Sivananda Ashram and Meditation

In February of this year, I attended Yoga Teacher Training Certification at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas. I have not written about my experiences during training as they are very personal and spiritual.

I will say even after returning home and walking another Camino, the teachings from that month are still unfolding and changing me in ways I never imagined or dreamed they would or could.

Meditation has become the most important beginning to my day. I meditated before taking my Yoga training but never at a specific time of day and never quite as successfully as I do now. Everyday while in training we attended satsang both in the morning and the evening. For those unaware of what satsang is, the meaning of satsang as defined by Wikipedia is  “being in the company of the truth or the good by sitting together with a guru or a group of spiritual students”.

Satsang began at 6:00 am and 8:00 pm and  continued for one and one half to two hours. It was the first and last thing of each and every day. Meditation for 20 to 25 minutes began satsang each morning and evening.

During training meditation always began during Brahmamuhurtha which is the period of time one and one half hours before sunrise. The reasons behind this are the teachings of the Yoga masters that state the best time to meditate is one and a half hours before dawn, because the mind is inherently still at that time, enabling one to achieve a deeper meditative state.

The practice of meditation is focusing the mind on one point, quieting the mind in order to perceive the Self. By stopping the continuous flow of thoughts you come to understand fully your nature and you will discover the true wisdom and tranquility that lies within.

But this is not as simple as it sounds as meditation cannot be taught, it comes in its own time. There are steps that can be followed to successfully attain the Self, which is the aspect deep inside you that knows and is one with your God.

These steps are:

  • Establish meditation as a regular habit, using the same place and time each day.
  • Sit with your back, neck and head in a straight line, imagine you are a mountain. Sit on a cushion on the floor in Lotus position with your hands in chin mudra (thumb and forefingers together), palms facing upward on your knees. If sitting on the floor with crossed legs is not comfortable, you may sit in a chair, both feet flat on the floor with your hands in chin mudra or on your lap with palms facing up.
  • Breathe deeply at first then slow your breathing to normal.
  • Focus on either your heart chakra or your third eye chakra; you may also focus on an image at the chakra if you like.
  • Silently repeat your mantra; Om is the universal mantra if you don’t have a personal mantra.
  • When your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your focal point and your mantra.
  • Meditation comes when you reach a state of deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti