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Friday, December 30, 2016

The advantage of silent meditation in stillness immediately after the yoga asana practice

All the different yoga practices exist to allow the living beings that function under the limited and conditioned mind perception of names and forms to be free from ignorance and all its by-products of egoism, attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison, expectation, and impurities of lust, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, agitation, depression, defensiveness, offensiveness, possessiveness, frustration, irritation, fear, worry, sorrow, grief and restlessness. All these defilement are not separated from suffering.

Whether the beings will be liberated from suffering, or not, it's up to the beings themselves whether they are determined to be free from suffering, and whether they are persistent to purify and quiet the mind to inquire into the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance and all the by-products of ignorance.

No doubt that the body and the mind will feel good after doing some forms of yoga practice (yoga asana, pranayama, chanting, kirtan, japa, concentration, relaxation, and etc) that serve the purpose of influencing the energy field or the states of the mind, mainly to balance and calming the restless mind, and to divert the mind away from worldly ideas, affairs and activities, to allow the mind to have a few moments of concentration and quietness. These precious few moments of the concentration and quietness of the mind is the best opportunity for further meditation in stillness.

The good feelings of the body and mind after doing some forms of yoga practice is impermanent and is not the goal of the yoga practice. People might mistake the concentration of the mind while doing some forms of physical movements and yoga poses as meditation. No doubt that concentration is the key that leads to meditation, but it is not meditation. In meditation, the mind goes beyond the body consciousness of pleasantness and unpleasantness. Time and space and causation doesn't exist in meditation. There is no physical or mental interaction with the world. That is beyond the mind is being in a state of concentration and being aware of the pleasantness or unpleasantness while doing the yoga asana poses.

Yoga asana and pranayama practice serves the purpose of influencing the mind to render the mind calm and quiet and focus to prepare the mind for meditation, but in meditation practice, it doesn't involve any actions to influence the mind, but it is to allow the mind to stand as a witness being aware of the reality and allowing the reality in the present moment to be what it is and allowing it to change as it is, without trying to interfere with the different states of the mind, without trying to change the reality into something different from what it is, without attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving and aversion. There's not even an existence of 'I' to be identifying as "I am meditating."

People are too busy with worldly life affairs and social activities. Many people devote some time to attend 'yoga classes' to do some yoga asana exercises, and their body and mind might feel good after that, but not many people would take the advantage or make use of the calmed and concentrated state of the mind derived from the yoga asana practice to meditate in stillness of thought, action and speech immediately after the yoga asana practice. People would give themselves reasonable excuse that there is something else that is more important that they need to attend or do immediately after the yoga class. Some said that "I like to meditate in motion while doing the yoga exercises or while being in the yoga asana poses, and meditation is not just limited to sitting quietly, and so, I don't need to sit quietly for further meditation."

It is true that meditation is not just about sitting quietly, it's about the ability of being aware of the reality in the present moment, without being disturbed or determined by the reality, and going beyond the impermanent changes of the body and the function of the mind, going beyond all the perceptions of names and forms through the senses, without attachment, identification, craving and aversion, being free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, being free from fear and worry with the mind resting in its nature of unconditional peace, no matter the body is in motion or in stillness. But, what people don't realize is that the main reason why they don't want to sit quietly for meditation is because their restless minds don't enjoy or don't like to sit quietly without any physical movements and mental stimulation and interaction with the world of names and forms. The minds are impatience and will be in agitation or irritation for holding still and be quiet without any stimulation of inputs and outputs even just for a few moments. The minds are not free from aversion towards stillness and the unpleasantness that arise in the body and the mind from restricting the body and mind in stillness.

Even though people can attain some pleasant sensations or good feelings after the yoga practice especially the asana practice as they are getting a momentary relieve from stress or tension or soreness by stretching their body, improving blood circulation, energizing the entire system and relaxing the mind, but their minds might not be free from craving and aversion, which is the main part for the yoga practice, to free the mind from craving and aversion. This is also why there are people have been 'practicing yoga' for quite a long time, gaining all the benefits from doing the yoga asana practice, but they are not free from being disturbed by constant reaction of craving and aversion towards the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses.

The yoga studios or centres might not have the 'time' and 'space' to extend the duration of the yoga class to allow the students to have a meditation session immediately after the yoga class. Some classes don't even have enough time for final relaxation, not to say reserve extra time for meditation.

If the yoga studios or centres understand the importance of meditation, and they don't mind giving the extra time and space for meditation for at least another half an hour, and people could devote their precious time to just sit quietly after the yoga class, there will be a great difference in their mind of silencing the mind without any inputs and outputs. But, it's everyone own choice for what they want to do with their minds and their life. If people are just contented with momentary good feelings from doing some forms of yoga practice, but not interested in further into meditation to allow the mind to be silent, being away from worldly ideas, affairs and activities, that is their freedom.

Some people might have particular 'idea' about meditation, either they see 'meditation' as a way to 'attain' superpower so that they can have all their wishes come true, or they see 'meditation' as something 'evil' that against their religion belief or might pull them away from their religion belief. In that case, don't call it 'meditation', but it's just 'sitting quietly observing the natural breath', without expecting the fruit of the action of 'sitting quietly observing the breath'. One will self-realize what 'meditation' is about if one is free from expectation towards the fruit of the action of 'sitting quietly observing the breath' and allowing the breath to be what it is.

Some people might say that their minds are not quiet or calmed for meditation after the yoga asana practice. If the yoga asana practice doesn't serve the purpose of calming and quieting the mind for meditation, but stimulating the mind not allowing the mind to be quiet and calmed, then that is not really yoga practice, but just a form of worldly physical and mental activity.

Be free.

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My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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