Achieve calmness with meditation

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Achieve calmness with meditation
By Bharat Thakur, Special to Unwind / GULF NEWS / Published: January 11, 2008, 23:40

All over the world, people are turning to meditation — some seeking answers and the meaning of life while others practise it for its stress-relieving benefits.

With so many different techniques being taught, the question is — what really is meditation?

Let’s start with what we know. It is a scientifically proven fact that meditating regularly has immense health benefits.

In fact, the significant difference in health parameters between those who practise meditation and non-meditators is sufficient for anybody to start a simple practice.

Ask any doctor and he or she will gladly tell you how people who meditate are less prone to heart attacks and other diseases.

For a healthy mind

We must understand that all diseases are rooted in the mind — being psychosomatic in nature.

So, while we devote a lot of time and attention to the body and how we look, we must also spend time relaxing the mind and delving into the more subtle areas of our being.

Research also shows that people who meditate display lower stress levels than those who do not.

So, where does yoga fit into all this? Yoga begins with the physical body and goes deeper within, to the core of the being.

Most of you must be familiar with the different postures of yoga — asanas, the often crazy-looking movements that contort the body.

In fact, there are 8.4 million asanas. They are there just to make the body flexible and strong to master one meditation asana, that in which the practitioner can sit comfortably meditating for a long time.

Similarly, pranayama (breathing) practices train the mind and the body’s energy system for dhyaan (meditation).

Yoga has always been a spiritual science in India. It is only in the last 100 years that modern science and medicine have studied and understood the health benefits of yogic practices.
Therefore, today we see people taking up yoga to reduce high blood pressure or control diabetes.

Deeper understanding

This is good for all, but one must not forget that, ultimately, all yoga practices will direct the person to a calmer state of mind and an infinitely deeper understanding of oneself.

This deep understanding of who you really are is the scope and final goal of meditation.

So begin a yoga practice and slowly delve deeper into life’s eternal question — “Who am I?”

Wishing you all the best in your search.

Meditation asanas

The main purpose of meditation asanas are to allow the practitioner to sit for extended periods of time without moving the body and without experiencing discomfort.

Only when the body has been steadied for some time will the benefits of meditation be felt. Deep meditation requires the spinal column to be straight and very few asanas can satisfy this condition.

Sukhasana

(Easy pose)
Sit with the legs stretched out in front.

Bend the right leg and place the foot under the left thigh.

Bend the other leg and place the foot under the other thigh.

Place the hands on the knees.

Keep the head, neck and back upright, but without straining.

Close the eyes.

Relax the whole body — the arm should be relaxed and not held straight.

Ardh padmasana
(Half-lotus pose)
Sit with the leg stretched out in front of the body.

Bend one leg and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the opposite thigh.

Bend the other leg and place the foot on top of the opposite thigh.

Without straining, try to place the upper heel as near as possible to the abdomen.

Adjust the position so that it is comfortable.

Keep the back, neck and head straight.

Close the eyes and relax the whole body.

Padmasana
(Lotus pose)
Sit with the legs stretched out in front.

Slowly and carefully, bend one leg and place the foot on top of the opposite thigh.

The sole should face upwards and the heel should be close to the pubic bone.

When this feels comfortable, bend the other leg and place its foot on top of the opposite thigh.

Ideally, the knees should touch the ground in the final position.

The head and spine should be straight and shoulders relaxed.

Place hands on the knees.

Close the eyes and relax the whole body.

Vajrasana

(Thunderbolt pose)
Kneel on the floor.

Bring the big toes together and keep the heels separate.

Lower the buttocks onto the inside surface of the feet with the heels touching the sides of the hips.

Place the hands on the knees, palms down.

The back and head should be straight but not tense.

Avoid excessive backward arching of the spine.

Close the eyes and relax the arm and the whole body.

Bharat Thakur is the founder of Bharat Thakur’s Artistic Yoga. For questions on yoga, write to dubai.artisticyoga@gmail.com. For information, log on to http://www.bharatthakur.com

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