Meditation and Yoga: Hand-in-Hand

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Much of our daily life is spent living in our heads, focused on what we are thinking, versus what we are feeling. With the demands of work and home we are often required to mentally stay one step ahead just to get through our day. But if we navigate life led by our thoughts alone, we miss out on a world of information available to us through our bodies and spirits.  If we don’t quiet our minds they make us unhealthy and want to over eat or drink. Meditation can truly help us lose weight as it provides a feeling of being full that no cake will ever top.

The ancient practice of meditation is as integral to yoga as the poses, with the same intention: not to tune out, but to tune in to a frequency long forgotten, or perhaps undiscovered. Meditation is about becoming acutely aware of what is going on within you, as well as learning to tame your mind so you can focus all your energy and awareness on the task at hand. The practice of meditation helps you stay centered regardless of your circumstances. It doesn’t teach you to avoid pain or discomfort, but to experience and accept it so you can move through any situation with profound clarity and a sense of inner peace and calm.  Meditation is a wonderful way to tap into your internal “knowingness” and get into touch with your eternal essence.

Just like learning yoga breathing techniques and poses, meditation is at first awkward and unfamiliar. It’s eye opening to discover that we are controlled by incessant thoughts, and it’s frustrating to realize that many of them are unnecessary and perhaps even untrue! Sitting in silence we also realize how many common distractions compete for our attention, such as doubt, sleepiness and restlessness. Rather than using up even more energy fighting these hindrances, we eventually realize it’s far easier to acknowledge them and release them. Distractions will never let up, but you can teach yourself to let them go. In fact, this awareness of your life and distractions is the first step in developing a successful meditation practice that will improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

Furthermore, when you refine your ability to slip into a state of awareness and being, you can bring this focus into other areas of your life. No matter what is happening in your immediate environment, you can step back and respond, versus react. Whether it’s an athletic competition, work, a difficult conversation, or even play, not only will you enjoy what you are doing that much more, you will do it that much better.

So give yourself permission to be a beginner, and know that with practice your ability to concentrate will improve. Eventually, you will find that during your meditation practice you will have the experience of slipping between thoughts, or find yourself unaware of any specific thoughts at all. In this place, you not only lose track of what you hear going on around you, you often discover you’ve lost all sense of time itself. With enough practice, you’ll find that you could meditate in a noisy airport or on a busy street corner without becoming distracted whatsoever.

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