Meditation

Meditation has come to mean many things since it’s popularisation in the West. At it’s most basic it is a simple activity for quieting the mind, body and emotions, bringing a sense of calm to our whole being and producing a wide range of deep reaching health benefits.

At it’s most fundamental it is an ancient tool for spiritual evolution ultimately resulting in the union (Yoga) between the consciousness of the individual, limited by the parameters of their belief structures, and the infinite consciousness of the source of all existence, often referred to as God.

meditation class Asheville NC

“Yoga chitta vritti nirodha” – Oneness occurs when the whirlpools of the mind are subdued. (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, 2:1)

However one approaches meditation they will find it has something to offer and will provide noticeable benefits within a short time. It is recommended that instead of talking extensively about meditation the best approach is just to begin with a few minutes each day (20 is enough) and see first hand for yourself. Theory is useful but it is no substitute for experience.

“Read a little, meditate more, think of God all the time” – Paramahansa Yogananda

Breathwork

Breath is the most fundamental aspects of our existence, without it we have just a few moments of life. If our breath is functioning naturally, then our mind and body will function at their optimum. If our breathing is laboured due to stress, tension or bad posture then our oxygen levels will be out of balance and that will have a further effect on the rest of our health.

Through the use of simple breath awareness and yogic breathing techniques, known as pranayama, it is possible to create beneficial changes in our health, state of mind and overall quality of life.

“As is the breath so is the mind. As is the mind so it the man”.

Relaxation Response

The relaxation response is a term coined by Herbert Benson in 1976. It is the change we experience when we switch off the flight or fight response of high stress and return to the rest and digest state. By using a simple object of focus, such as the breath or a repeated word or phrase, we can learn to take control of our autonomic nervous system and switch off the emergency state of hyper arousal. It is very simple to do and takes no more than few minutes in most cases.

In today’s world many of us are constantly stressed and it is easy to live most of the day in fight or flight mode. The stress hormones are only meant to be running through our system for short periods at a time, when they are needed to get us out of danger. If we live in an almost constant state of perceived threat these stress hormones flood our system day after day, cause accelerated wear and tear and throw us out of balance. Over time this leads to a multitude of serious health issues and eventually death.

The technique itself has been found to be less effective than Transcendental Meditation for stress relief in several studies and there are many activities which can trigger the relaxation response, what’s important to note is that it is possible alter our physiological state of being quickly and simply in just a few minutes. or even seconds, once we know how.

Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga is a lifestyle practice from India that focusses on refining the mind and body to remove obstacles on the path of conscious evolution. It consists of meditation practice, specific breath techniques, adherence to certain yogic principles of ethical conduct and functional living, simple health guidelines and other tools. The book ‘Autobiography of A Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda gives a very good introduction to the tradition. Please send an email for more information.