This is called Savasana, or corpse pose. Allow your body to totally relax, starting from your head down to your feel. Your breath should also be relaxed, but conscious. The goal is to relax, not to fall asleep, although some do exactly that. Allow your body to just fall away and be supported by Mother Earth beneath you. Stay in this position for at least 5-8 minutes.
When you are done, stretch your arms up, taking a deep inhale and exhale. Hug your knees up to your chest and rock, waking up your spine. Come back to easy pose and sit, with your normal breath until you feel ready to go about your day.
Peace & Namaste