Yoga For Beginners: What is Meditation?

by Sohan Kaur

Many yoga beginners believe that they must stop all thoughts in order to meditate effectively. Sometimes they hear about the blissful meditations of friends and acquaintances and wonder why theirs isn’t so. The mind releases one thousand thoughts per second, and we are conscious of only a few, sometimes only one. When we sit still and quiet the body and breath, the mind begins to release the thoughts it has stored in the subconscious. These thoughts can overwhelm and control you, or you can let them pass to release them out of the subconscious.

The laundry list is not important, the letter you have to type for your boss can wait, the mortgage will get paid; this is your time. As you notice the distractions, simply return to your point of focus, whether that is a mantra, a candle flame, or your breath. Consistent practice allows you to empty the subconscious on a regular basis so that you can sit for longer periods of time. The time you spend in meditation allows the mind to assist you throughout the day because it is not so preoccupied with being the boss.

Meditation develops the Neutral or Meditative mind, which gives us a clearer perspective on what is happening in any given moment. We are able to perceive reality more clearly in relation to the infinite because we are more connected to our soul. We feel more peaceful, stable, and intuitive. Through meditation, we release fears, habits, and blocks; we develop more awareness.

So how do we go about meditation?

You can choose any type of space for meditation, but a quiet place is best, as you want to be free of distractions. Sit on a blanket, or yoga mat, or use a chair if the floor is not comfortable for you. It is important to be comfortable so that you can sit still. You can also sit on a meditation cushion to help keep your spine straight.

The best time to meditate is a time when you can return consistently to your practice every day. For many people, this is in the morning before things get busy. Yogis say that between the hours of 4 and 7 AM or 4 and 7 PM are best because of the angle of the sun. Try not to eat immediately before a meditation practice.

As you sit, keep your spine straight, and pull a slight neck lock. This is just a slight tuck of the chin to keep your spine straight. You can picture someone pulling a string aligned with your spine from the top of your head, and you’ll have a good sense of the neck lock.

There are hundreds of meditations in Kundalini Yoga. It’s up to you to explore different meditations to find a mantra or mudra that resonates with you. Begin any meditation slowly and consistently before moving on to longer times. It is better to master one meditation than to try hundreds only once. 

In order to change a habit, practice for 40 days. To confirm the habit, practice for 90 days. As you practice a meditation for a long, consistent period of time, don’t be surprised if you have unusual experiences. Sometimes we laugh or cry uncontrollably during a meditation. This is a release — allow it to happen. Allowing the blocks to release will allow you to move on to establishing new habits that promote you in life and allow you to move on to a happier, healthier life.

And above all, meditation is for your enjoyment. Try not to take it, or anything else, too seriously. It is a practice, a gift that you give to yourself. Leave your self-judgement at the door and dive in!

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