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Learn to Meditate

Guided Practice

Experience this meditation that is the higher yoga method of training, guided by His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda. This particular 12 step meditation is based on the first aspect of mindful breathing felt by awareness of external and internal space. To read more about the three aspects of mindful breathing as per Patanjali Yogasutra see the “Learn More” tab.

The 12 steps of this practice are outlined below with a time counter. Add the steps sequentially, as per your capacity and time availability. For example, practicing the first two steps for a month is a valid approach. Add subsequent steps only when you are ready, one at a time, and keep repeating until achieving distraction-free fluency. Once you graduate from the beginner level try the entire hour and let magic happen. The whole hour can be repeated daily to experience how mindfulness grips you and meditation happens.

12-step meditation – may skip or repeat steps:

00:00 – Ease into steady posture and centering
05:00 – Neuro-muscular relaxation and let go
14:00 – Breathing to remove emotional disturbance
18:30 – Feel breath on hands and then attenuate breath
21:30 – Watch breath in nostrils and repose in the midpoint of eyebrows
25:00 – Feel occiput between medulla and posterior fontanel
30:00 – Feel bregma and top of the head
34:00 – Feel movement sensation in the sternum
38:30 – Feel centre of the heart space
42:30 – Inhale and radiate from the heart, exhale and withdraw to heart
50:00 – Attenuate breath while in the heart and repose
55:30 – Back to the midpoint of eyebrows, feel breath and open eyes
60:00 – Retain composure

Preparing A Space

Find a place in your home that is peaceful and free from disturbance where you can regularly sit in meditation. If possible, face East (otherwise North is also fine). You can sit on the floor or on a stiff chair. Eventually you may wish to establish a home altar with meaningful and sacred items, such as photographs of spiritual teachers or inspiring figures, candles, flowers, etc.

Correct Posture

Sit comfortably

Sit on the floor on a cushion or blanket if you are able to do so. If  you are using both a cushion and a blanket, then you can tuck the cushion under the blanket.

Relax & align

Relax the body and align the torso, neck and head in a straight alignment, while maintaining the natural curvature of the spine. Let go of all tension and fully relax your entire body, but be mindful to also keep your torso straight without slouching.

Avoid tilting head

The head should be held straight and relaxed (not tilted either up or down).

Ease discomfort

If sitting on the floor causes discomfort to the extent that you are not able to meditate, then you can sit on a stiff backed chair. When using a chair, be sure to not lean your back against the back of the chair. Sit upright with torso straight and aligned with head.

Tips for those starting out

  • Feel welcome to simply practice the first few steps of the guided practice to start. For example, practicing the first two steps for a month is a valid approach. The recommendation is to add the next step only when ready and then keep repeating as required. Practice this for a few days and then move on to the full guided practice.
  • Establish meditation as part of your daily routine – even if you start with 10 minutes per day. Pick a time of day to meditate and try to stick to that routine for at least a week.
  • Watch the video below about preparing for meditation with yogasutra aphorisms.

Background of this Practice

Stepwise practice of breathing and its awareness with respect to space, time, and count can allow a mindfulness exercise to mature into a steady meditation practice. Such a breathing practice yields a control of subtle movement and subsequent pause of the vital energy, better known as pranayama by the Yogasutra literature. When this mindful breath of prāṇāyāma is mastered, mind regains the ability to be one-pointed and meditation takes hold. Such a spontaneous oncoming of a meditation practice is said to be neutral as in quintessential yoga free from ideology and beliefs. This approach requires no preconditions and is very suitable for beginners but is amenable for regular practitioners alike.

The teachings and the practice are based on Patanjali Yogasutra teaching of Chapter 2, sutra 50. There are three considerations, based on space, time and number. Practice based on time and number are introduced after the breath is observed properly, repeatedly with respect to space. Once each practice consideration – based on breath felt in space, measured in time, and counted in increasing numbers – is well practiced, then all three considerations are combined. When this combined practice takes hold, mindfulness is said to directly mature into an effortless meditation practice that is free from distraction. Moreover pranayama breathing technique is learnt correctly.

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