What do I need to know about yoga and meditation?
Even the physical practice of yoga is not just a physical practice; it’s an awareness practice. In yoga, we take our awareness from our thoughts to the breath and the sensations in our bodies.
Yoga prepares us for meditation, and can, itself, be a moving meditation. Some practitioners release energetic blocks during yoga which is freeing and often associated with deep-level healing.
In yoga, we become aware of the physical habits and misalignments that create or contribute to our therapeutic issues. When we come into optimal alignment, these issues tend to resolve more quickly.
Similarly, early on in a regular meditation practice, we become aware of our thoughts and we begin to experience our ordinary, small self within a more expansive awareness. The process of meditating every day – of resting in more expanded awareness – shifts our perspective, transmutes our emotions and transforms us.
As we meditate, grief or other feelings may surface, giving us the opportunity to free ourselves of emotional burdens and become more robust psychologically. A great modern-day sage of Tantra called meditation the ‘maha’ (great) therapy.
In my opinion, a holistic approach that includes Western medicine and psychotherapy makes sense. I’m especially interested in the work of neuroscientist and psychologist Richard Davidson, whose research shows that we can, through meditation and contemplative practice, cultivate habits of mind that increase our well-being.
Why so much focus on a daily practice?
Meditation and yoga yield the most benefits when practiced daily. When we commit to a daily practice, we often start to notice the benefits right away.