​JoJoga Junction > What is meditation?

Meditation by lake

Yoga has been around for thousands of years. The very first concrete example of a yoga pose was discovered during an excavation on a seal that showed a figure in lotus pose. Meditating in this seated posture was the very first Yoga Practice. In honor of Yoga’s humble beginnings, JoJoga Junction is going to devote its first few columns to meditation.

What is Meditation?

Sitting still for hours with an empty mind to reach “nirvana”—NO.

Learning to still the mind by becoming aware of when the mind drifts and then guiding it back to your point of focus—YES.

If you have been practicing yoga, you have already begun to meditate. Each time you bring your awareness inward to your breath during your practice, you are starting to meditate.

If you are want to begin to incorporate meditation into your daily life, keep in mind that most beginning meditators start with 3-5 minutes—you can start with less time if this is more available to you. It can be as simple as taking a few moments to pay attention to 3 breaths!

Meditation is a proven way to increase your resilience to stress. We know we have little control over the stress that can come into our lives, but we have full control over how we respond. Meditation can also reduce irritability as it helps you to recognize irritable thoughts before you share them with others.

A daily meditation practice can help achieve mindfulness. A definition of mindfulness from Dr. Jon Kabit-Zinn:

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

Meditation is not a part of any religion; rather, it is a science. In meditation, you are fully awake and alert, but you mind is not focused on the external world. In childhood and beyond into adulthood, most of us were not taught how to look inward—we were educated to focus more on the world outside of ourselves. As the world seems to be moving faster with less connection, it is ever more important to examine what lies within.

I would be delighted if you would join me on this journey of looking inward, of giving yourself an “inner vacation” from all that surrounds you in daily life. Next week, we will begin to explore a point of focus for our meditation which will arise from the 8 Limbs of Yoga—the Niyamas and Yamas of yoga.

For this week, each day, pick a point of time to focus on 3 breaths—just 3—be fully present to the sound, sensations and the depth of each breath. If you find that 3 is not enough, continue to focus on the breath for 3-5 minutes.

In peace and harmony,