Misconceptions about Yoga and Meditation.
People do yoga and meditation for different reasons. Some want peace of mind, and stress relief, while others seek more self-control, and aim to the union with their Self. What is the real meaning here?
People meditate for different reasons.
In modern western culture, meditation has become increasingly popular. More people apply meditation in their daily lives for different reasons and benefits. Some may want more peace of mind, while others seek more focus and self-control. Then, there are those who want to relieve stress and anxiety, and others who utilize meditation to visualize and manifest the life they want. Finally, we have the serious ones who aim to the highest good, of union with their Self, or self-realization.
Meditation can be applied for all those reasons, explained above, and even to help cure illness and disease. However, the single most important purpose of meditation is to reconnect with yourself and to expand your consciousness and awareness. It is for your inner growth, focus, and self-awareness.
Very few attend yoga classes for the sake of practicing yoga.
Those who do physical yoga exercises, called hatha yoga, may be seeking physical fitness, a healthy body, while others are trying to harmonize their body and mind. Then, there are those who apply asanas or poses and stretches for a higher cause, trying to prepare their body, nerves, and mind for a deep concentration and meditation. Most people, however, do not understand the purpose of those physical disciplines and turn them into some sort of a gym class.
A gym class made out of yoga asanas, deprived of all spiritual essence, and flow, is no yoga at all. As long as you set your focus upon your inner essence, then alone can it become yoga?
So, it does not necessarily mean you are doing yoga!
When you do physical yoga exercises, poses, and stretching, it does not necessarily mean you are doing yoga. Imagine you are in a cycle of the Surya asana, or sun salutation, and suddenly you are thinking about your dinner preparations. What is missing? Your inner focus, or being in a meditative flow. Remember, yoga without inner focus and self-connection is no yoga at all.
So, was all the body and mind effort really yoga, or was it just another class in the gym? Take a look at some common misconceptions:
Five common misconceptions about yoga.
- Yoga is a real fitness system.
- Yoga is a set of physical exercises.
- Yoga is a system of poses and stretches.
- Yoga is for harmonizing the body and mind.
- Yoga is a system of poses, and breathing exercises.
Yoga Asanas – Down-facing dog.
The true meaning of Yoga is Union.
Yoga is a system of various disciplines leading towards the union with the inner Self. It is the science of self-realization. The goal of the yoga practitioner is to attain self-awareness or self-realization. It is the absolute union of matter and spirit, and the submission of the ego to the higher Self.
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yug, which means to „join“, or „unite“. Therefore, it is essential in all yoga systems, including poses and exercises, to apply concentration and meditation. That alone can bring forth the state of yoga or union.
Meditation is a means towards yoga, union.
Misconceptions about meditation are also very common. In fact, it is not possible to explain what meditation really is, because it can only be felt by experience. Very often, I get the question: „What do you think while meditating“? Now, what if I told you that meditation is the complete opposite of thought, then the question becomes very inadequate.
Now, as with the yoga classes the same problem arises with meditation. You may be sitting in meditation and your mind begins to wonder about the car you want to buy or the movie you just saw with your friends. Was the meditation real or was it just another daydream? For many, it is not clear what meditation really is. Take a look at some misconceptions.
Six common misconceptions about Meditation.
- Meditation is a means to an empty mind.
- Meditation is a means to stress and anxiety relief
- Meditation is thinking.
- Meditation is to quiet the mind.
- Meditation is relaxation.
- Meditation is being in the moment of now.
No single word can explain Meditation?
Metaphors are often used to explain the incomprehensible. A very common one is the Arrow and the bow. A preliminary step to meditation is concentration or Dharana in yoga terminology. Concentration is when your awareness is focused on one single object or subject for an extended period of time. This is the arrow aimed at the target.
Now, it must be understood, that the mind is an unstrained monkey, which cannot be controlled, nor are thoughts controllable. Thoughts are projections of the mind. However, it is possible to control your focus and awareness, within your mind, and hence attain some self-control over the monkey mind.
It is not mind-control, but much rather it is awareness control. You need to disconnect your awareness or focus from your thoughts and emotions and direct it onto a single object or subject. Then you identify yourself with the target and maintain this focus.
As a result, the arrow is released, and your awareness is elevated to a higher state of consciousness. This is where meditation begins, or Dhyana in yoga terminology. Meditation is an elevated or transcended state of conscious awareness. It is not something you do or can do. It is a spontaneous revelation of your transcendental consciousness, resulting from your extended concentration.
Meditation is the result of concentration and by nature a self-expansion. In Meditation, you will feel a sensation of bliss, your growing and expanding consciousness. You get a sense of the state „I am“, which is the unification with your higher Self or Consciousness. This is self-expansion and self-connection, a deep state of ever-expanding consciousness.
As a metaphor, we could say, If you are the sky, then the birds passing by are your thoughts. When the water becomes still, and the thought waves stop, then you can see yourself through. Your thoughts and emotions are still there, but your awareness has gone beyond the conscious mind.
Eyjólfur Andrés Björnsson
Digital Blogger & Founder of Meditation Lifestyle.