Meditation and yoga are often separated from one another and viewed as alternative paths in the West. If you want to learn meditation, you see a mindfulness coach or a Buddhist sangha. If you want to bend, you go to a yoga studio. However, meditation is intricately woven into the fabric of yoga and works to achieve yoga’s ultimate goal of merging with the divine. As meditation plays out its role in yoga, it provides a vast array of supportive results that extend beyond the spiritual aspect. Meditation works on the body and mind to provide a stable foundation for the spiritual quest.
Meditating on the banks of Ma Narmada, Maheshwar, India, 2019
Meditation facilitator, Jon Kabat-Zinn, provides in his book “Wherever You Go There You Are,” a playground of options for the beginning meditator. Knowing that many people hear about the peace meditation can bring, yearn for it, but then sometimes back away concerned about their busy mind, meditation facilitators like Kabat-Zinn, provide an avenue for discovering which practice works best for each individual person. Understanding that each person may need different forms of meditation, he points to the understanding that meditation is at its core, concentration. “Meditation is the process by which we go about a deepening our attention and awareness, refining them, and putting them to greater practical use in our lives” (Kabat-Zinn, 2005, p. xvii). His book is meant for novices and those who are naturally rebellious, question everything, prefer space instead of structure (Kabat-Zinn, 2005, p. xviii). It provides a steppingstone for those into the world of meditation whether or not they are suffering. He invites us to move into this practice of being in touch with ourselves and the world (Kabat-Zinn, 2005, p. 3).
One of the practices he provides is different than the typical meditation we see in meditation classes led by Buddhist satsangs or monks and yoga studios where sitting on one’s mat or zafu is required. In Lying-Down Meditation, you can get cozy on the floor, bed, or sofa, but no sleeping (Kabat-Zinn, 2005, p. 151). Keeping your attention on your breath, you become aware of it, and its movement into, out of, and its relationship to the different parts of the body (Kabat-Zinn, 2005, pp. 151-156). This practice uses the technique of mindfulness to draw the attention of the mind. It is part of a meditation technique that Jon Kabat-Zinn developed called Mindfulness-based stress reduction (Nataraja, 2008, pp. 19).
To be continued...
Kabat-Zinn, Jon (2011). Mindfullness: An introduction [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBWWg7qDbGI&ab_channel=GeorgeKalarritis%2CClinicalPsychologist