What is Meditation?
What we often call meditation in the West is actually the practice of focusing the mind, concentration, or in sanskrit known as Dharana. It is often miss understood as stopping the mind but rather it can be better explained as learning to control the mind and not letting the mind control you. There are many different styles or lineages of the practice. Another way to describe the practice is the art of one-pointedness.
There are multiple benefits from having a meditation practice such as centering, grounding and slowing down our busy lives and overactive brains. There have recently been many studies on the subject. A recent study from Harvard University claims that meditators v.s non-meditatiors, when scanned, showed an increased area in the brain responsible for learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation. The study also concluded that meditators had increased activity in the part of the brain associated with empathy and compassion. There was also evidence that meditating drastically lowers the fight or flight response which is connected to fear, anxiety and stress.
Ideally first thing in the morning before you go about your day. Evening before bed can also be helpful to clear your mind for a restful sleep. However, it can be beneficial in the middle of the day as well to slow down and reset.
Choose an area in your home that is peaceful and personal. Some people like to have personal items around like a picture of a loved one or an inspirational figure, an object that holds meaning from a moment in your life or something aromatic that creates a sense of calm such as candles, incense or essential oils.
Sit in a cross legged position, half lotus, full lotus or on your knees. Sit on some support like a yoga bolster, blanket or pillow if needed. Place your hands on your knees with the palms facing up or down or chooses a mudra (hand position) of your choice. Either close your eyes or pick a point or drishti to focus on. Check in with your breathing. Choose a technique of your choice such as repeating a mantra, use a visualization or an object to name a few. To learn about these specific techniques and others sign up for our 21 day Guided meditation starting this fall 2015!