Tag Archives: Meditation

bhakti

Devotion is when you are deeply present with what is happening…When you are absent in one way or another…that inability to see things accurately is, in a certain way, a lack of devotion.

David Garrigues (5:48 into interview)

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teaching children meditation

When we teach meditation to children, we need to choose age-appropriate techniques that foster their total growth and development. The word “meditation” is an English term for a wide range of practices and techniques.

From the point of view of yogic physiology, children below age eight do not need much formal meditation training. It is more important for these children that their parents learn yoga and meditation and carry yogic principles into their homes. Children absorb the energy of the environment. If their parents practice some form of self-development, their children will grow up in a healthier, more relaxed and aware environment.

By the age of eight, a child’s fundamental personality has formed and his or her body begins a process of preparing for puberty. Changes begin to occur in children’s brains around the age of eight, and these changes reach a peak during puberty. When we teach meditation to this age group, our main aim is to support balanced physical and mental development.

Eight-year-olds in India learn three practices to foster total physical, mental, and spiritual development. These are Sun Salutation for the body, alternate nostril breathing for the brain and mind, and mantras for the deeper mind and spirit. These practices can slow the onset of puberty and balance its effects by acting on the subtle channels that flow in the spine. Mental development then has time to catch up to physical changes.

Yogic physiology explains how this occurs. A child’s physical changes during puberty are under the control of pingala nadi, the spinal channel that carries prana, the life force. Mental development occurs under the control of ida nadi, the spinal channel that carries psychological force. Excessive stimulation of the physical channel alone, as tends to occur in the normal social environment, causes imbalanced development and can make puberty a rough process. The yogic practices taught children at this time stimulate both channels equally, to stimulate physical and mental growth at the same time.

Mantras are the main meditative practices taught to this age group, as they powerfully affect the brain and its development. The main mantra taught is the Gayatri mantra. This mantra has 24 syllables, each of which stimulates a different part of the brain. Gayatri is the mantra to stimulate our intelligence.

Our students in the post-pubertal stage of adolescence can engage in more classical forms of meditation. We can teach them techniques that further support their mental development, for example, so that they can stay relaxed and able to concentrate during these most important learning years.

Excerpts from Yoga Journal Article Teaching Meditation to Children By Swami Shankardev Saraswati, Ph.D.


mandukya upanishad

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The theme of the Mandukya Upanishad is an exposition of the Mystic Syllable, Om, with a view to training the mind in meditation, for the purpose of achieving freedom, gradually, so that the individual soul is attuned to the Ultimate Reality.

The basis of this meditation is explained in the Vidya (meditation), known as the Vaisvanara Vidya. This is the secret of the knowledge of the Universal Being, designated as Vaisvanara. Its simple form of understanding is a transference of human attributes to the Divine Existence, and vice versa. In this meditation, one contemplates the Cosmos as one’s Body. Instead of one contemplating oneself as the individual body, one contemplates oneself as the Universal Body. Instead of the right eye, there is the sun. Instead of the left eye, there is the moon. Instead of the feet, there is the earth. Instead of the head, there is the heaven, and so on. The limbs of the Cosmic Person are identified with cosmic elements, and vice versa, so that there is nothing in the cosmos which does not form an organic part of the Body of the Virat, or Vaisvanara. When you see the vast world before you, you behold a part of your own Body. When you look at the sun, you behold your own eye. When you look above into the heavens, you are seeing your own head. When you see all people moving about, you behold the various parts of your own personality. The vast wind is your breath. All your actions are cosmic movements. Anything that moves, does so on account of your movement. Your breath is the Cosmic Vital Force. Your intelligence is the Cosmic Intelligence. Your existence is Cosmic Existence. Your happiness is Cosmic Bliss.

Though the Mandukya Upanishad gives certain symbolic instances of identification of limbs with the Cosmic Body, the meditator, in fact, can choose any symbol or symbols for such form of identification.

