Within the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes the eight limbs of Raja Yoga. The last four limbs are a gateway to master one’s mind. You might think that controlling one’s mind would be considered priceless. Yet, if we follow Ashtanga (eight limbs) Yoga training today, most people think of the challenging asana sequences within an Ashtanga vinyasa session. People love physical challenges, but if you had a Yoga teacher training that focused only on mastering the mind, it would have difficulty getting popularity.
For centuries, people from different cultures have practiced Yoga meditation to master the human mind. From its esoteric roots among Eastern mystics to its contemporary status among diverse cultures, the practice is now accepted by mainstream society. Still considered a spiritual practice, it is also recognized by secular sources as both as a mode of relaxation and a means of achieving goals.
In order to understand how meditation works, it is necessary to know how the conscious and the subconscious minds work. The conscious mind is the thinking part of the brain that sets goals and determines the steps needed to reach them. Although it is great with ideas, it gets distracted and jumps from one thought to another every few seconds. At any one time, it can only store a few pieces of information and is unable to retain most of them.
The subconscious mind, on the other hand, can remember unlimited bits of information for an entire lifetime and is connected to the conscious mind through the five senses. This is the part of the brain that responds to subliminal suggestions and sees the big picture. It can actually accomplish the goals of the conscious mind, but it must first receive the messages from the conscious brain in order to act on them. Meditation helps to develop the strong neural pathways that allow this to happen.
Since the subconscious is unable to distinguish reality from the imagination, it thinks whatever it visualizes is real. The brain, in other words, is wired to act on the beliefs of the subconscious – whether they are positive or negative. The good news is that the subconscious can be programmed to manifest success by changing the way the mind works, and meditation is the tool that allows it to happen.
The brain vibrates at different frequencies, based on its actions at any given moment. There are five kinds of brain waves:
• Beta – the thinking brain, alert and tense
• Alpha – physical and mentally relaxed, but aware
• Theta – conducive to meditation, memory, intuition; reduced consciousness
• Delta – dreamless sleep, deep meditation, healing; unconsciousness
• Gamma – increased compassion; optimal cognitive function; conscious awareness of reality
The act of meditation not only creates an atmosphere for the brain to work more effectively; when compared in studies to similar activities – such as relaxation or resting – meditation also produces more changes in brain waves. Science has finally proven what monks knew thousands of years ago. Meditation is the key to mastering the mind.
Is the a mental benefit in the physical practice of Yoga asana? Yes, the benefit is in harnessing the flow of mental energy before we undertake the task if training the mind.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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