Our New Meditation Class
On the occasion of our new Thursday Meditation class, I would like to share every now and then some insights and inspirations about meditation to inform and interweave with our practice and experience. Thank you, Camille, for your much appreciated question in our WhatsApp group (“HOW to use the voice as a meditation object?”), setting off this first instalment.
Voice as Object of Meditation?
How to use the voice as an object of meditation? Your voice is supposed to be an object of meditation in each and every yoga class (inhale “sat”, exhale “naam”) and during all meditations which use mantra in any form.
Meditation is a state of minimized explicit mental activity and therefore maximized presence, awareness, or consciousness, that we get into after some time of continued concentration on one object. Our ability to focus our attention can be compared to a spotlight in an otherwise dark room. This focus of attention is called “surat”. We potentially have a freedom of choice about what to concentrate on and what to ignore. However, the power of keeping our attention exclusively on one and the same consciously chosen object for any given length of time is difficult and needs to be trained.
This process can use or involve any or several of the five senses. There is no fundamental technical difference in this effort whether you use your voice as the object of meditation (sense of listening) or your breath, any visual object or even the taste of your food. It always comes back to training the stability of your attention, concentration, surat.
Here is a Practical Road Map:
- Follow the instruction and concentrate on whatever the focus of the meditation is: mantra (voice, sound, audible or mental), breath, body part, posture, mudra, self, soul, visual object; observe what happens as you continue
- Sooner or later, you will be distracted, usually by thoughts or sensations; you find yourself concentrating on something other than the focus of the meditation; your surat shifted without your permission or awareness
- Realise that you are distracted (and, possibly, for how long you have already been distracted and for how long you were unaware that you were distracted)
- Relax the distraction and, without further ado, go immediately back to the focus of the meditation
- Go through this cycle as often as distraction occurs
If we do this, we will experience various states of challenge and frustration, emotional reactions, judgements, temporarily increased mental activity. This is very normal. It is also to be expected that the “success” of our effort fluctuates from day to day and differs at different times of the day. The best times to meditate (or train meditation) are the hours around sunrise and sunset (and better sunrise than sunset). The most difficult time to meditate is the middle of the day; in the dark of night it is much easier. This is because the tendencies of activity of the mind in general are following a circadian rhythm.
Meditate with me
In the course of our Thursday meditation class, we will work with various and changing objects of meditation. Last Thursday, we did Kirtan Kriya, a wonderful example of primarily focussing on the mantra in your voice in three different shapes, loud, whisper and purely mental; with stabilising focusses on our fingertip pressures and the visualisation of the mantra impulse through the head. We will do Kirtan Kriya again soon.
This week, we will use breath awareness as meditation object and pranayama as meditation:
#152 Meditation Class: Nadi Shodana Pranayama
Apart from the same exercise we get for the training of our concentration and surat, we additionally get the beneficial energetic effect of balancing our pranas, life energies, and the cleansing and calming effects this has on our physical, mental and emotional bodies.