Manatita is an esteemed author living in London, UK. He writes spiritual books, flash fiction and esoteric poetry, his favourite genre.
How Are Yoga and Meditation Related?
Yoga is the science that teaches us how to know God. The ancient sage Patanjali approached it in a systematic way for the benefit of seekers and as such outlined 8 steps for this process. Hatha Yoga is the third step and is what most westerners use. It is sometimes called Asanas or postures. The first two steps can be put together as Yama-Niyama. It is said in Yoga, that if we do not follow these initial steps, then it is pointless going any further. This has been emphasized as without them, it is impossible to achieve our aim of inner stillness and abiding joy.
Some of us do the exercises to keep fit and to enhance or encourage good health. This is quite useful, providing that is what one is looking for. The purpose of Yoga is equanimity or inner peace. Or, if you like, a state of oneness, constantly, ceaselessly and irreversibly, with one’s True Self or God.
Yama and Niyama are the pre-requisites for Yoga, and require us to do well and abstain from practises that make us weak or kill our joy. Good is that which takes us closer to our true nature, towards the Light, and bad is that which which causes pain; which takes us towards darkness.
The most practical step of Patanjali’s Yoga is called Dhyana (meditation), and this is what we will focus on today. Without meditation, it is extremely difficult to transform our nature. We are all creatures of habits and have cultivated a good few over the years. Meditation, in a sense, allows us to undo that process, through transformation of our lower nature to a more aspiring life, a life lived in God. This cannot take place without yearning. The child cries for its mother and she comes running. The rich man is driven by ambition, and so he becomes rich. So too, progress in meditation requires an inner cry, an intensity or earnestness for Truth or Light.
This naturally becomes apparent when the seeker or Chela becomes dissatisfied with life, or feels that it has not fulfilled his/her quests for something deeper; more meaningful. Without abhorrence for all things material or a wanting to move away from desire and to seek something higher, them meditation will not be fruitful.
While Asanas help, they are not necessary for meditation. One can skip same and go straight into meditative practices. It is rather like being a bright student at school. Anyway, the person who goes straight into meditation, has generally done some work in a past life, and is reaping the results of his/her karma. These are some of the key steps for meditation as I see them.
6 Tips for Meditation and Yoga Practice
- One need to have an intense faith – an unfaltering belief in 'Something Higher'; an intuitive grasp of the Unseen. The longing for this state or goal must be loving and strong.
- One needs to practice Sadhana’s (spiritual practices): prayer, breathing, reading of devotional works, singing, silence and the like).
- A life of selfless service to humanity and a recognition that we are all sparks of the divine. Without service, progress will be slow and uncertain.
- No expectations and a reliance on Divine Grace. This is crucial.
- Practice, practice, practice. I cannot stress this enough. I have practiced meditation every day for the last 34 years! I feel that I have made some progress, but I also feel that much more work has to be done.
- Be humble. Have Zen mind or beginner’s mind. Be an eternal seeker with a simple childlike heart. Here are some necessary tools for meditation.
Where, When, and How to Meditate
- Make a shrine at home, preferably in a quiet area of your house or room. Get a table, a white or blue cloth and spread it on the table. Add candles on either side, or one in the middle. Burn incense and keep flowers on the shrine. Have a picture of your favourite Teacher or perhaps a coloured circle that you like for meditation. You may also wish to anchor yourself (focus), (concentration), on the flame of the candle.
- In Meditation we want to prepare ourselves in such a way that when we rise in the morning and look at our shrine, we should feel preparedness, readiness, satisfaction and above all gratitude. Having a decent shrine in place will help us to feel this.
- Rise at a time which is peaceful, practical and conducive to meditation. This is usually when Mother Nature is most still. 6. a.m is a good time for us in the West, as we all do daily jobs. Still, be an individual. Know your capacity and receptivity. Meditation will teach you this.
- I tend to keep my eyes open. Meditation is not sleep and is infinitely more dynamic. Still, there is no hard and fast rule as long as you are sitting. Lying down can create mental and physical lethargy, and will sometimes send us to a different place: The sleep world. You may also wish to practise gentle breathing and visualization techniques.
- Let your position be a sitting one if possible or if not, then a comfortable one. Avoid aches and pains which will distract you. Do not ‘push or pull’. Simply be. Eyes and shoulders relaxed, back straight and looking gently at the focal point, practice concentration. You may need to do this for 10 or 15 mins. for a few sessions. Remember, meditation begins only when the mind is silent or calm and still. It is rather like being at the bottom of the sea. On top there may be a multitude of waves, but the sea is all serene and still below.
- Dharana (concentration), another one of Patanjali’s eight limbs, is the ability to focus the attention on a fixed point (candle or Teacher), to the exclusion of everything else. In the beginning, it is the concentration which is more important and needs to be harnessed. True meditation begins when this is achieved.
