Yoga Meditation is practiced in different ways. Focus on the breath is on the high priority list of the Yogis. Yogic Meditation Techniques vary from beginner to advanced. Some argue on the fact that yoga meditation differs from Buddhist meditation. The techniques of Buddhist meditation and Yogic meditation are also compared in this article. I have also included examples of 5 great yogis and people who can potentially represent the stages of human consciousness namely Jagrit, Svapna, Sushupti, and Turiya. The Article is presented in simple language, however, high-quality scientific and academic journals are cited. Also, I have introduced some basic techniques in the article.
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Types of Yogic Meditation.
The Yogic Meditation can be classified based on two categories. They are Breath Based Yoga Meditation methods and non-breath-based meditation methods.
Breath based meditation
The Breath and heartbeat are two of the major kriyas in the human body. Breath-based meditation techniques often imply the formula of watch your breath. You should be able to sense the up and downs of breath. The gateway towards activating the kundalini lies in breath-based meditation techniques. Pranayama, one of the limbs of yoga is derived from breath-based yoga meditation techniques.
Non Breath based meditation.
Non-breath-based meditation is essentially the object-based technique of yogic meditation. In non-breath methods, you focus on any external object to raise consciousness. People often use the objects of Sankhya Yoga like Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth for meditation. Any object can be meditated upon unless you feel uneasy. Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Raja Yoga are non-breath-based meditation techniques.
What are the benefits of Yogic Meditation?
Yogic Meditation has many benefits. One of the scientific research says breath-based meditation plays a significant role in preserving the compensatory mechanisms available to sustain physiological function. In simple language, it means breath-based yogic meditation can help us to get rid of hypertension, depression, dementia, etc. It can benefit patients with chronic diseases and mental health disorders. It also helps healthy individuals to optimize their physical and cognitive performance.
Srinivasa Ramanujam was one of the greatest mathematicians of India. He said the world, that he got the knowledge of the equations that he derived was given to him by the goddess of worship. He claimed that he got one of the greatest stuff of mathematics in dreams. Basically, his case is not explored scientifically but considering Indian Psychology, he was probably the expert of the Svapna(dream) stage of human consciousness.
His yogic absorption in the visualized deity led to refining his cognitive capabilities. This has the potential to prove, why the dream stage is kept higher in Indian Psychology than the wakefulness. The main aim of Yogic Meditation, as per the Patanjali Yoga Sutras is to absorb into the object of meditation. You can learn about Indian Psychology from the Mind and Body Section of Scientific Monk.
Another case is of Shri Ramakrishna Paramhamsha. He is the guru of Swami Vivekananda, the propounder of Indian Philosophy to the west. In his later phase of life, he was so deep into his absorption in lord Krishna that he started contemplating himself to be a girl in love with God. He started developing the breasts, the legends say, he started menstruating. His case is an example of the use of the subconscious mind or the Sushupti stage. He proved beyond gender there exists a mind.
The cases of Turiya and Turiyatita stages in Yogic Meditation are Lahari Mahasaya, the grand teacher of Paramhamsha Yogananda, and Khenpo Acho, one of the greatest Buddhist Monk. Legends say, they had controlled all the stages of consciousness and reached the very high stage of Samadhi or Nirvana. Basically, people in these two stages are tough to locate.
Yogic Meditation vs Buddhist meditation
There are basically no many differences in the core concepts of meditation in Buddhism and Yogic Meditation of Hinduism. There are just differences in the use of words and rules. When we unjumble the usage of words, Buddhism is focused on Nirvana and Yogic Meditation is focused on Samadhi. As per the Yogic Meditation, activation of Nirvana Chakra in Sahasrara gives the ability to do Dharana and Dhyana or the deep contemplation to reach Samadhi. Buddhism not necessarily talk about the concepts of Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi of Patanjali but directly focuses on reaching Nirvana. Nirvikalpa Samadhi of Yoga Meditation is the Nirvana of Buddhism.
Yoga meditation for beginners.
The Yogic Meditation for beginners can be tough. In the initial stages, there cannot be any Sahaja or Easy way to do Yoga Meditation. If you are a beginner, you should follow the rules of Yama and Niyama like non-violence, truthfulness, good manner, and empathy for all. After you follow these steps for few months you will be psychologically prepared to experience the consciousness. Here is the simple method of yogic meditation.
- Take any suitable Asana, for beginner Sukhasana (any posture of comfort), is good. See the first image.
- Practice Kumbhaka (inhale and hold your breath or exhale or hold your breath as per your comfort level)
- Start watching your breath, wherever it moves inside try to focus on it, this is breath-based simple yogic meditation.
- If you are unable to focus on breath or sense it within your body, chose any object of meditation like a Diety or Five Elements.
- Try to build up concentration on each aspect of the object.
- Perfection takes a lot of time, keep practicing. Here is music for yoga meditation, you can listen to it to avoid distractions.
What is the ultimate goal of Yoga Meditation?
The ultimate goal of Yogic Meditation is to reach Samadhi or Nirvana. These are the final stages of any form of meditation. In Samadhi, you absorb your own consciousness with the help of breath or non-breath-based techniques. In Nirvana, you unite into the cosmic intelligence to become a Bodhisattva.
“Meditation is not about stopping thoughts, but recognizing that we are more than our thoughts and our feelings.”Arianna Huffington
“A most useful approach to meditation practice is to consider it the most important activity of each day. Schedule it as you would an extremely important appointment, and unfailingly keep your appointment with the infinite”Roy Eugene Davis
“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place”Lord Krishna
“The thing about meditation is you become more and more you.”David Lynch
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Breath-based meditation: A mechanism to restore the physiological and cognitive reserves for optimal human performance by Kirtigandha Salwe Carter and Robert Carter III.
Effect of yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) on airway reactivity in subjects with asthma by V.Singh, A Wisniewski, J. Britton, A Tattersfield.
The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness, by Antonino Raffone and Narayanan Srinivasan.
Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation by Antoine Lutz, Heleen A. Slagter, John D. Dunne, and Richard J. Davidson.
A review of the scientific studies on cyclic meditation by Pailoor Subramanya and Shirley Telles