A Simple Meditation Technique
January 2, 2019
Nayaswami Maria, founding member, Lightbearer and minister of Ananda Worldwide, gives us everything we need to know about starting a practice of meditation.
Hello everyone, I'm Nayaswami Maria, and this video on meditation will give you everything you need to know to start a practice of meditation.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a wonderful tool for helping to bring our focus in life to a center. It gives us strength within and we're able to perform better in the world—we're able to think with greater clarity, we're able to feel with a greater capacity of the heart, and we're able to be a deeper friend for others, because we're alive within our center, we feel our focus centered within and not without. It makes a great difference in the lives that we live and in the way that we relate to the world.
How to Sit Comfortably in Meditation
I'm going to begin with a brief description of how to sit comfortably in meditation. This is very important. If we sit on a chair—you can sit on the floor if you'd like, but either way you want to sit with a spine straight and tall. In a chair, you're away from the back of the chair a little bit, spread the legs apart a little bit, hands with palms facing upward (either at the juncture of thighs and hips or forward on the thighs), shoulders relaxed, chest lifted up. Bring your chin parallel to the floor so that you don't have any tension at the neck or shoulder. Tuck the chin in just a little bit and keep the back of the head and neck tall.
The gaze of your eyes also is especially important: the direction of our eyes helps to move energy either upward or downwards in the body and spine. So when you sit to practice meditation, you can imagine that you're looking out onto the horizon line where the ocean meets the sky. Your gaze is up but it's relaxed, not tense. And then you simply close the eyes.
How to Meditate Step-by-Step: Relaxing the Body
To begin our practice, we're going to first relax fully in the body so that it's not a distraction. And we'll do this by inhaling through the nose, a short and long breath (“double breath” we call it), squeeze the body, head to toe, and throw the breath out through the mouth, double breath. Again, inhalation, tense through the whole body. Throw the breath out. And once more: double inhalation and exhale.
And we'll do now a measured breathing technique to further relax the body and relax the breath. We will be inhaling to an account of six, holding the breath to an account of six and exhaling through the nose to an account of six. I'll count this for us and you can make an adjustment as you need to. Depending on your breathing capacity, you can shorten the rhythm or lengthen the rhythm.
So inhale with me now through the nose. Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 —hold the breath, focus at the point between the eyebrows 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Inhale through the nose 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Hold the breath, remaining relaxed, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Exhale through the nose 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Once more: inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and relax.
Check your posture: make sure you're comfortable. Spine is tall. Keep the gaze of the eyes inwardly upward without tension. And we'll practice now the technique of Hong Sau. Hong Sau means “I am Spirit.” You can think of it as “I am Peace,” “I am Infinite Joy” —whatever is comfortable for you. It helps us to concentrate the mind and to uplift the state of consciousness through the words themselves and through the vibration of sound.
The Practice of Hong Sau
So we're going to observe the breath. We're breathing only through the nose in this technique. Inhale through the nose, let the breath come in as it will, without controlling it. Observe it, watch it, feel the coolness through the nasal passages. As the breath goes out on its own, feel the warmth of the exhalation. Whether the breath is short or long, it doesn't matter: be the observer. Watch the breath.
You're not holding the breath when the breath comes in. You're not holding the breath out when it goes out. If it does that naturally, let it be; but, again, no control.
Now we introduce the component of the mantra “Hong Sau.” Feel as though you're hearing the breath make that sound “Hong” for the entire duration of the incoming breath, be it short or long. Follow it in. And when the breath goes out of its own through the nose, follow it (mentally only) with the sound “Sau” for its entire duration, as though the breath itself is making that sound within you.
Keep watching the breath in this manner. If it's helpful, you can draw the index finger toward the palm of the open hand during the incoming breath, and away from the palm during the outgoing breath. In this way, if you lose your place you'll know where to resume your practice again.
Let's practice this for a few moments together.
Now let go of the technique itself, the watching of the breath, the mental repetition of the mantra. Let these go for a moment and bring your attention to the point between the eyebrows, the gaze upward. And gaze into that center (that point) inwardly. If you see a light there, concentrate on the light, or imagine the image of light of the spiritual eye at that center and gaze into that light with relaxation and with focus. Feel yourself being in that light and in the vibration that is that light.
Releasing the Practice, Feeling the Calmness
Now from this point of awareness become again aware of the body. Feel yourself and your breath in the body, and become aware of the environment that surrounds you. Feel the peace that you feel extending into the environment around you. Gently tense the body as you breathe in with a very light squeezing of the body to help you ground in the body and exhale and relax.
And when you're ready, open your eyes. Behold, with a feeling of deep calmness, the world around you.
Meditating on Your Own
When you are meditating on your own with this practice, make sure to go through the relaxation exercises, assume a comfortable posture, practice the technique. And when you're done with the technique proper (observing the breath, practicing with “Hong Sau” as you watch the breath), make sure you leave some time afterwards as we did, to calmly focus here at the point between the eyebrows, and feel the sense of calm and peace of light at that center. This is when real meditation occurs. The technique is simply to bring us to that place of inner calm, inner receptivity.
If you can practice five minutes a day, twice a day, if you can practice 10 minutes, 20 minutes—do whatever you're able to do. Whatever you feel inspired to do, you will find that it's helpful to be regular in your habit. Although whenever you feel to meditate, you should meditate. But if you can meditate even just a few moments, practice five or 10 minutes in the morning and in the evening before you go to bed. This regularity will help you to develop a regular practice as well.
If you are interested to learn more about meditation, you can look at our website for further hints in meditation and further guidelines there.
And just one more point: if you can create a place where you meditate, you will also find that very helpful. Of course anywhere is fine. But having regularity and cultivating a vibration in a particular place, you'll find that to be very helpful.
So I invite you to look at our website to find out more. And I wish you the greatest success in your own practice. I know that through it, you will feel a great peace, a great sense of inner harmony. And this will bubble over into your life and into the world that surrounds you.
Thank you so much for watching.