There are methods that help your body unwind before a meditation session. A bath, shower, massage, and asana practice have one thing in common - the muscles relax as a result. When your muscles are relaxed, it is much easier to meditate.
In a typical Hatha Yoga class, it is common to practice meditation at the end of class. Some teachers choose to guide students through a meditation, at the beginning, and at the end of class. In Kundalini classes, students perform flowing movements, between asanas, but do not usually hold a static posture.
Regardless of the method practiced, students who practice meditation with their muscles relaxed, notice a marked difference in their meditation sessions. Tense muscles create a tense mind, which makes the meditative experience difficult at best.
The sensations of sight, smell, and sound also play a role in your meditation practice. Each of us is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, respond to your senses naturally, without worry or conflict.
Sight: Should Your Eyes be Closed or Open?
Some people have no problem with meditating and keeping their eyes open. We call this technique “steady gaze" meditation in English, but it is also called Tratak, Trataka, or Drishti. Regardless of the term used, or the style of Yoga you practice, the gaze is soft, but focused on a particular point.
Steady gaze meditation is said to improve vision, and it definitely is rewarding for its ability to focus the mind. It seems that someone, who can successfully practice steady gaze meditation, will not encounter difficulties with any other methods. Teachers resist labeling techniques, but steady gaze meditation is an advanced meditation technique.
Smell: Candles and Incense
Some meditation practitioners use candles or incense during their practice, while others completely dislike the sensation. If you use scents, they should be light and should not cause a distraction. Just like any other sensation, smells can be overwhelming.
If a group is using candles for a steady gaze meditation, it would be advisable to use unscented candles. It is guaranteed that, at least, one class member will be sensitive to the odor of scented candles.
Sound: Music and Guided Meditation CDs
For some people, everything must be quiet. They demand complete silence. They unplug the phone, put their pets away, and practice meditation in complete silence. There is nothing wrong with this, but the world is full of sound.
Traffic, crickets, birds, children, or family members waking up, are not the end of the world. Music and guided meditation CDs, played lightly, tend to melt into the background and drown distracting sounds at the same time.
However, each of us is different; you may want to experiment to know if CDs work for you or against you. There is no right or wrong, but being frustrated over the sounds of life is an internal conflict, which can lead to higher levels of stress, illness, or worse.
Part of the reason for a meditation practice is to develop states of tranquility and inner peace. The last thing you want to do is turn meditation into an internal conflict - or a conflict with anything.
© Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, has written many books on the subject of Yoga. He is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. http://www.aurawellnesscenter.com He has been a certified Master Yoga Teacher since 1995. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/member-offer.html