Many of us struggle with the instructions in Part 1: Mysticism. If you have done them for many years they are very easy to understand but if you are at the beginning of the path they are rather difficult to read.
Asana means posture. The best thing a student can do is find a posture that is comfortable enough to learn to sit in. When I first learned to meditatie my teacher didn’t call it meditation, he called it sitting.
And that is exactly what it is. To learn to calm the body by sitting on a cushion your muscles not to rigid and not allowing them to slack as well.
When you enter that in-between state, your body is relaxed and yet alert. It can take months to develop this stage, just be patient.
There are many books written on all kinds of postures. A.Crowley gives suggestions for positions in Liber E, but if you want to keep things simple use the cross legged position or just sit on a chair. There are a few things to keep in mind when you want to sit in the cross legged position or sit on a chair.
- Sitting on a chair with back straight and the feet on the ground. Hands on the knees palms down. Your back has a natural curve so you want to keep it. Or sit cross legged on your cushion, keep the natural curve of your back.
- To avoid a rupture or hernia, it is very important to watch the abdomen around the navel. You have to pull them slightly in. If your abdomen are very weak, I suggest you train them to make them stronger. In the beginning this feels very unpleasant but when you start Pranayama, you really need your strength because when doing Pranayama there will be excessive tension on your abdomen.
- Begin with breathing in through the nose and slowly breathing out through the mouth. Do this for 3 times. Just be aware that you breathe in and out. You can have your eyes open or close. When you want to do it with your eyes open, gaze down on the floor and keep your head in a 45-degree angle. When you feel you get into that in-between stage, breath only in and out through your mouth. This gives the brain less oxygen and helps you to calm it down.
So now you have an idea how to start your practice in sitting. The first stage in learning to meditate.
Pranayama comes from a Sanskrit word and can be translated as “extension of the prāṇa (breath or life force)” or “breath control.” With this technique you have to be very careful. Make sure you are very comfortable in your chosen posture and that your abdomen are strong. You do not need to be ripped or anything but you have to be able to pull your belly slightly in to avoid to much pressure. In the beginning this feels very unpleasant but you need to be aware of it. Practice this first before you continue.
There are many different Pranayama techniques. Find the one that works for you. You have single nostril breath, Four-Fold breath etc. There are many websites or clips on youtube to give you an idea where and how to start.
The Four-Fold breath is a good practice for the beginner, it helps to bring focus, makes you more calm and helps you to ground.
When you feel If any discomfort or lightheadedness, stop immediately and return to normal breathing. Never force or restrict your breath. Don’t compromise the quality of the breath. Check with your doc when you suffer from high blood pressure if you are able to use Pranayama. Just be patience.
This is very wonderful practice to tame our monkey mind. The monkey mind is the mind that jumps up and down and is racing around in circles. Specially after a long stress full day at work, the mind is almost in toddler tantrum state. Dharana means focus on a single point, in other words gaze upon an object and take it.
Do not stare obsessively, just be gentle and let your eyes take in the object, and understand that it will support your practice. The goal is to ease your monkey mind. Of course you can take this technique much further. As it is written in A.Crowley’s work Mysticism but by learning to use it and integrate this into your meditation, it will help you to be come more detached and less judgmental towards your own mind, towards occurrences in your daily life and also towards other people. It will help you to become more neutral and less carried away with events that happen at work, when in traffic or in the supermarket.
When or where does the meditation starts?
The different points I mentioned in my article are all part of the same practice. When you are able to sit comfortable and at ease, not only your body will relax but also your mind will settle. It is the same when you stamp into a puddle, the dirt comes up and the water gets murky, when you wait the dirty sinks to the bottom of the puddle and the water gets clear. When this happens to your body and mind, you will experience the first glimpses of meditation.
That is the reason why you use techniques as Pranayama or Dharana. It helps you to get into that meditative state of mind. To be able to learn those techniques proper, you can isolate these techniques first so you get a better grasp, then you integrate them back into your practice.
What I do is when I feel that my mind starts to wonder, I start with Dharana, I let my eyes gaze upon an object that I have in my temple, when I still feel my mind is a monkey I do some Pranayama. It depends on how my mind behaves and I tune in on what the mind needs at that moment.
Well I hope that is helps you to go and experiment with your first steps in meditation!