June 19, 2014

5 Practical Steps to Experience Shuniya in Meditation. ~ Zita Harkaran Vasilisinova

Photo: Kanzeon Zen Center via Flickr

It’s a beautiful experience when the mind stops giving commands to the body and we can just sit there in awe of the creation of our own breath and of life in general.

We sit in total inner peace.

That’s the state of shuniya or samadhi—a state of higher meditation, the eighth limb of yoga.

As a long time meditator, I know it’s hard to get to this point which is why I put together five practical steps to experience shuniya in meditation.

1. Space

Find a “safe spot” in your house where you will be undisturbed for the length of the meditation.

While meditating, we are in a vulnerable state because we are relaxing our sympathetic nervous system which processes the input from our environment. For example, we might not hear anyone come in until they right at our side, tickling us.

If you live with others, let them know that you are going to meditate and tell them where you’ll be.

From the feng shui perspective it’s best to keep your back to the wall with a door in a side view. Having a window is also a very nice addition to a meditation space. If the view is uninteresting try setting up a small altar with uplifting images, sculptures, plant or crystals.

2. Wear the right clothes

Make sure that your waist is not pressed too tightly—this allows the hips space to open wide. Sometimes bras can restrict the ability to take a deep breath. We want to feel comfortable, free and light—not restricted in anyway.

Wear clothes made of natural fibers.

No spandex pants, no spandex t-shirts. These clothes are great if you are sweating a lot, running and so forth but not for meditation.

Artificial fibers have a lot of static energy in them and will make you feel ungrounded, jumpy and irritated. They are also not recommended for prolonged sitting because they might make you feel cold, which is why you might want to keep a shawl near by.

And one more point. You might consider wearing a bandana around your head. Personally, it helps me tremendously. When I wrap my head, I feel more contained and focused.

Hair functions as an extended antennae and picks up on all sorts funky stuff that you should not worry about when you are meditating.

3. Movement

Seems counterintuitive? A lot of people have sedentary jobs and the idea of sitting again in meditation is not appealing. There is no need to force yourself to sit. Stand up, move, shake, take a few deep breaths in downward dog, go for a walk, jump rope. If you go to the gym, try to meditate after your workout.

Just make sure to move your blood and all your energy.

You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll arrive in a deep meditative state.

4. Keep your focus

Meditation uses many techniques to focus the mind. Do your best to pay attention to the mantra you are chanting, how you are chanting it, pronouncing each word with care and undivided attention.

While practicing breath meditation pay attention to how the breath moves in and out of your body. Notice the space in between the inhale and exhale.

If there is no focal point instructed in the meditation, try to direct the eye gaze behind your closed eyelids to the third eye which is between your brows and slightly up.

5. Use props

Aromatherapy is one of the best tools used by meditators. Try using a scented candle, essential oils or incense. Sandalwood is a great scent to help in centering and grounding. Myrrh, frankincense and others are also options, depending on how you want to feel.

Other good props are cushions to make your behind comfy, a warm shawl in the cold months and maybe a glass of water. Don’t hesitate to make yourself comfortable.

Meditation is not a simple task.

The mind is tricky and will always try to find ways to pull us out of meditation.

Don’t give it the opportunity.

Stay comfortable, stay focused and give your self the opportunity to experience shuniya during meditation.



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Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Travis May

Photo Credit: Big Mind Zen Center via Flickr



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Zita Harkaran Vasilisinova