How meditation improves your mental clarity and wellbeing
I've been meditating for many years. Having had the priviledge of being on meditation retreats and workshops with many wonderful teachers including Adyashanti, Gangaji, Jack Kornfield, Jeff Foster, Byron Katie and even spent a weekend with the Dalai Lama in London many years ago. I have to say though that with HH The Dalai Lama, I didn't meditate much as I kept falling asleep!
For me yoga and meditation are one and the same. Yoga is a moving meditation. For all the ways in which meditation can help are added to the fact that you move (slowly) too. As we age however, it becomes increasingly more and more difficult to sit in meditation for some people, especially if they have joint pain. This makes them unable to cross their legs, in constant pain, such a busy mind. That's why a yoga practice that is mindful movements of body and mind is so helpful.
Many modern yoga practices are more like fitness regimes, we've taken the fact we move our bodies and assumed that we have to move like we are at the gym. However, for proper alignment of the spine, and of the other joints keeping on moving in the same ways you always have will not correct these postural habits and you could be doing more damage on the joints. While there is a time and place to get fit in those cardio ways, for me that doesn't need to happen on the yoga mat. And the ability to meditate in my practice is lost if I am moving too fast, pushing into postures or have a focus of keeping fit.
What I like to do on my yoga mat and in my practice is align my body with my mind. Meditate on each joint. Look for renewal and rejuvenation.
1. Smile. Thich Nhat Hanh has a wonderful expression. Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I smile.
Any restrictions I meet, whether they are in my body. or in my mind, are one and the same, so I meet them with the breath and a smile. I meditate on them. If I find a tightness in my joints - my knee, my hip, my shoulder or elbow, If there is soreness in my feet or ankles I can rest, breathe, meditate and watch how over time, allowing gravity to work there is a gentle ebbing away of the tightness. And I'm in no rush this could take 5 minutes or 5 years. Meditation is timeless. There is no agenda other than to stay in the moment, breathe and be.
2. Meditate on any restrictions.
The reason why meditation is being touted all over the world is because it gives the mind and body a chance to be still. In the stillness can arise mental clarity and well being. What is not so obvious about that is the act of meditation is about noticing and observing everything that arises. That means that sometimes a meditation will have a lack of mental clarity. And there will be no well-being. Meditation is meeting those more tricky moments with an open heart as they appear in our consciousness.
4. Meditate on an object - Drishti - Concentrated Focus (Tratak Kriya) to meditate on an object is an ancient tradition. Focus on a candle or an ancient symbol with intensity and a gaze that unwavers. Some practioners say let the gaze be so intense that your eyes water. In yoga as a moving meditation we are using the body as our object of focus. Staying focused on one area. Gaze with the inner eye to the hip, the knee, the shoulder.
As you explore with eyes open or closed each area of the body, each tighness or restriction you feel and allowing your focus to go deeper into those areas (without blinking) means you gain a clarity and a wisdom about your own body. You meet and greet your body with kindness and loving attention.
Some of the benefits of meditation
- Eliminate anxiety and stress
- Enhanced ability to focus
- Reduction of mental fog
- Increase of mental clarity
- Boost of emotional states of joy and happiness
- Reveal new ideas, new possibilities and new directions
So whether you are doing a moving meditation - yoga in the way that I teach is is very, very still, or a sitting meditation all these benefits can be gained.
If you would like to know more about how to still your mind during yoga please visit my website and download my free guide Joint Renewal System(TM)