4 pillars of Meditation as taught by Yoga Sages

What is Meditation?

Meditation is often confused with myriad of different things: mental focus, pondering, repetition of mantra and even napping! Yes, someone told me how meditation always helps to sink into a pleasant nap.
Much can be said about meditation. In a few words Meditation is the road to enlightenment. Before you “free dive” into the deepness of consciousness, you should learn about 4 pillars of Meditation, as taught by Yoga sages.

1.  Pranayama, ability to direct the life energy

In Yoga system of beliefs, Prana is energy of life or cosmic energy that showers down on all beings. We humans absorb this energy through breathing. Through conscious breathing we prepare the mind for meditation. The deep breathing relaxes the nerves allowing the muscle and vital organs to rest without the slumber.

There are over 40 different Pranayama techniques, best to start with Surya bhedana, or Breath of the Sun:

  • Inhale in through right nostril while counting to 4.
  • Hold the breath while count till 4.
  • Exhale through left nostril while counting till 4.

When the rhythm is smooth and even, you can release the help of counting and trust the inner process.

If you practice Pranayama at evening, try instead the Chandra bhedana or Breath of the Moon, inhaling and exhaling through opposite nostrils (starting with inhalation through left nostril and exhaling through right nostril).

If you have high blood pressure or heart condition, do not hold the breath, exhale slowly and completely without the stopping the breath flow.

2. Pratyahara, or directing the senses inwardly

The mind is the most perfect computer that process the thoughts at speed of light. The mind controls everything, from cell life to complete world we create for ourselves. It executes decisions based on information that constantly stream through senses and nervous system. This mind that we buried with trivialities of life is capable of much greater things than what we believe it could do. The unappreciated Cinderella – mind is pushed by sisters-senses to process information while it should be a royalty ruling over the senses. When we stop those impulses (Indrias, is Sanskrit term for physical strength and for the five senses) and their proceeds: analysing, labeling and speculating, the mind will transcend to higher consciousness.

In few words here is how you can lead yourself to second stage of Meditation:

  • Start leading the way by locking the glance while looking down, slightly above the tip of the nose. (Trataka, Sanskrit for steady gaze)Relax your mind, transcend the need to be in control. Allow yourself to experience the state of freedom from pesky thoughts and feelings. Don’t be afraid to unplug your senses and experience a void. Acknowledge that mind exist beyond the senses. It is a huge, deep ocean. Let the “inner waves” show you the higher consciousness that cannot be perceived through senses and thinking process. Instead of “using” your mind experience the unity with the mind. You ARE your mind.When the senses are excluded the “object-subject” view disappears, thus we experience the world by becoming one with it.
  • If you feel more at repose when your eyes are closed, direct the inner glance at the area of Third Eye (Ajna Chakra).Glance softly to the inner space between eyebrows, without thinking about it, just stay open, relax and without thoughts on your mind like a sky without the clouds. When you reach your inner centre, release this thought too. Just be there, free of emotions and thoughts, at repose.Just be present. Here. Now. Do not think or try to analyze – just simply let yourself be. Make a habit of taking the time in Pratyahara, sitting in the inner shrine of your being. When you feel you have immediate and intuitive understanding of the world inside and outside of you – you have reached your centre.

3. Dharana, one pointed mind

When your focus has shifted inward, now you can feel there is a big gap. It is absence of ego and all qualities that we perceive as our persona. The ego or sense of self (Ahamkara, Sanskrit for ego) has grown out of experiences of being separated from the world, perceiving self to be something else than others. The ego is, as you guess, connected to senses. In fact the way we perceive the world becomes our persona.

The One-Pointed Meditation (also known as Ekagrata, Sanskrit for intense pursuit or focus) is process of developing awareness that surpasses the ego’s point of view.

Here are few ways to start well-grounded Dharana practice:

  • Connect your awareness to one life size figure: you guru, an enlighten teacher, or inspiring person that had positive influence on you.
  • If you wish you can also focus on natural powers – the wind, sun, forest, mountain, ocean, or animals.

Allow yourself to experience the unity. See yourself in them, see them in you. One pointedness. One heartedness. Experience self as being one with Cosmic force (Prana) that flows through all beings and forms of existence. We are just a forms of energy, no other forms are higher or lower than your own form. We are all energy (Shakti, Sanskrit for energy) expressing our own unique nature.

Becoming one with something is the key to overcome the separateness of egoistic persona. If your Dharana is focused on ocean, feel the smell of ocean in the air, focus on it till you feel the salt on your lips. Feel the freshness of cool waters, hear the thunder of rolling waves. Experience ocean through power to filter out all other thoughts, till there is no walls in your room, no dry land – just beautiful ocean as far as the eye can see. Completely erase the line between you and ocean – BE IT!

This is the gradual process of dissolving the ego’ grip on observing everything as a separate entity. With that comes as follow: analysing, labelling and judging everything according to the “mould” of our own persona. Instead, through Meditation let yourself free from boundaries. Experience yourself as a wider being. Stay open. Trust your instincts.

4. Samadhi, the unity with the universe

This is the goal of Yoga practice. To get here it takes discipline, practice, patience and most of all willingness to let go of ego and what we perceive self and life to be. In complexed Yoga system of beliefs the human soul Jiva Atma is liberated when we stop identifying with ego. At that point you can live your highest potential on the very casual ways. Everything is now Yoga, the way you drink the water is Yoga, the way you go for the walk is

Yoga, and everything is now full of awareness and joy.

Wishing you peace and joy on your path.

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Stasia Fisher is a certified Yoga, Pilates and Meditation Instructor. She practices Yoga since 90's and teaches since 2005. In 2011 she successfully completed the Ayurveda course, endorsed by Indian national Institute of Ayurveda Medicine, with Dr. Sumit Keasakar. Her path is the evolving story of humble Yoga Teacher, practicing Yoga on lunch breaks and meditating in the seat of the car. From office cubicle Yoga took her to Himalayan little town of Laxman Jhoola where she found her place as Yoga Teacher at Omkaranada Ashram. Yoga led her to changes, she was back to Las Vegas, teaching in beautiful studios inside hotels on fabulous Strip. Yoga and Sanatana Dharma led her through amusing life-changing process, while keeping her grounded through meaningful twists and turns of life. If this is the Yoga you want to practice, she will be glad to teach you what she has learned on her path. For more information on classes please visit her website.