Meditation: Rules for Practice. Part III

Sleep: It is normal for most people to sleep when they relax. However, this is not the aim of meditational practices. Some people may start to get up a little earlier than usual to do their yoga practices. These people in particular will often find it difficult to stay awake. Try not to sleep, for if you do you are really wasting your time waking early in the first place. If you want to sleep, then it is better to stay in bed. There are various methods of overcoming this tendency to sleep: one can go to bed earlier at night and/or take a shower before the practice or at any time that one feels sleepy. If you use cold water it is more drastic, but better. There is an alternative method which works over a longer period of time: this is the method of autosuggestion. That is, suggest to yourself before your practice and at other times during the day that you will not fall asleep during meditational practice. If you say this with resolution, then the idea will take root in the subconscious mind.

Probably the best way to prevent sleep during meditational practice is to do asanas and pranayama beforehand. These techniques are excellent for inducing heightened wakefulness. Apart from this, they simultaneously bring about relaxation of the mind-body complex. As such they are powerful tools in obtaining the most from meditational techniques. For this reason we recommend asanas and pranayama as an integral part of your yoga practice program. There are some people who feel exhausted after meditational practice. This is exactly the opposite feeling to that which is to be expected. Meditation should bring about relaxation. If it fails to do this, then it is a sure indication that you are not practising correctly. Most probably you are trying too hard to concentrate, instead of merely being aware and allowing the mind to wander. Don’t fight and struggle with the mind as though it is an enemy to be subdued by force. Treat it more as a friend and try to coax it by gentle persuasion. Meditation should be a source of joy. It is a time when we tune in with deeper aspects of our nature. This cannot lead to fatigue. If it does, then check for mistakes in your method of practice. Optimism and pessimism: Many people expect to experience meditation on their very first day of practice. This is most unlikely to happen. One should merely practise with perseverance and accept whatever comes. Even though you might not feel the exhilaration of meditation, you will definitely gain many other benefits, including a relaxed attitude to life and mental peace. At times you will become disheartened and doubtful of the claims that are made for meditation. You will feel that perhaps you are wasting your time and chasing ‘a castle in the sky’. Everyone experiences this feeling at one time or another. Don’t despair for the transcendental experience of meditation is the heritage of all of us, the treasure of life waiting to be found.

Physical relaxation: The basic hurdles to overcome in meditational practices are physical pain, stiffness and general tension. It is an essential prelude to be able to forget the physical body. This is impossible if you are continually aware of aches and pains. There are various methods to systematically relax the whole body. The best method is a combination of asanas before attempting your meditational practices. In fact, asanas are designed specifically for this purpose.

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