- Meditation will help us all and indeed we all use it for different reasons. Still, it is useful to know that it is a tool with a goal in mind, that of oneness or unconditional surrender to our True Source or God. Nevertheless, the practice of meditation will be useful in all our day to day activities, and will improve our relationship at work, home and with our fellow humans. God speed!!
The Benefit of Meditation
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 manatita44
manatita44 (author) from london on March 29, 2020:
A key point. So happy you understant, Marlene. Stay safe. Much love.
Marlene Bertrand from USA on March 29, 2020:
I am so glad I read this. I learned something very important. Sit instead of lay down when meditating. Now I know why I always fall asleep when I lay down to meditate. It makes perfect sense now. When I am in my sauna, I stay perfectly alert (because I am sitting), but whenever I would lay down, I would fall asleep. It's good to know the subtleties and nuances of things. Thanks, my friend.
manatita44 (author) from london on November 11, 2017:
You see with the eye of the God-seeker. I am a beginner seeker with zen mind, beginners mind. Sri Chinmoy is the real Guru, the God-intoxicated Soul.
So glad that you came! Much Gratitude.
Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on November 11, 2017:
Thank you so much for this life-changing article my brother Manatita. I think that Sri Chinmoy has left to us a great Guru through you. May our lives be a constant meditation.
manatita44 (author) from london on September 08, 2016:
Glad that you came, Surabhi. I told you before that you should read all my Hubs. Not to show off, but because I know that they will help you. Much Love.
Surabhi Kaura on September 07, 2016:
Graceful. I wonder why I didn't read this before. I do yoga (6 main Aasans) and meditation on a frequent basis now. Baba Ramdev ji's videos are great guides. But this hub is filled with much wisdom. Great tips here. "Know your capacity and receptivity" caught my attention. Yes, it's absolutely right. I value the six points that you have mentioned. So important! Thank you.
manatita44 (author) from london on January 17, 2015:
Thank you, Hester.
I appreciate this very much. I feel that you know and have or will benefit from this. Much peace.
Hester on January 17, 2015:
This indtrouces a pleasingly rational point of view.
manatita44 (author) from london on August 05, 2014:
Ruby, I know that you are a kind Soul. I feel your interest and I will try to serve. I believe that you have children, yes? When the child cries, the mother comes running and brings comfort. The spiritual life is just like that:
"Seek and ye shall find. Knock, and the door will be opened unto you."
Your inner cry, yearning, longing for fulfillment or peace is crucial, and the alter or shrine, helps considerably. If you can join a group of like-minded people, then 'cool.'
Some of my Hubs come with meditation videos. You will find Musical Rapture in one of them or simply google the words and use the video link. You can use music early a.m and again before retiring. remember some of the advice in my Hubs. Sure enough, I have been meditating for 32 years, but I was also blessed with an illumined Soul as my Guru. This is an indispensable advantage. Practice .. Practice ... practice ... infinite love.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 05, 2014:
I am mentally preparing a table with a white linen cloth, a lit candle in the center. I have a yoga pad to sit on and i will begin to meditate. Your instructions are clear and understandable. Thank you so much for sharing. Much peace to you my friend.
manatita44 (author) from london on May 11, 2013:
Agree. Thanks for your input. Much peace.
soumyasrajan from Mumbai India and often in USA on May 11, 2013:
very interesting and nice article Manatita. Yoga, Manana (analysis) and dhyana (meditation) surely does help in life. Intense meditation or right apprehension (nididhyasana) is a main tool to learn.
manatita44 (author) from london on February 17, 2013:
Thank you, vocal coach. I will go to sleep now. So glad that we can serve one another. Pray for me as I do for you. Higher blessings.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on February 17, 2013:
I have recently started yoga. It's amazing how it "opens" both body and mind. I love to meditate and want to thank you for this beautiful hub. Peace and love.
manatita44 (author) from london on February 16, 2013:
Many thanks Jonny,
I need this. I appreciate the peace that you send me. God bless you and your loved ones.
jonnycomelately on February 16, 2013:
manatita, thank you for your Hub here..... warm wishes, and peace be with you.
manatita44 (author) from london on February 05, 2013:
Sri Chinmoy recommended to his students to use a half-open, half-closed approach. Many of his students keep their eyes open. You will find, with practise, that it is easy to fall asleep with closed eyes.
Also, the open eye approach may initially seem difficult but with practice it becomes easier.
Thank you for your kind comments.
Elena from London, UK on February 05, 2013:
Interesting and nice how you took time to explain how to do it.
What stood out for me, was that people usually close their eyes during Yoga Meditation, but you keep your eyes open. I would have thought that would be more effective.
Thanks for sharing.