‘Most of the trouble of the world comes because people have not learnt just to sit quietly’
- The French philosopher Pascal
Meditation practice is an essential part of yoga practice. And yet, yogis are often accused of just preparing to practice meditation without actually doing it! We tend to be very good at practicing asana and pranayama but quite often skip meditation altogether. When we actually do practice, it tends to be for a short time either at the beginning or end of the session.
Classical yoga is the ‘practice of settling the mind’ and we achieve this by following the whole of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Dhyana is the 7th limbs of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, and it’s often translated as meditation, reflection and profound contemplation. The root of the word ‘meditation’ is similar to medical or medicate and the word implies a sense of ‘attending to’ or ‘paying attention’.
In 2014 I took an 8 month BWY meditation module with Kay Baxter, it was refreshing and enlightening to focus purely on the practice of mediation. Kay is one of the senior British Wheel of Yoga teachers and specialises in meditation. We met once every month to practice meditation all day, we also did little bit of asana, singing, listening to music, breathing and relaxation techniques but the main focus was on meditation.
Don’t get me wrong, especially at the beginning, it was really challenging to simply sit and feel. It was fascinating to see how easily I got distracted and lost in my mind. Having Kay’s expert and gentle guidance was invaluable. Kay would often remind us to ‘let go of doing, achieving or competing and observe and feel’. She also always allowed time to discuss and share our experience within the group, and it was really interesting to hear other people’s views. From regularly practicing meditation, I learnt so much about myself. As Kay wisely said:
‘In this deeper, stiller place you can discover many things. You will uncover your own truths. Truths that are universal, but that you experience and appreciate in your own individual way according to your life and understanding. An opening is created, a space where the deep intelligence may rise up and insight descend such that we can begin to know. Knowledge that is not information gleaned from books, but that carries with it a deep feeling connection, such that there may be a sense of coming into alignment with something that is clear and true’.
I strongly believe that we would all benefit from doing regular practice of meditation. It allows valuable time and space to reflect on our actions, thoughts and feelings, and be more conscious and attentive. As Swami Rama says:
‘We are taught how to move and behave in the external world, but we are never taught how to be still and examine what is within ourselves. At the same time, learning to be still and calm should not be made a ceremony or a part of any religion: It is a universal requirement of the human body’
Meditation practice has been around for centuries and with some guidance, it is accessible and available for everyone.
If you are interested in starting meditation, come along to Kay Baxter’s Wednesday morning meditation from 10 – 11am at the Bristol Yoga Space studio in central Bristol. Kay’s class is structured in a way that it is accessible and enjoyable for everyone including beginners. Don’t worry if you cannot sit comfortably on the floor. We have chairs and props to make sitting more accessible.
I’m really excited to welcome her in the studio! It’s fantastic to be able to learn meditation weekly. I’m certainly going to be there :)
Kay will also be running series of Meditation workshops from May 2017.