Meditation is a state of being rather than an act; this means that it isn’t possible to be bad at it. There are many different types of meditation that have a myriad of benefits from calming the mind to energizing the practitioner for the day. In this post on an Introduction to Meditation, as one of the eight limbs of the eight limbed path of yoga, is an important aspect of personal practice. When we get still enough and quiet enough, we create space for true union, or samadhi. This is the space through which we can begin to have connection and conversation with Pure Awareness.
Meditation is the seventh limb along the eight limbed path, and will be taught in all online yoga teacher training programs. We typically will move through asana, pranayama, pratyahara, and dhyana first. We can look to the panchamaya kosha system for this order of operations, as well. We move through asana first to calm or pacify the annamaya kosha. Next is the pranayama as we move from the physical sheath and into the energetic sheath of the pranamaya kosha. Following pranayama is pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses, often referred to as an introduction to meditation. This step allows the practitioner to guide their awareness deeper into their experience and therefore achieve a higher level of self study. Here, we are assisting the manomaya kosha to quiet down. There are several ways to practice pratyahara as seen below:
- Come to a seat and close your eyes
- Light a candle and focus on the flame
- Count each breath
- Perform a body scan
Moving from pratyahara, we get into the final three limbs that must be experienced to be learned. These include dharana or concentration, dhyana or meditation, and samadhi or bliss. Concentration is a precursory step to moving into the state of meditation. It is through this deep level of concentration that one is able to drop into the state of meditation. Through an introduction to meditation, we can access the final limb which is true union with everything; coming back to remembering that we cannot be separated from anything. The final three limbs mirror the last two kosha bodies which are vijnanamaya kosha, intellectual body, and anandamaya kosha, or bliss body. Ultimately, meditation aids us in achieving or returning to our enlightened state in which we were born. (Follow the link to learn why yoga is considered a movement meditation.)
Now that we create an understanding of what an introduction to meditation is, let’s move into different types of meditation that practitioners can harness. Asana itself can actually be a type of moving meditation. When we begin to link breath to movement like we see in a vinyasa yoga class, the mind tends to calm and the nervous system follows. There are two major categories of meditation: guided and not guided. A guided meditation entails someone guiding the practitioner through an intentionally thought out meditation. A meditation that is not guided is basically the practitioner sitting in a state of being on their own. Here are a few examples of different types of meditation:
- Vipassana Meditation: Vipassana means to see things as they really are so this is a meditation practitioner where the practitioner aims to retrain the mind to see things as they are rather than through their perception
- Loving Kindness Meditation: this is a a great introduction to meditation practice where the practitioner moves through as many people they can and sends them loving kindness
- Mindfulness Meditation: this is a meditation practice where the practitioner focuses on staying completely present in the moment and taking the seat of the observer to acknowledge all of the things that comes through their awareness
- Mantra Meditation: this is a meditation practice where the practitioner focuses on a specific mantra where they might mentally or verbally repeat it
These are just a few ways that one can step into the state of meditation. These are just a few ways that one can step into the state of meditation. As you can see, an introduction to meditation offers various facets, and there are many different techniques that are out there to support all practitioners no matter where they are on their spiritual journeys. If you are looking to learn more about meditation, you might consider signing up for 200-hour online yoga teacher training. Similarly, if you are interested in deepening your meditation practice, check out the live stream and on-demand yoga and meditation classes that online yoga schools like My Vinyasa Practice have to offer online and via their app!