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What is it about?
Meditation is about seeking inner stillness through rigorous discipline of the mind and breath.
Meditation is not a one-stop-shop, instead, it is a meticulous process and journey towards complete absorption in the object of our focus and finally, self-realisation.
Firstly, we must withdraw the mind in order to create space and the right environment for rest, peace and quiet.
Secondly, we must focus our concentration on an object. At this stage we are drifting away from external disturbances.
After this, the withdrawal and concentration leads to inner focus, self-perception, and self-knowledge. Here we can gain insight into the different fluctuations of the mind. This part of the process is often overlooked, and the meditator will only focus on the concentration part. However, self-knowledge and self-acceptance are essential for the acquisition of a truly still and quiet mind.
Meditation can be described as a deep dive into ourselves and a discovery of the different layers of our being and existence, and this sacred self-realisation is the true goal.
In the yogic tradition, the eight limbs of yoga and the Koshas are the maps provided to help us navigate the path of meditation.
Hatha Yoga and Meditation
Whilst meditation is often viewed under contemporary lenses as a self-standing practice, in reality it is enmeshed as an integral part of the practice of Hatha yoga. Without yoga, meditation cannot be obtained and without it, yoga is not experienced.
To help us find our way and navigate towards the deeper dimension of meditation the philosopher Pantajali, gifted us a systematic map called the Yoga Sutras.
In the Sutras, we find the eight limbs of yoga- a toolkit with advice, instruments, techniques, knowledge, and practices allowing the yoga practitioner to cleanse, prepare, relax, learn, study and self-observe in order to find a healthier, happier life.
These eight limbs are, the yamas (external ethics) and niyamas (internal ethics). These are followed by preparing the body with asana (physical practice) and pranayama (control of the breath) which finally takes the students to the more subtle part of the yoga practice and the different layers of meditation by using pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and, perhaps will lead us to samadhi (oneness or bliss).
Meditation is not an easy state to achieve. Like any other practice in which one wishes to become proficient, daily practice is necessary to allow growth and changes. It is a journey that we must take with dedication and patience, a lifetime engagement. You will learn to observe changes within and beyond yourself and to be aware of their implications for yourself and those around you. The moments of clarity and stillness that meditation can provide are invaluable in our lives both on and off the yoga mat.
In this quote Bhante Gunaratana says it all “The more hours you spend in meditation, the greater your ability to calmly observe every impulse and intention, thought and emotion, just as it arises in the mind”.
Why is it important?
The benefits of meditation are said to include:
- Decreasing stress and anxiety.
- Helping boost focus and concentration.
- Improving working memory.
- Helping sleep disorders.
- Lessening emotional reactivity and increasing cognitive flexibility.
- Developing empathy, compassion and self confidence.
Laurent’s mindful yoga and Hatha yoga classes give meditation a central role as he recognises its extreme importance in building an effective and rewarding and fulfilling yoga practice.
Although rooted in the yogic tradition, Laurent’s meditation teachings are a contemporary blend of a variety of different styles, all selected for their suitability for a hectic modern life. His long experience with meditation allows him to tailor his offerings in line with his students’ and clients’ needs and requests.