Meditation is a huge component of the ancient practice of Ayurveda and works for everyone who is willing to devote some time to the practice. For a beginner a successful meditation is simply one that leaves you feeling tranquil and rested. Find a place in your home where you will not be disturbed by anyone or anything, including your cell phone or television.
- Sit on the floor in crossed leg position on the edge of a medium sized cushion or folded blanket. This posture is called Sukhasana, or “posture of ease”. If you find it difficult to sit on the floor it’s perfectly fine to meditate when sitting in a chair with the soles of your feet on the floor. The key is to keep your back erect, which simultaneously facilitates the flow of breath through the main pathways along the spine and cultivates the prana (life force). Once you begin to move your prana, you will become more limber, and stiffness will gradually disappear.
- Lower your chin slightly to release the back of the neck and bring it into alignment with the rest of the spine.
- Put your hands in Shanti mudra, resting them on your knees, the palms facing towards the ceiling, to receive energy, your index fingers and thumbs touching lightly to form a circle.
- Begin by closing your eyes and being mindful of your intention. Of course, thoughts will continue to come up, but don’t try to force them to disappear. Let them be and they will move on. Another thought will come up; witness it, then let it go. Concentrate on the breath, rather than on the thought, and the thought will dissolve.
- No matter how quiet your environment, you are surrounded by noise of one sort or another, including the noises from your own inner agitation. Don’t try to shut out the sounds. Focus, instead, on your exhalation. In time, you will discover that even the most dissonant noises become harmonious with the sound of your breath.
- Practice for ten to fifteen minutes at a time at the beginning, lengthening it to twenty to thirty minutes when you are ready.
- The optimal time for meditation is during the junctions of the day, when the lunar and solar breaths are in balance (sunrise, sunset, noon and midnight). The goal is to try to meditate at the same time every day, whether it’s in the morning, late afternoon or evening.
Forms of meditation
Sometimes it is difficult to do silent meditation especially at the beginning. If we merely sit silently, practicing self-inquiry, we may simply get lost in our own thoughts and end up more confused and disturbed. Generally one begins a meditation session with a formal practice; employing techniques like mantra, prayer, pranayama or visualization (see meditation for Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Meditation, particulary a passive one, opens up the subconscious mind. If we are not ready to handle it, this can cause complications. People, who are emotionally disturbed, particularly with aggravated Vata, should start with mantra meditation.
Meditation is not intended to be punishment. We aim for fullness of self, not a void. We seek to become aware of the self, without engaging in blame or recriminations. If you develop a pain in some part of your body, do whatever you need to do to relieve the pain. Send your breath into the leg that falls asleep or whatever part of your body is in pain. Move quietly, and then resettle yourself. If your discomfort becomes intolerable, quietly get up, leave the room, and walk around carefully, keeping your awareness on your breath.