Here are some useful ideas about mediation techniques and self hypnosis. Incorporate them into your daily life and feel the difference. Meditation reduces stress and refreshes your entire being.
Meditation to understand ourselves, takes us to a different level. This is where it gets to be personalized. Human temperaments are different, and while all are necessary to accomplish any task, each individual has a leaning ranging from a trusting devotion, to analytical, to those who want to jump right into something and experience it themselves.
Thus, one with a leaning towards an intellectual analysis will find oneself attracted to techniques that offer food for such a mind. Others, who are more faith /devotion oriented, may wonder at someone’s need for constant queries!
Thankfully, in our eastern philosophical system, (Sanatan Dharm in particular) all these temperaments are honored and Gurus have presented methods to suit all degrees of awareness. There are many kind of meditations, each one a prelude to the next step, each one enhancing the other. Here is a brief introduction to the different kinds.
There are two broad categories – Passive and Active meditation.
Passive methods are those that take us into the silence. . Examples of passive ones are mantra meditation, yantra (picture or mandalas or geometric pattern) meditation, or Breath meditation.
Active ones are those that utilize the silence to trigger creation. Examples of active ones are visualization, and others that actively instigate changes.
A third kind of meditation is in Buddhist traditions, and within our own yoga tradition in some ways is Present Moment (Mindfulness) meditation, whose focus is to learn to be very in accord with the present moment.
Therefore, if you are focusing on the present moment when you drive, or ride a rickshaw, or in fact when washing dishes, yes, you are doing a form of meditation. Whenever you can be in total experience of the current moment, you have dipped into the vat of bliss, one soak at a time. This it will lead you to your next step.
Hypnosis – “an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep, characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion”
Hypnosis is an artificially induced state, which is useful in therapy to assist the process of breaking out of unhealthy habits. It is a controlled state and a specific outcome is achieved in it.
Meditation is a state where the mind is in total rest, so that the power of the higher (divine) Self within manifests itself. There is no question of control, either by you or by anyone else. Hypnosis is not encouraged for any beginners, because of possible harm.
Hypnosis is the process of inducing a suggestive state of mind where the critical thinking faculties are bypassed.
Autosuggestion is affirmations, suggestions, ideas that are placed in the mind while in that state. It works on the idea of Self Talk. We are products of what we say to ourselves.
As in a tape player/recorder, our Self Talk about our Beliefs, attitudes, wishes, (Samskaras, Vasanas) are constantly played in a repeat mode. Triggering, reinforcing more of the same thinking, and setting into action a process like self-fulfilling prophecy. Such self-talk is recorded in our tape player, through our experiences, in our families, community, and culture in general.
While there is enough from this lifetime, for those who believe in reincarnation, these may also be time tracked over several lifetimes.
Subliminal affirmations, auto suggestions, vocal /written affirmations, mantras, all serve to change such thinking patterns and self-talk which are felt to be unhealthy and unproductive. Self-talk may take many forms. They may be blanket generalizations, tunnel vision, assumptions (presuming to know what others are saying or thinking.
Now that does not mean one denies reality. If I wake up with a headache and say, “it’s going to be a rotten day”, I will probably create that for myself. However, if say, “I have this headache and perhaps it implies I need to take it easy and make it a good day” I will be more likely to achieve that.
All feelings are associated with some somewhat self-talk… it is an interesting exercise to do for oneself.
Concentration and the technique to address the wandering mind is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the meditation practices, recommended by many schools of practice.
Concentration means Exclusive attention. In meditation, the only concentration needed is being conscious of the fact that you are sitting in meditation. Beyond that, there is no force, no expectation, no failure or success, no self-reproach or condemnation, no judgment at all.
Let us look at the steps from a practical point of view. All these following steps are common to any activity you do on a regular basis, including work, study, cook, sleep etc.
1. Intention – One needs to have the intention for sitting down to practice meditation.
2. Assign space and time – Need to assign a spot and a time of day for the purpose.
3. Regularity – One needs to sit in this space and time whenever one is meditating.
4. Make a mental shift- Just as one has to make a mental shift from one activity involving a certain level of physical arousal to another, this too needs one. Meditation is a quieter/ low arousal activity, and in scheduling it immediately after a hectic one, one needs to be aware that the shift will take a little time. Hence, one recommends early morning time.
5. Complete the task – Whatever the length of time you assign for this activity, you need to complete it.
Practicing it regularly, 2 rounds of 15-20 minutes is good. Ideal times are early morning, and anytime in the evening.
During meditation the primary problem is our wandering, restless mind, visiting places, worrying, or planning. Do not fight this. The mind is trained in this mode of being; it is simply doing what it has been programmed to do over a long time. The practice of meditation re-programs the mind to a state more conducive to one’s potentialities.
Each time you notice that the mind has wandered, simple make a note of it – “My mind has wandered away.” Bring it back refocusing on the breath or mantra, whichever one you are using reminding yourself that you are in meditation right now. If it goes off again, bring it back gently, patiently without any judgment.
Just as you teach a child to walk, patience, repetition, and a total non-judgmental attitude is the key to experiencing the benefits of meditation.
Lie on our back in shavashana, relaxed, with the tips of your toes pointing outwards, hands beside the body with palms facing up. If you wish, you may cover yourself with a blanket.
Close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths. Relax more and more with every outgoing breathe.
Lie relaxed as you take your attention to the different parts of your body. Start by taking your attention to your feet, feel where your feet are touching the ground and become aware of them. Take your attention to your lower legs, knees, thighs, buttocks, back, stomach, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, throat, face, and head.
Become aware of your whole body. Become aware of your breath as it flows through you, energizing you with every incoming breath and relaxing you with every out going breath. Avoid falling asleep during the practice though initially you are likely to feel drowsy and sleepy.
Enjoy being with yourself and feel the freedom. Again, take a deep breath in and out. Slowly move your fingers, hands, and feet and stretch your whole body. Taking another, deep breath in, turn onto right side and slowly sit up.
However, simple yoga nidra is an extremely powerful practice in-stilling mental discipline. 5 minutes of this is more relaxing then full night sleep. It is also an ideal way to cool down after hectic activity including a session of yoga asana.