Origin & Meaning:
There are many forms to “Yogic Meditation”. Yoga means “union”. The tradition traces back to 1700 BC, its goals are for one to achieve the highest spiritual purification and self-knowledge. Classical yoga can be divided into rules of conduct (yamas and niyamas), physical posture (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and contemplative practices of meditation (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi). There are numerous benefits to doing yoga.
How To Do It:
Here are some types of meditation practiced in Yoga. The most common and universal one is the “third eye meditation”.
Third Eye Meditation – This is done by focusing ones attentions towards the spot in-between the eyebrows. This point between the brows can be called the “the third eye” or “ajna chakra”. The main object in question is the the ajna chakra. If the mind loses attention to this spot, one must redirect his attention back at the third eye. Eventually the silent gaps between thoughts widen, this gives you a state of extreme peace. Often times practitioners physically point their eyes toward the third eye while keeping their eyes closed.
Chakra Meditation — The practitioner focuses his attention on different different energy centres in the body. These energy centres are often call chakras, in total there are 7 main nodes in the human body. Visualization and chanting of a specific mantra for each chakra (lam, vam, ram, yam, ham, om) can energize these centres. This meditation practice usually is done to the heart, third eye and crown chakra.
Gazing Meditation (Trataka) — This practice is completed by focusing on an external object, typically a flame on a candle, an image or a symbol (yantras). It is done with eyes open and closed, this is done to train the minds power of concentration and visualization. When closing your eyes you must focus on the image or object in the minds eye.
Kundalini Meditation — This is an expert level Yogic Art. The primary goal of this practice is to awaken the “kundalini energy” which lies dormant in the base chakra. The awakening of the kundalini will energize psychic centres of the body and will lead to enlightenment. There are many pitfalls novice practitioners can face, so it is recommended that this practice be done with a qualified yogi.
Kriya Yoga — This practice emphasis energization, breathing and meditation exercises taught by Paramahamsa Yogananda. This is well suited for people seeking a devotional aspect to meditation. The spiritual aspects of this yogic art makes it truly original. To learn it, you can apply to receive seal-realization lessons, free of charge.
Sound Meditation (Nada Yoga) — This meditation focuses primarily on sounds. The practice initially starts will an external stimuli in the form of sounds. Soothing sounds like a flute are recommended. This is done to quieten the mind of thoughts and focus primarily on the sounds. The practice then evolves as one hears more internal sounds within the body and mind. The goal of this art is to hear the ultimate sound (para nada), which is a sound without vibrations.
Tantra — Unlike the popular view in the West, most Tantra practices have nothing to do with ritualized sex (this was practiced by a minority of lineages). Tantra is a very rich tradition, with dozens of different contemplative practices. The text Vijnanabhairava Tantra, for instance, lists 108 “meditations”, most of them more advanced (already requiring a certain degree of stillness and mind control). Here are some examples from that text:
- Merge the mind and the senses in the interior space in the spiritual heart.
- When one object is perceived, all other objects become empty. Concentrate on that emptiness.
- Concentrate on the space which occurs between two thoughts.
- Fix attention on the inside of the skull. Close eyes.
- Meditate on the occasion of any great delight.
- Meditate on the feeling of pain.
- Dwell on the reality which exists between pain and pleasure.
- Meditate on the void in one’s body extending in all directions simultaneously.
- Concentrate on a bottomless well or as standing in a very high place.
- Listen to the Anahata (heart chakra) sound.
- Listen to the sound of a musical instrument as it dies away.
- Contemplate on the universe or one’s own body as being filled with bliss.
- Concentrate intensely on the idea that the universe is completely void.
- Contemplate that the same consciousness exists in all bodies.
Pranayama — Breathing regulation. It is not exactly meditation, but an excellent practice to calm the mind and prepare it for meditation. There are several different types of Pranayama, but the simplest and most commonly taught one is the 4-4-4-4. This means breathing in counting up to 4, holding for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds, and holding empty for 4 seconds. Breathe through your nose, and let the abdomen (and not the chest) be the one that moves. Go through a few cycles like this. This regulation of breathing balances the moods and pacifies the body, and can be done anywhere.
Is It For Me? :
With all the yogic types of meditation available, you will likely find one that resonates with you. If you are a musical person Nada Yoga might appeal to you. If you like faith and spirituality, Kriya Yoga might be the best option. Kundalini and Chakra meditations should only be done with a certified yogi. The third eye meditation is one of the simplest and yields high results. Pranayama can be done by anyone and has extensive benefits.