Meditation and yoga are interrelated and often confused. In this write-up, Dr Sumitra Bentur, explains what sets them apart from each other.
A clear and an enlightened mind is necessary to experience experiencing great beauties of life. Undoubtedly, a calm and composed mind helps surf through the ebbs and tides of life with utmost equanimity.
An equanimous mind improves the power of observation, helps in having a clear vision, a vision not obscured by wavering thoughts.Such a mind is rich, abundant and exalted.
To the uninitiated, yoga is akin to yogic postures. But yoga in the real sense, goes beyond postures. The discipline of yoga is meant to master the mind and not just the body.Patanjali, the father of yoga, whoc ompiled”Yoga Sutra”, a classical guide of verses , defines yoga as,“Yogahachittavrittinirodhadha ,Tada drustuhasvarupeavasthanam.”This means,yoga is a practice to help still the fluctuations of the mind. Only then the practitioner is able to rest in a state of essential true nature.
Many forms of yoga are practices that help one reach a state of clear and stable mind. There is a tendency to consider yogic postures in itself to be yoga and meditation as a separate discipline. The yogic posture practiced in yoga, is one among the eight paths as outlined by Patanjali. Meditation is the seventh.The other paths are equally effective can be practiced individually but they complement each other.
It is also true that most people take to yogasana practice because they are drawn (until they realize the other aspect) to the physical benefits these postures offer. Several studies and scientific researches indicate that yogasanas improves flexibility, our sense of balance, strength and endurance. It also brings down stress and stress-induced negative impacts on the body.
Asana (yogic posture) is defined in the yoga sutra as “Sukhamsthiramasanam”, a posture which is stable and at ease. Sukha means a sense of sweet comfort and sthira means firm and unwavering.
When a posture is held with awareness for an extended period of time one can easily develop strength and steadiness. Such regular practice will gradually strengthen the muscles that are engaged in the process, but without effort. The breath tends to be even, smooth and rhythmic when the effort is minimal.
As one begins to cultivate this inner connection between the body and breath, asana practice can be an extraordinary discipline to bring back to the natural stillness which the ancient yogis so extolled.
Meditation, the seventh path is in continuum with the internal journey where the emphasis is directly on controlling the mind. Meditation helps to explore the truth, it helps to distinguish false impressions from reality and guides one to see things for what they really are.
“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place.”– Bhagavad Gita
The usual nature of the mind is to wander, to be caught up in all sensory inputs.During meditation the mind drifts but one can gently guide the awareness back to the object of meditation. Awareness is the richest part of such a practice. With this training one can strengthen the ability to detach from distractions and abide in the present. As the meditation practice deepens it enables an inner unfolding, where one’s awareness begins to expand from conscious state to super-consciousness and ultimately remain in a state of pure joy and serenity.
There are several meditation techniques taught by different schools of spiritual practice. These could be mindfulness breathing, chanting of the mantra or focusing on an object of meditation, all meant to train the mind to settle into stillness.
The goal of both, yogic posture and meditation is to stabilize the mind and find oneness with the divine. It is inappropriate to separate both of these practices. Asanas form the preliminary level to get started and progress towards meditation. The basic difference lies in the method of the practice. Yogic postures involve movement of the body aligned with a particular breathing pattern. In meditation, one just sits over for an extended period of time mindfully focusing on the object of meditation. When the meditation intensifies it enables one to enter a state of consciousness that expands into a thoughtless awareness.The beauty of regular practice of meditation even if it is for just few minutes daily is, how its effect percolates into every aspect of each day living. It builds a commendable emotional resilience by being open to new perspective on stressful situations, superior patience and tolerance, increased self awareness and focus; it inspires creativity and the self rest in the womb of all knowing.
Diploma in Yoga Therapy
Dr Sumitra offers holistic health advises by integrating ayurveda, therapeutic yoga, diet and lifestyle.Her main area of expertise is mind-body medicine, yoga therapy modules tailored for individuals, stress management, panchakarma and yogic detox therapy.”