The following meditation techniques draw concepts from ancient Yoga Sutras introduced by Patanjali. The 3 verses below mention the benefits of practicing pranayama. These are ancient breathing exercises.
Breath becomes stable, rhythmic and natural.
After exhalation, during the stillness before inhalation,
Find a comfortable seated position that does not stress the joints. This will allow the body to remain stable without pain and discomfort, a major distraction in meditation.
Spend at least 5 minutes doing relaxing breathing techniques such as humming or Aums. These breathing techniques naturally lengthen the exhalations and have a soothing affect on the nervous system. This will help to maintain stable rhythmic breathing throughout the meditation.
1. Proper seated posture is important in meditation, incorrect posture suppresses the lungs and blocks vital energy flow. Use a cushion or support when sitting.
2. Over time ,while sitting in meditation, posture often worsens due to the muscles fatiguing. If the muscles are inflexible the body will act against itself while sitting. In attempting to maintain a good seated posture muscles tire causing a curve in the shoulders and in the lower back. Therefore learn good posture and do stretches that help reduce the forces from muscles acting against the body in seated meditation.
3. The element of water can cease flowing in areas that are compressed. This will result in numbness and needle like pain. Manipulate the chosen seated posture so that the element of water flow freely.
4. When meditating allow air to flow in and out of the body with ease during meditation. The mind relaxes when the breath is very light and unobstructed. Any kind of conflict in the breathing will be reflected in the mind. Learn to breathe calmly and smoothly.
5. Irregular breathing causes the mind to wander and focus to be lost. Therefore practice breathing techniques that encourage rhythmic breath and have a calming effect on the nerves.
6. Try to open the nostrils and sinuses with the mind. Hidden conflict often occurs causing the valves to restrict incoming air. The mind has the ability to influence opening in the nasal passages, hidden mental disturbance may be causing them to tense and restrict. Bring attention to this periodically and remove the conflict.
7. Pass across from inhalation to exhalation without strain. Trying to inhale too deeply is a common mistake that strains the nerves and causes pressure and force in the mind. 8. Allow the air to exit the lungs gracefully. The natural elasticity of the lungs will force the air out during the initial stages of exhalation. Then a light force is added from the diaphragm during the final third of the exhalation.
9. Allowing a little air to remain in the lungs after exhalation requires less effort and as a result is calmer on the mind. The mind begins to panic if no oxygen is present. Relaxing after exhalation leads to a calm nervous system.
10. When the diaphragm changes direction after the exhalation there is a lot of change within. The order of flow is changing during this time. Make the transition smooth so that it does not disturb the mind.
11. "In deep meditation the breathing should be so passive that a small feather could be held under the nose and be unmoved by the air".
The Element of Air and Emptying the Mind
1. The element of air can be used to remove thought. When thought is removed the practitioner dwells within a state of true self.
2. During inhalation visualize the air passing through the mind. This instantly empties the mind and creates a feeling of hollowness within the skull, the clouds of thought vanish. Use of this element (air) in visualization, especially during the inhalations.
3. The air is one of the methods of breaking down thought and remaining in a state of know true self. When knowledge of true self are gained attachments fall away the practitioner even looses fear of death. When the knowledge is not reinforced it is lost and attachments return.
4. During meditation the breath is quite often effected by sensations and experiences from rising and changing mind patterns. The breathing becomes irregular and effects the mind. This is a spiral effect of distractions. Be attentive and have a spiritual fire burning from within holding focus steady.
1. Yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) can be helpful in meditation but they can also be a obstacle. Stability in breath results from the practice of proper breathing exercises. Natural wholesome breaths occur after practice if breathing exercises are performed correctly and for an sufficient length of time.
2. Pranayama teaches the practitioner the art of concentration. When concentration is maintained it becomes meditation. These skills are necessary because when a state of yoga is attained concentration allows the practitioner to remain in this state of awareness.
3. In many of the breathing techniques the air is restricted to lengthen the breath. This can cause an individual to subconsciously restrict the air during meditation. Internal conflict will be present as a result of this. Relax all of the nerves during meditation and breath without obstruction.
4. Yoga breathing techniques have always played an important role in the spiritual arts. They have quite often been done with visualization to balance the energy body.
5. After training the breath for long periods of time a smooth and harmonious breath also manifests in our meditation practice. It is a pleasant benefit or side effect from Pranayama.
Refer to Yoga Pranayama for more depth in Pranayama.
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