Nov 7, 2015
Location : Cebu City, Philippines
Since I discovered Vipassana, I have become a regular meditator and have seen my progress with the passing years. Meditation has always been a private practice although every now and then, I get to share it with friends. This time however, Pascale Wettstein, a seasoned yoga teacher currently conducting a 200-hour teacher training program in Cebu, asked me to conduct a meditation session to the current batch of soon-to-be yoga teachers.
Question now is, how do I put my practice into a teaching format? Here's my attempt to do just that.
What is Meditation?
There are many established answers to this, but I'll keep it simple within my limited experience. Meditation is a technique of calming and creating stillness in the mind. That's it. It's just a technique. It's not about God, religion or any kind of rite or ritual. How do we create that stillness of the mind? First, we keep the body still. Then we calm the mind. However, it's not as simple as it sounds. Calming the mind is like asking a 2 year-old to remain seated on a chair for an hour. What you do once the mind is still, is up to you. You can meditate for just 10 minutes, or spend your life inside a cave and deepen your meditation.
Objectives of Meditation
You always start your meditation with an intention. What do you want to achieve in this session? In a meditative state, the mind is susceptible to suggestion. Is it to simply calm the mind and body? It can be that simple. You can attempt to stop smoking through meditation. You can heal the body through meditation. You can attempt enlightenment. In some advanced type of meditation like Vipassana, you can perform a deep surgery of the mind to exorcise all the negativities at the root level.
Benefits of Meditation
Of course, you meditate with your own intentions - that's a given. But there are other hidden benefits to meditation.
- healing - first, the body activates its parasympathetic nervous system, allowing the body to heal
- non-reactive - second, by having a calm mind, you develop the habit of being non-reactive. You can observe an event without reacting to it. You can assess your exercisable options and make informed decisions instead of going into auto-pilot
- economy - by not being stressed-out, you also economize your energy, saving it for the more essential tasks
- gifts - this serves as a powerful distraction, but meditation can awaken inherent esoteric abilities
There are many techniques - visualization, observation, uttering a mantra, breath regulation (pranayama), counting, etc. The most popular is to start with the breath. The breath serves as the umbilical cord between the physical world and the esoteric world of prana - the life force governing our universe. The breath also primes the body to be in a meditative state.
Start of Practice
Traditionally, the sequence for meditation is preceded by asana and pranayama. Since we've done our asana, let's begin our meditation by doing a few rounds of pranayama.
- cross your legs either in full lotus, half lotus or just a simple crossing
- keep the sit bones centered and square. It may help to sit on a cushion.
- keep the spine vertical aligned - no slouching
- keep the crown of the head reaching up the sky, creating length and space on the spine
- put your hands by your lap, either on a mudra or just resting on the lap. Best if you can have the thumbs lightly touching each other with right fingers on top of left (for guys) and left over right for females
- light smile on the face - like a Mona Lisa
- we practice Strong Determination (Addithana) on this pose - for the full length of this session, do NOT move or open your legs. Observe the increasing discomfort without any reaction whatsoever. Just observe the sensation with a calm and balanced mind.
- Nadi Shodhan - alternate nostril breathing exercise, regulates vital life force
- Kapalbhati - skull shining forceful exhalation
- Kapalbhati/Nadi Shodhan - forceful exhalation alternating on both nostrils
- we are still into Pranayama, as we continue regulating our breath
- imagine your lungs to be a balloon, inflating with every in-breath, and deflating on every out-breath
- inhale completely, making the most of all the nutrition..all the prana we get from the air
- exhale completely, fully emptying the lungs - no residual air left
- always pause between the in-breath and the out-breath
- on the inhale, fill the chest portion of the lungs first, then continue the breath filling-in the belly, allowing it to expand out
- on the exhale, empty the belly first, followed by the chest...like pressing toothpaste out of its tube
- observe the subleties of the breath. Is there more air coming in or out of one nostril compared to the other? Observe.
- keep observing...is the out-breath warmer than the in-breath? Just how much warmer? Observe without any reaction.
- observe the in-breath as it passes through the inner lining of the nostril
- observe the out-breath as it touches the area above the upper lip
- continue breathing, keeping the mind alert and vigilant
- resume normal breath. Don't regulate the breath anymore. No more Pranayama. Don't even pay attention to your breathing
- instead, focus your attention to what you are thinking - observe your own thoughts
- you are not your thoughts. You are observing the mind's thought-process. Begin to see them from a distance.
- imagine yourself to be a mountain - immovable, permanent and massive. Imagine your thoughts to be passing clouds - they arise, drift by and pass away into nothingness
- if you stray and become lost in your own private thoughts...and this will happen, take refuge back into the breath, and resume observing your thoughts
- now, we stop observing our mind and begin to focus on the body. We put our attention to individual body parts
- bring focus on the head - from the scalp all the way down to the neck. Observe if there is any sensation. Does it feel heavy? Does it feel itchy? Does it feel throbbing? Don't create any sensation...just observe them if there is any. Let's spend a minute here observing the head and any body sensation that might be there.
- bring your attention lower to the muscles at the base of the neck....and across the entire span of the shoulders. Observe. Do you feel anything? Is one shoulder heavier than the other? Is one shoulder higher than the other. Do you feel any sensation? If you do, what kind of sensation. Whatever it is, don't react to it.
- from the shoulders, bring your attention to the entire length of the arm, all the way down to the finger tips. Is there a tingling sensation on the fingers? Do you feel your pulse? Is the pulse stronger on one hand?
- bring the attention up and into the chest. Do you feel it expand on the in-breath? Do you feel it's contraction on the out-breath?
- focus now on the abdomen. On the in-breath, does it expand as much as the chest? When you exhale, which contracts first? The abdomen? or the chest? Observe without any reaction.
- shift the attention now on the pelvic area. Observe for any sensation that might be there. Does it feel fatigued? Is it completely relaxed?
- let us observe both legs from the upper thigh to the toes. It's a huge muscle group. Do you feel anything when you observe it? Is there any tightness? Are the muscles limp or are they tight? Do you feel any sensation on the tips of the toes?
- having scanned the full body, scan it one more time in one full breath - from the top of the head to the tip of the toes
- on the next breath, scan it again for any sensation from the tip of the toes to the top of the head
- let's bring our attention back in the breath and do a deep, long inhale. Continue breathing.
- on the next exhale, let's all utter the OM Mantra and let's do it 3x
- inhale everyone....and
- let us put our hands together in front of our chest, open our eyes...and greet each other Namaste
- this ends our meditation practice
Getting Seated Properly
...after 10 minutes of focused breathing
...after 10 minutes of observing the thoughts
Practice Ends Here
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
Reader Comments:MichaelDouglas Yap
(Nov 10, 2015) Thank u!
(Nov 10, 2015) Awesome to see you again Gigit! thanks for teaching us meditation
Leave a comment?
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Cebu City, Philippines
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Suggested Destinations in Cebu
- Camotes Islands - caves, beaches
- Cebu City - rich in culture and history, 2nd largest city in the Philippines
- Moalboal - amazing coral reef system, sardine bowl, deep drop-off for freediving
- Oslob - Butanding (whale shark) watching
- Bantayan Island - long stretch of fine white sand beach, Virgin Island for snorkeling
- Malapascua Island - divers' paradise for seeing the rare Thresher Shark
- Cantabaco Cave - Toledo
- Barile Waterfalls - Barile
- Whale Shark Tour - Oslob
- Carcar - chicharon and lechon in public market
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