Self-knowledge through mind/body awareness
The earliest mentions of meditation can be found in the Hindu Vedas (the oldest parts written c. 1700- 1100 BCE). Arguably the most influential work on Hindu yogic meditation is however a later text: Patanjali’s collection of aphorisms Yoga Sutra (compiled prior to 400 CE). Meditation is the seventh limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga and its Sanskrit term is Dhyana. In Yoga Sutra, Dhyana is a way to achieve the final and eight limb of yoga: Samadhi. Samadhi is an ecstatic and unitive state in which the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation. In other words, it is a way for the meditator to reach a union with and an understanding of the ultimate reality, as well as self-knowledge. Even though the Hindu tradition of meditation is the one most associated with yoga, it is by no means the only tradition. Several religions include some form of meditation as a way to get closer to God or enlightenment, including Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Bahá’í, Christianity, Judaism and Sufism. Though meditation can be found in many religions, it is not intrinsically religious. It can be used simply to relax, replenish your energy or focus the mind.
There are several benefits associated with meditation. Again and again, studies show that practising meditation reduces stress. It also helps us putting our lives in perspective, balancing our temper and deepening our self-knowledge. In other words, meditation is just what you need after a hard day’s work! There are several different forms of meditation. Some use mantras (repeated sounds, words or songs) to focus, others use mental images or specific movements. In others yet, you turn your attention to a specific sense or body part to stay present in the here and now. At Yogateket, we focus on meditation within the Hindu yoga and Buddhist traditions. This includes meditation with mantras, Samadhi/Shamata meditation (focused consciousness) and Metta Bhavana meditation (Loving kindness). The process of meditation develops and balances your mind and body, and is a perfect complement to active yoga.