DHYANA - meditation
Patanjali's 8 limbed path begins with essentially material practices: yamas & niyamas, the moral compass of living harmoniously in this world, asana and pranyama as tools of awakening that prepare us for a deeper journey into the self. Yet with these practices we are still scratching the surface, still working with the external life of the senses. Moving into the mystical realm of samadhi, first requires relieving our senses of their external distractions, developing a single pointed mental concentration, and then a meditative state.
Through asana we finally come to the physical and mental health that allows us to work easily and steadily with the breath; as we refine the breath and cultivate the life-force energy of prana then 'all that veils clarity of perception is swept away... and thought becomes fit for concentration'. But before we can fully concentrate we must tame our minds attachments to the wake of our senses. We can then bring our mind into its own inner space, freed from external stimulation, pratyahara, and only then can we fully concentrate, dharana. By intensely focussing the mind on one thing, there is no space for anything else. In concentration, a person is aware of concentrating, aware of being in a practice of single-pointed awareness, conscious of being a meditator who is meditating.
At the heart of Patanjalis approach to meditation is the idea that a steadier mind is a clearer mind. Clarity arises when 'the senses are perfectly mastered' through pratyahara and dharana :
2.55 Tatah parama vashyatendriyanam. (Parama: supreme; vashyata: mastery; indriyas: senses; tatah: by that.) Then follows supreme mastery of the senses.
Bringing us further along our path to the pure meditative state of dhyana. 'a current of unified thought' When time and trying is no longer evident, meditation happens, uninterrupted. In this state of consciousness, the truth of our being as an expression of pure love is made manifest. Free of external stimulation, present in the moment, there is only the truth of our being as love and light. There is a sense of directly knowing the essence of whatever we are meditating on, of being part of the whole existence. This effort leads to Samadhi.
THE TRADITIONAL POSTURE
In helping students set up for meditation, ask them to choose a comfortable seated position, with comfort being the most important quality. Over time alignment of the spine will lead to greater comfort in sitting for longer periods and with practice most students will eventually be able to sit on top of their sit bones with a neutral pelvis that allows their spine to be held more naturally erect. For some this requires a chair, cushion, wall for support. Guide students to sit with whatever props allows to establish and maintain a neutral pelvis, asking them to root down into their sitting bones, feeling how that grounding action leads to a taller spine, a more open chest, a more natural flow of breath, and a sense of their head floating on top of their spine. Exploring this stable and eventually more sustainable position, ask students to feel their spine, and their crown of their head extending taller as they feel more grounded through their sitting bones, from their allowing their shoulder blades to release down their back and their chin to release slightly down. The palms can rest together in their lap or in a mudra on their knees.
TIME TO MEDITATE
We can meditate any time and place. When teaching classes, we can offer brief or extended periods of meditation at the start or end of class. Amid the flow of class, you can always bring the students to a place for a few moments of self reflective meditation. Going beyond asana classes, you may want to offer classes devoted entirely to meditation or a combination of pranayama and meditation. In giving students more mediation tools, they can also explore the time and settings they find the most conducive for deep meditation. Most find the most natural inner peace and quiet in the early morning hours, before the day fills their mind with new thoughts. Others find the asana - pranayama practice lends to the most favourable inner conditions for meditation.
In guiding your classes as a way of conscious awakening, to spirit, bliss, or inner peace, the asana practice itself becomes a form of movement mediation. When fully absorbed in the flowing connection of breath-body-mind, students come to experience the present moment in a non-thinking state of awareness, so direct that it leads to spontaneity and gives way to a joy that is no longer dependant on external circumstances of freedom or attainment.
Guiding students into creating the inner space to really feel, takes them to the core of being by including everything in their experience. -- the feelng of their feet grounding into the earth, the rhythmic pulsating of breath and heart, the vibration of energy in their legs, the emotions and thoughts swirling through and around them -- bringing them ever closer to the sense of essence.
This practice ultimately extends off the mat, in the simplest of experiences -- tasting an apple, riding a bike, weeding the garden, standing in tadasana, flowing from up-dog to down-dog -- its the same : to be conscious, to give yourself the space to breathe completely, to move with intuitive spontaneity in each moment of freedom and find there more bliss for an expanding moment.
200HR TEACHER TRAINING