This was originally featured at the Insight Timer blog on 6 December, 2019. Meditation for yogis.
If you are a yoga practitioner then you have a special advantage for the practice of meditation. Yoga postures, asanas, have the power to help us access the treasure of mind. You may know already the meaning of yoga, which is union. Meditation is giving ourselves the space we need to unite with ourselves, with the treasure of our mind. Union with ourselves is accomplished through yoga asana IF we can let go of all the extra baggage that often comes with yoga, such as striving for perfection, becoming bendy or more beautiful. Are we practicing yoga to look good? Or are we practicing yoga to let go and become who we truly are?
The Beginning Of A Flexible Mind
The pinnacle, or peak, of yoga is meditation. All that strength, balance and flexibility that yogis accomplish is the support so that meditation can occur. Yoga is the beginning of a flexible mind, training us to stay with it no matter what. Staying with that fight of flight response to challenging poses is getting us used to being out of the comfort zone and into the reality zone. The threat is real but inner strength is stronger.
The pinnacle of yoga is meditation. Having practiced yoga awhile, and experiencing a sense of boredom or lack of inspiration, and yet staying with it, that tunes us into the ordinary mind which is the treasure of mind. Things become very ordinary, maybe flat. You are just open to yourself, which feels like nothing special and completely insignificant. In this state of ordinariness there is no evaluation; your thinking mind has given up and you are just being there, open. You have worked so hard in your yoga practice. Maybe you wish the yoga teacher would stop talking so that you can just be.
Where The Mind And Body Are Not Separate
So you as a yoga practitioner, a yogi, or yogini, have used your whole capacity as human: physically, emotionally, mentally. You have somewhat exhausted your body and given up in your mind. This is the pinnacle, or peak of yoga, which is meditation. Yoga delivers you right to your mind. Mind is the space of openness where you can just let go and relax. You have been training yourself for this for awhile, maybe for a long time. We see ourselves as openness, and we see the world as openness too, because we are not separate.
The pinnacle of yoga is the meditation where the mind and body are not separate or split. We come back to yoga again and again in our beautiful mind/body sadhana. Sometimes it seems the body is strong and the body leads the way. Sometimes the mind is strong and the mind leads the body. Because we are yogis, or yoginis, we know the power of both. Maybe at some point you realise that the mind is more important, that the mind is the king, the main thing. Maybe you realise the mind is the Queen. You realise the body, while not being the same as the mind, is not separate from it.
Moving Through Body & Mind
The pinnacle of yoga is meditation relaxation in the midst of movement, or relaxation in the midst of stillness. The movement of the body and the movement of the mind, our thoughts and feelings, are the continuous dance of ever-changing impermanence. We are dancing with the moods and ups and downs of the body and mind. And we are dancing with the seasons, the changes in relationships, the aging of our bodies, with the weather, with happiness and sadness, with challenges, with situations which make us feel so low or else put us on top of the mountain.
The pinnacle of yoga is meditation wherein we realise that no matter what happens, no matter high or low, the Queen of space, my own mind, is unchanging and indestructible. My own mind is awareness, and it is free of the ignorance of not knowing because I’ve worked so hard in covering all the bases in yoga and meditation, not leaving any hidden corners unexplored. I’ve exposed to the light all my hidden shadows. I’ve not shyed away from my shadow side, afraid of what might be hidden or lurking there. Yoga and meditation together have given me the strength to look, to see, to explore, to feel emotion without fear.
Meditation For Yogis: Just Being You
The pinnacle of yoga is meditation where you forget all about the original motivations you might have had to practice yoga: to feel better, to become a yoga teacher, to be sexy, to be super flexible, beautiful and cool. Rather, you just keep coming back to that ordinary mind, open to yourself, nothing special or extra ordinary. What a relief just to be you, and not strive to be somebody else. Discovering that you are fine as you are, not fine, but perfect. And because you are perfect as you are, you don’t need to prove anything to yourself, or anybody else, and so you are just kind to others, which affects the whole yoga studio, not to mention the rest of the planet. The yoga studio has a beating heart, it’s a yoga studio with soul, with warmth.
The pinnacle of yoga is meditation. So I suggest to begin and/or end your yoga session with meditation.
The next Mindfulness Journeys retreat takes place in Morocco on 5-11 January 2020. Join us for sunshine and clarity and kick off the new decade in reflective style. Still a few places left.