The Vidya has its origin, actually, in the Rig-Veda, in a famous Sukta, or hymn, called the Purusha-Sukta. The Purusha-Sukta of the Rig-Veda commences by saying that all the heads, all the eyes, and all the feet that we see in this world are the heads, eyes, and feet of the Virat-Purusha, or the Cosmic Being. With one head, the Virat nods in silence; with another face He smiles; with a third one, He frowns; in one form, He sits; in another form, He moves; in one form, He is near; in another form, He is distant. So, all the forms, whatever they be, and all the movements and actions, processes and relations, become parts of the Cosmic Body, with which the Consciousness should be identified simultaneously. When you think, you think all things at the same time in all the ten directions; nay, in every way.

Excerpt from the Introduction to the Mandukya Upanishad by Swami Krishnananda


yoga nidra

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Yoga Nidra means Yogic Sleep. It is a state of conscious Deep Sleep. In Meditation, you remain in the Waking state of consciousness, and gently focus the mind, while allowing thought patterns, emotions, sensations, and images to arise and go on. However, in Yoga Nidra, you leave the Waking state, go past the Dreaming state, and go to Deep Sleep, yet remain awake. While Yoga Nidra is a state that is very relaxing, it is also used by Yogis to purify the Samskaras, the deep impressions that are the driving force behind Karma (See Karma article).

 Yoga Nidra has been known for thousands of years by the sages and yogis. Of the three states of consciousness of Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep, as expounded in the Upanishads, particularly the Mandukya Upanishad, Yoga Nidra refers to the conscious awareness of the Deep Sleep state, referred to as prajna in Mandukya Upanishad. This is the third of the four levels of consciousness of AUM mantra, relating to the state represented by the M of AUM. The four states are Waking, Dreaming, sleep, and turiya, the fourth state. The state of Yoga Nidra, conscious Deep Sleep, is beyond or subtler than the imagery and mental process of the Waking and Dreaming states.

In Yoga Nidra, you leave the Waking state,
go through the Dreaming state,
and into the Deep Sleep state,
yet remain fully awake.

 Excerpt from swamij.com Article Yoga Nidra


samyama

Samyama is defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali verses 3.1 through 3.6 as follows:

देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा ॥ १॥
deśabandhaścittasya dhāraṇā .. 1..
Fixing the consciousness on one point or region is concentration (dhāraṇā).

तत्र प्रत्ययैकतानता ध्यानम् ॥ २॥
tatra pratyayaikatānatā dhyānam .. 2..
A steady, continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region is meditation (dhyāna).

तद् एवार्थमात्रनिर्भासं स्वरूपशून्यम् इव समाधिः ॥ ३॥
tad evārthamātranirbhāsaṃ svarūpaśūnyam iva samādhiḥ .. 3..
When the object of meditation engulfs the meditator, appearing as the subject, self-awareness is lost. This is samādhi.

त्रयम् एकत्र संयमः ॥ ४॥
trayam ekatra saṃyamaḥ .. 4..
These three together [dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi] constitute integration or saṃyama.

तज्जयात् प्रज्ञालोकः ॥ ५॥
tajjayāt prajñālokaḥ .. 5..
From mastery of saṃyama comes the light of awareness and insight.

तस्य भूमिषु विनियोगः ॥ ६॥
tasya bhūmiṣu viniyogaḥ .. 6..
Saṃyama may be applied in various spheres to derive its usefulness.

Once Patanjali lays out the training in concentration–dharana, dhyana, and samadhi–he instructs the practitioner to use the resultant attention skills to explore all phenomena in the created world, including the mind itself. The yogi learns to use the “perfect discipline” (samyama) of concentrated mind to explore the entire field of mind and matter. Indeed, much of the third book of the Yoga Sutra, which is widely believed to be just about the attainment of supernormal powers, actually contains Patanjali’s instructions for a systematic exploration of the field of experience.

Excerpt from Yoga Journal Article Seeing Eye to Eye by Stephen Cope