Arupa Yoga

Meditation - The overlooked gem of yoga.

While the strengthening, opening and detoxifying aspects of practicing yogasana (yoga postures) make us feel better, the most profound changes occur in our inner world. For most, focus is primarily on a combination of thinking, feeling and, for many, visualizing. The blend, being an individual formula. The dedicated attention to these functions of our minds creates an illusion that they comprise who or what we are. Once that illusion has solidified into belief, we're cut off from our true nature and many other functions naturally available to an open mind.

The benefits of learning to rest in a meditative mind set aren't apparent to those unfamiliar with it, but it makes for a far better functioning mind, even on cognitive levels. Intuition, creativity and insight are elevated. There is a quality of understanding or knowing that isn't available to a mind dependent on recorded memory. It's what makes leaps of scientific understanding, and innovative invention possible. It's not magical or mystical, it just doesn't compute to the limited, and limiting, fixed mind set.

We frequently cling very strongly to our beliefs, regardless of contradictory evidence. When these primary functions first fall silent, it can be quite frightening. It may feel as extreme as if death was tapping one on the shoulder. It's as if the concept of self has its own life and its own survival instincts. Fortunately, our bodies are an integral part of that self concept; and so, it feels perfectly safe to place attention in the body. For some, it takes considerable time and practice to develop the necessary sensitivity to, and caring for, the body, to become fully absorbed in it. For others it can come naturally and quickly. Either way, once attention is integrated into the body, it is automatically drawn out of the ordinary mind set. Over time, this changes from a quick flash, to a prolonged experience , to a normal state of being. The longer and more comfortable the excursions into the body are, the quieter the mind becomes, and the more natural it feels to be in that state.

Meditation is learning to access this perspective without the aid of asana. If someone slams your performance at work or cuts you off in rush hour traffic, you can't just pull over on the berm and start practicing your sun salutations to recompose yourself. We need to have easier access to our feeling of well-being. For the most part, people don't remain in the quietude 24/7, but bounce back and forth between thinking and being; ideally, developing a continuous and stable overview of the process.

Additionally, most will be able to find a deeper and more meaningful experience through seated meditation. The evolutionary process generally progresses from finding peace for a moment, as a benefit for the familiarly conceived self, to feeling like the quiet self that is repeatedly drawn back into the mental chaos, to a sense that both self and Self are only conceptual creations, within a greater field of awareness.

We practice to experience just being. Not being this or that. Not being a certain way. Just being. It's a state we all know, like powerful, but forgotten, memory. We were born a mere breath away from it; and most brush it, occasionally, when in a particular activity or situation. It's just that we've lost touch with it amid the cacophony that swirls and reverberates within our minds, since we've learned to process everything we experience through our cognitive minds. We can be aware of our cognition, but we can't be cognizant of pure awareness. The practice is simply finding comfort and stability in that unadorned presence.

As we reacquaint ourselves, ever more fully, with that natural state of being, we gain a perspective that's more attuned with everything that is - without self centered and judgmental interpretations. Simply put, we are superior, when we exceed our graspable selves; and, life is much more pleasing when viewed as being what it is, rather than, as what it is in relation to us.