The purpose of asana, or the physical practice, in yoga is to ready your body for sitting meditation.
Meditation used to be my least favorite part of yoga. I heard many people rant and rave about the practice, and all of the benefits that came along with it. But to me the thought of sitting in the same position for a long period of time seemed like torture, and I was fearful of silence for too long.
As my asana and pranayama practice has grown so has my meditation. I now find myself loving and craving it; It really allows my mind to be cleansed and purified from all the distractions in daily life.
Through mediation I become an observer of my mind, like an outsider looking in to my own thoughts. As my mind goes blank, I look into my third eye and feel my intuition, finding control to my reactions and awareness to what is really going on inside. Answers can truly be found in silence, but you won't find them unless you try first.
Here are some tips and tricks I have learned through my journey of meditation that will hopefully help you on your journey. Take what you need, and leave behind what you don't to find your own inner peace.
1. Make sure you are comfortable
Step one in meditation is making sure you are completely comfortable, because if you are not this will become extremely distracting. Try sitting with your legs crossed, spine straight, shoulders, neck, arms and legs relaxed. Tilt your pelvis and stack the vertebrate in your spine.
Some modifications are to sit on a cushion/blanket, up against a wall, or maybe just lying down. What you look like is not important, its whats going on inside, so make sure you are completely comfortable and relaxed.
2. Set the scene
Set the scene for yourself. Make sure you are in complete silence, and if at first this doesn't work for you maybe put on a song with no words in the background. Light a candle for some aromatherapy, and dim the lights for yourself. Do whatever you need to to make this a serene environment. Remember to removed anything that will distract you during this time.
3. Start focusing on your breathing
The easiest way for me to tap into meditation is to start by focusing on my breath. At first start noticing your inhalations and exhalations, maybe take a few sighs letting something go. Then throughout the practice focus on your breath, maybe incorporating your favorite breathing technique. The simpleness of your pranayama, or life force, will allow you to tap into a quiet mind.
4. Don't focus on trying to "not think"
If you focus on trying "not to think" that is the only thought you will have. Instead just try focusing on quieting the mind, and observing thoughts. Then when a thought comes to mind (which is completely natural) place no attachment to it and just become aware.
If you are a visual person (like I am) this will really help. When I first started meditation I would visualize my thoughts being cleaned while I sat in meditation. As silly as this sounds, it really worked for me. Visualize yourself in an environment that soothes you, and your thoughts as a picture. Let your imagination explore and do some work.
6. The third eye
Take your gaze to your third eye, the spot between your eyebrows. The third eye is the symbol for intuition and enlightenment. When I focus on this point I can see light, and my mind knows that it is in a state of meditation. Try this for yourself and see what happens.
7. Don't take meditation too seriously
Don't get frustrated or upset if meditation is hard for you. It is a practice you have your whole life to master, so if you don't get it today its no big deal. It will get easier, and some days be easier than others. Just let it take you where you need to go. The act and intention of doing it is the most important part. Never place judgment on yourself.