Meditation is not something we can do, it just happens like falling asleep. We can prepare for it. For example, we brush our teeth, change into comfortable clothes, lie in bed and wait for sleep to come. Similarly the entire 8 fold path of yoga is a preparation for reaching self realisation, meditation being a very important aid in achieving this goal. Shri Yogendraji, the founder of The Yoga Institute, Santacruz has given us many insights in his little book – Guide to Yoga Meditation.
Yamas and Niyamas help to create a pure and steady mind.
Asanas allow the body to be healthy and flexible so we can hold a posture in relaxation, leaving the mind undisturbed by the dualities of life – Night and day, pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc.
During the 10 day Vippasana Courses, there are 1 hour sittings of adishtan or strong determination where you ideally should not open your eyes or change the position of your legs and arms. Needless to say these 1 hour sittings can be quite a torture! In his discourse Goenkaji when explaining the reason for adishtan gives us the example of Buddha who sat down under a tree with the strong determination that he would not change his position till he got enlightened. He then asks you to imagine yourself as the buddha; this always brings a spurt of giggles from those of use who failed miserably in the first ten minutes:)
Pranayama or controlling the bio energy, helps us to slow down and stop the further generation of karma by controlling impulsiveness and breaking the vicious cycle of action and reaction.
Pratyahara is the turning in of the senses which happens naturally when we master pranayama. The senses are often depicted as 5 wild horses moving in different directions which are pulling a chariot!
Dharana is concentration on one chosen object and can take place only after a certain amount of mastery over the senses.
The breath is a wonderful tool for concentration as it is constantly there with us from the moment we are born till the day we die. The breath reflects our emotional state. It gives us immediate rewards for being observers or witnesses. The breath gets smoother and subtler without any doing on our part. The smoother the breath, the more peaceful and wonderful the state of mind.
Dhyan is meditation which is the result of deep concentration. Here there is an uninterrupted flow of consciousness to the chosen object of concentration.
Osho describes meditation as relaxing into your being. We are very uncomfortable with doing nothing. Almost immediately we react; we turn on the TV, read a book, clean, call someone, think about the past or the future. To be alone, present, aware, doing nothing is very uncomfortable for the mind, so it quickly finds ways and means to distract you.
As beginners our attempts at meditation, give us lots of insight about how much control we really have over the mind. Have fun on the path of meditation and enjoy the antics of the mind.