December 10, 2011

The Basic Practice of Meditation.

Listening to Your Soul.

Chapter 7: Watch Your Mind Think–The Key to Being Guided All the Time
Rod Stryker’s Four Desire (4D) Virtual Book Club

“For all that meditation provides, it merely asks of us that we take time to do it, to simply put a few minutes aside to steady our thoughts and learn to see the beauty and wisdom that lies beyond them.” ~ Rod Stryker

In order to engage the rest of the exercises this book offers, we need to pause here and begin to develop a personal relationship with our mind.

But how can we calm down our minds? In yoga, we use meditation for this purpose. We assume that meditation requires a lot from us to do (and don’t get me wrong, it requires all of us to do), but what it doesn’t require is stuff. You don’t need a cushion, a bell, or even blankets. They help, but don’t let not having “stuff” stop you from starting a meditation practice. What we do need, however, is much harder to come by: time.

Lets stop here, pause, and think about this. We need a few minutes a day (start with 3-5 minutes) in our meditation practice to steady our thoughts. Why do we need this time? Pratyahara. Essentially we start by practicing the 5th limb of Patanjali Yoga.  Pratyahara is the withdrawal or mastery of the senses. Rod says “Unless we learn how to see beyond what our eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin are telling us, we can never experience the totality of who we are or the world of which we are a part.”

Our calendars are filled with activities. We have school, work, appointments, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, trips, trainings…the list goes on. We need to use our senses to perform all of these activities.  Often times, many of these activities are done in the subconscious haze of multi-tasking.  And society praises us for that?

Judith Lasater says that we need to start “uni-tasking” or doing one thing at a time. I have to admit, I am guilty of being a habitual multitasker. In the past, I have looked at people who worked on only one thing at a time and thought, “ what a slow poke.”

However, through my meditation sadhana (practice), I have learned that I need to slow down.  Although my mind would like to be able to do japa and pranayama at the same time, it just does not have the same effect. Meditation gives space mind to focus on one thing at a time. Although it may seem difficult at first, it’s over all effects are worth it. It improves your memory, increases your ability to respond to stress and helps you process negative emotions such as grief anger and fear.

In Chapter 7, Rod describes the meditation on the breath. This practice creates the pathway to mediation. His essential message for us is to take some time for our selves daily. We must sit, observe and start experiencing, rather than doing. We must commit and engage our practice on a daily basis.  With time, patience, and discipline, meditation becomes an experience, a feeling, and ultimately, the state of being itself.

Meditation invites us to hear the voice of dharma, to feel complete, and to access inspiration. Through meditation, we experience contentment (samtosha) but most importantly we learn “that [we] are something more than [our] possessions, more than [our] body, more than [our] thoughts.” Rod Stryker

The practice of meditation is the practice of being present. When we are fully present, we start to experience the second type of fulfillment. This Fulfillment comes from within–it is inherently present; “it is not inaccessible nor is it in distant places [it] appears to be the experience of bliss.” ~ Rod Stryker.

This week’s discussion:
What is your experience with meditation?
What has worked or not worked to quiet your mind and listen to your Soul?
Next week we will talk about Urdvha Mukha Svanasana: Reflections on Upward-Facing Dog Pose.


Learn more about Rod Stryker and ParaYoga at RodStryker.com
Read The Four Desires book review on Elephant Journal.
Read other discussions about The Four Desires
Instructions: How the book club works

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