Simple Steps for Meditation & Pranayam
I have before spoken about spirituality, what it means to me and the means I use to achieve my spiritual plane. I recently also did some research on the benefits of meditation and the methods of meditating, in order to try to achieve better mental and spiritual health. When I started to read about meditation I found that it can do a lot of for my physical health by reducing stress and improving my interpersonal relationships. There are so many benefits of mediation (including increased creativity, concentration and peace of mind) that I had to try it myself.
Now to begin with, I found meditation very difficult because every time I tried to concentrate on anything (or nothing) in particular, my mind would start to wander: do I need to do a load of laundry today, what should I cook for dinner today, which outfit will I wear for such and such party etc., basically trivial, unimportant stuff.
Then I came across a write up about meditation techniques and I found the breath watching meditation and the mantra repetition meditation to be very effective to center my mind and make it empty itself of thought.
Finding the Time
It was important for me to find a quite time of day (I found early in the morning before anyone else was up is best) to meditate. Then I affix my eyes on a pleasing sight: a beautiful leafy tree, a beautiful vase, anything while sitting cross legged on a floor mat. Then I start to breathe deeply and evenly (good breathing techniques have the added benefit of carrying more oxygen to the organs of our body thereby increasing their efficient working).
How to Meditate
I concentrate wholly on the breathing: in and out, in and out, thinking about absolutely nothing. Slowly as my concentration increases, my eyes start to shut and then I start to repeat any simple mantra very softly and concentrate on that. I do this for just fifteen minutes, sometimes ten. If I cannot fit this into my mornings, I try to do it at some other time, but I do feel so relaxed and full of positive energy with just 10 to 15 minutes of meditation that I try to find time for it no matter what.
Perhaps later I will try some more advanced techniques, but right now this simple and effective method really seems to be working for me!
What is Pranayam
If Pilates is a recent fitness buzzword in the West,
Pranayam is one in India. Since Pranayam has die hard followers who
swear by its health giving and fitness properties, obviously I did not
want to miss the boat and wanted to find out more. For those that are
not at all familiar with the term Pranayam, it is, simply put, the
methodology of breathing, or the breathing component of yoga.
What does Pranayam do for you?
Pranayam is also thought to increase immunity and research has shown that it can alleviate the symptoms of asthma.Pranayam is supposed to relieve the symptoms of many problems such as Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, Bronchitis, insomnia, thyroid problems, arthritis, flatulence, constipation and acidity. Since Pranayam is of yogic origin, it obviously is related to meditation which is shown to be helpful in centering and focusing the mind, channeling energy, and reducing depression. Supposedly your memory also improves because you have trained your mind to focus better.
Why Should I learn to Breathe?
So why do we have to learn to breath; we’ve been doing it all our lives, right? Well fact is, we go thru life, hardly using 30% of our lung capacity and in the process the optimum amount of oxygen does not reach the heart, lungs, brain cells, blood, muscles and bowels, which is why these organs do not perform to capacity with the result that we are not as healthy as we all can, very easily be! Try doing this: (I have and I can tell you it feels good, health benefits that will accrue, I am yet to experience)
How to do Prajayam
An empty stomach and after evacuation of the bowel is best time to perform Pranayam. Sit in a comfortable pose preferably in Padmasana (lotus pose). You can even sit on a chair is padmasana is difficult; only make sure your posture is erect and straight. Close your eyes and concentrate on breathing in: deep, slow and steady. Exhaling should be quick and forceful. There are a lot of different and very specific techniques for Pranayam but shortly it consists of these 5 Steps:
1. Kapal Bharati
2. Anulom Vilom
My friend Cash who is a regular performer of Pranayam tells me that some minutes of this gives her a great energy boost and that if you do it in the morning at the start of your day you will be active and brimming with energy the whole day. Give it a try and see if it can work for you as well.