Purity of the mind, happiness of the heart, equanimity at the very core; this truth becomes obvious and even more precious as we delve deeper into the mysteries of the self. Through yoga we get a glimpse of the inner workings of the body as the postures are explored. We become aware of who we are at the physical level. Meditation ultimately clears the soot off the window of our very essence, offering a brilliant view of the self and the deeper connection to all of mankind. Combined, yoga and meditation provide a recipe for real peace, real harmony and real joy.
Being an A-type personality, I found practicing yoga first (and meditation second) a blessing because it allowed me to go deeper into the self by first eliminating excess energy. The postures of yoga can be at times vigourous, fast paced and challenging and/or it can introduce calm and poetic movement that also challenge, but at a different level.
Meditation, on the other hand generally requires sitting for some period of time. It’s challenge is to continue to focus inside, to view the mind going off on tangents and to lasso it back to the original focus, and to be able to sit upright and remain comfortable. For me, once the leg muscles become flexible enough to sit cross legged for a period of time, and the back muscles strong enough to keep me comfortably upright for some time, the mind seems to be less agitated and a seated meditation is more workable. Meditation is best guided by an instructor, as is yoga, until one has a routine that one can adhere to, and get results with ease.
Practiced together, yoga and meditation take us deep into the body’s experience. More and more is revealed the more proficient we become.
In my experience, regular yoga practice has generated:
- greater spinal flexibility
- less postural pain,
- more openness in shoulders and hips (equals less slumping, and more upright stance- therefore a more youthful appearance)
- greater neck and back mobility
- more joy, as a result of freedom of movement
- the ability to continue to rollerblade, bike, hike, and to play sports that my peers do not necessarily participate in anymore.
Meditation practice has brought the realization that:
- The subconscious (or unconscious) is what really controls 99% of our actions.
- The subconscious reacts spontaneously and before I am consciously aware, thereby causing me to react a split second after, (a) a driver cuts out in front of me, (b) I am angered by something, (c) I am excited by something. (Because the reaction is so quick, I often wish that there was a pause button located somewhere in the area of my mouth.)
- There is an antidote to #2 above. I can open the pathway between the conscious and subconscious mind, feeling the reaction, observing it, and releasing it before it manifests into something ugly. (And before the anger, hatred, or craving repeats itself over and over for years to come) This is easily learned through a Vipassana Instructor, and is an incredible gift! See www.Dhamma.org
- The “I” of you and I, is really just a beautified image constructed by the ego. It hides the fear and insecurity that dwells within each one of us. Once we realize that the millionaire is probably more miserable than the poor person (or at least as miserable) due to endless clinging, craving and aversion, what is there to envy?
Yoga unites us through the common experience of grace and humility. Meditation reveals the universality of every being, no matter race or creed, no matter which religion one subscribes to, no matter whether one has financial wealth or not.
Together, the practice of yoga and meditation confirm that purity of the mind, happiness of the heart, and equanimity at the very core, is really and truly accessible. They confirm that the mysteries of the self are universal mysteries, the same ones that exist in each one of us, all across the world. Yoga and meditation together open our hearts to real peace, real harmony and real joy.
Copyright © 2010
Heather L. Johnston, is a Registered Dental Hygienist and a Certified Yoga Instructor in Cambridge Ontario, who helps health oriented adults find rest and relaxation through the practice of yoga and meditation. Your experience is welcome; please feel free to share in the comment section below.