yoga teacher trainingBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

In Yoga practice, everyone wants to have the most successful meditation session possible, but sometimes it seems that the harder we try, the less relaxing and meaningful the meditation becomes. We want too much from our meditation, and we tend to want it now. In order to reap the benefits of meditation, it must be enjoyed for what it is and not what it can do for you. This shift in focus might sound difficult at first, but it’s actually more natural than achieving peace and tranquility through an iron fist. The following tips may serve to bring the joy back into meditation for those struggling with their practice.

For starters, a Yoga meditation session will become free, light and joyful when it’s taken one moment at a time. Yes, meditating tends to reduce stress levels and blood pressure along with cultivating deeper and higher levels of consciousness, but in the end those are all future destinations. Meditation is a journey happening right now, so take the time to enjoy the step you’re currently on. Focus on the act of meditating itself and give it your utmost consideration, appreciating it for what it is right now, not what benefits it could lead to later on down the road. If you attempt this and it seems impossible, something needs changing. Perhaps a different form of meditation is needed. Individuals don’t score bonus points for meditating using methods that are especially against their nature. The ego loves this type of thing because it takes something as simple as meditation and makes it into some act of super human discipline and restraint. This is compelling in fiction, but ultimately useless in real life. This is not to say that meditation should always be easy, and there will be days when individuals just don’t feel like doing it. If this happens more often than not, something has got to give. There are a variety of different meditation methods to choose from, and the ultimate goal of each one is to simply wake people up and bring them more deeply into life itself. If individuals feel bored and uninspired with their current meditation practice than by all means shake things up and try a different technique. It all leads to the same Source.

If individuals are pretty content with their meditation style but find the joy and passion for the practice ebbing, it may be time to examine what exactly they are expecting from their meditation time. Paulji often mentions that many people become frustrated and irritated with themselves for thinking during their meditation sessions, but that’s actually a pretty natural thing for the mind to do. The mind tends to think, and that’s okay. Ultimately, the goal of most meditation practitioners is to silence the mind and bring it to stillness but another gift meditation brings to the table is intense self reflection; those who meditate know their minds well because they are quiet enough to listen to themselves. So let the mind think if that’s what it really wants to do; there is no shame in this. Meditation is not a super human achievement and getting to know one’s self better is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s hard for the ego to be taken too seriously when it’s being watched; its antics often look silly when examined by the higher consciousness, which enters into the mind during meditation. This opportunity for deep reflection is often lost when striving for perfection in technical aspects of a Yoga meditation practice.

When one is happy with their meditation style but still somehow reluctant to meditate when the time comes perhaps discomfort is to blame. It’s good to develop the ability to meditate no matter what else is going on in the outside world, but it’s also wise to eliminate any outside distractions beforehand whenever possible. For example, if an individual has an important phone call to make, they should consider getting it done before meditating. Removing things to worry about can lead to better and more enjoyable meditation. Also, pay attention to how the physical body feels during meditating and be honest about the feedback the body is giving. If the physical body experiences discomfort, the mind will do whatever possible to avoid the situation that caused it, leading to unconscious resistance to the practice. If there is pain present, correct it. Better to sit in a chair than to put the body through prolonged periods of pain in order to sit in a more ‘enlightened’ position such as Lotus or even Half Lotus.

Finally, there are many people who simply carry a lot of unconscious guilt about taking the time to meditate and this translates to distraction, boredom and a depressed mood during the practice. For those individuals, the only solution is to work through the problem itself. Do they feel like they shouldn’t be spending so much time away from their family and obligations? If so, perhaps the meditation session could be made shorter (5 minutes), but if it’s only 20-30 minutes a day there is no logic or common sense in such a feeling. Observe the guilt and allow it to be and it will eventually pass.

In short, Yogic meditation is a gift that should be imbued with a sense of peace, joy and bliss. If those sensations aren’t present in your current meditation routine, it’s time to bring your bliss back by implementing some of the tips above.

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