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Getting started with meditation

From: Tips from Tara Soul Yoga,

15
December
2011
Getting started with meditation

Meditation

'Meditation is a scientific method of enhancing the capacity of the mind. It fixes the mind on one's magnetic force, enhancing the ability to focus. This is the key to self realization.' - Vethathiri Maharishi.

Starting a meditation practice

Try to start today and not tomorrow. It is very easy to intend to do something but never get started. Here are some ideas for getting started:

  • Choose a space to meditate in and maybe place a candle, incense and some flowers or greens. All of the above help to create a build up of positive energy.
  • Keep the area clear and clean. This area serves as a focal point for your mind and helps to bring a suggestion of peace and encourages you to create a positive habit.
  • Allocate a time/practice intention. Perhaps first thing in morning, lunchtime or last thing at night.
  • Use a cushion if need be or a rolled up blanket
  • Aim to start with at least 5 – 10 mins, build to 15 mins and aim towards 20 – 30 mins. The first 10 minutes is really preparing the mind to meditate.
  • Do some breathing exercises before starting meditation. Some rounds of Kapalabhati , say around 3 rounds and aim for 10 rounds of anuloma viloma (alternate nostril breathing). At the end of these, let your breath settle and begin your mediation.

Kapalabhati

This is a breathing exercise as well as a cleansing exercise. (kriya). It is invigorating and good for ridding the lungs of stale air and cleansing your respiratory system.

One round. Take a couple of deep breaths. INHALE and begin:

  • Exhale, pulling your abdomen in forcefully
  • Keep the rhythm steady, not too fast when beginning and emphasise the exhalation each time.
  • After 20 – 30 pumps, take a deep inhalation
  • Exhale
  • Inhale fully and hold your breath for as long as possible without straining
  • Slowly exhale

Anuloma Viloma

Tuck your index and middle fingers into your palm and use your right thumb on your right nostril and your ring and little fingers on your left nostril.

Inhale through one nostril, retain the breath and then exhale through the other nostril beginning with a ration of 1:4:2, then increase to 4:16:8 and gradually work to 8:32:16.

It is very important not to overstrain when practising. This exercise helps to equalize the flow of breath, balance the prana flow and purify the nadis:

  • Close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through the left nostril.
  • Close both nostrils with the fingers and hold your breath.
  • Breathe out through the right nostril, keeping the left nostril closed with your ring finge* *Breathe in through your right nostril and keep the left nostril closed.
  • Hold your breath, closing both nostrils.
  • Breathe out through your left nostril and keep the right nostril closed with your thumb.

Build up to 10 rounds of this prior to meditation. If you find this too difficult, begin by practising single nostril breathing without the breath retention. If you have never done these exercises before it is better to learn under the guidance of a teacher.

Simple meditation exercise: Listening to the breath

There are many techniques for meditation, but a good and simple one is to simply watch or listen to the breath:

  • Stretch out your legs and return to your meditation position with the legs folded , sitting in your chosen space.
  • Keep your back straight and bring your hands into a mudra.
  • With your eyes closed take a few deep breaths.
  • Allow your breath to come to its natural rhythm, as fast or slow as you like and as deep and shallow as feels comfortable.
  • Use the sound of your natural breath as your focus. You are not trying to control the breath.
  • Observe how when you inhale the sound is like a “so “and as you exhale the sound is like a “hum”
  • Do not say out loud; just listen to your breath as it makes these sounds.
  • Every time your mind begins to wander come back to this sound
  • Your mind will begin to become calm, begin to slow and appear more peaceful connecting to the sound of your breath.
  • Continue to listen to your breath and every time your mind wanders gently affirm to bring your concentration back to the breath. Try not to judge yourself if and when your mind wanders. Instead just gently come back to listening to the sound of your breath.
  • Sit for you allocated time daily keeping your mind focused on your breath.

The first stage of meditation is focusing and stilling the mind and is preparation for true meditation which is a state of stillness, an experience and state of consciousness.

I wish you all the best on your journey and should you need any help or want to start a group up with like-minded people, do contact me. Info@tarasoulyoga.com

Tara is running a yoga retreat in Goa Feb 2012, which will include Pranayama and meditation techniques. For more information please see www.tarasoulyoga.com/index.php/retreats.

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A warm, open minded and compassionate yoga teacher who teaches from the heart and believes yoga to be a constant discipline for healing, growth and transformation which continues to evolve throughout our lives. I teach Ashtanga, vinjasa flow, hatha and pregnancy yoga; meditation and pranayama.

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