“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.” -Sakyong Mipham.
One may think that seated meditation is an easy thing to do, but I have discovered throughout my years of practice that it can be one of the most challenging aspects of yoga. Living in such a busy society as we do today, it can be really hard to take some time out of your schedule to just sit and be still. In my own life, I have found that when I make the conscious effort to practice seated meditation, I feel the benefits immediately. I am calmer, I feel more focused and less scattered. Overall, I feel a greater sense of peace and connectedness with myself and my purpose.
There are many different ways to practice seated meditation whether it be Kundalini, Guided Visualizations or Mindful Meditation. When I am leading a class, I enjoy doing Guided Meditations, particularly with those who are newer to meditating. For my own meditations, I benefit the most from Mindful Meditation, which essentially requires being seated in a cross-legged position or seated in Verasana (Hero’s pose), sitting up nice and tall, connecting your root chakra to the floor, fingers in Mudra, palms face up (receptivity) or palms face down (grounding) and focusing on your breath. Taking nice, full deep breaths. Not forcing any breath, just taking what is there. Feeling and appreciating the gentle ebb and flow of your breath as it comes in and releases out of your body. When distracting thoughts arise, as they so often do, they can be recognized, but then bring the mind to focus back on the breath.
Ujjayi pranayama (breathing) is often used while meditating as it brings an added focus to the practitioner. For Ujjayi, you take a nice inhale filling your lungs with rejuvenating oxygen, and as you exhale you lightly constrict your throat, creating an oceanic sound. If your thoughts become too distracting during meditation to focus, Ujjayi breathing is often recommended to bring that focus back to the breath, giving the mind a rest from its daily worries.
Giving our bodies and brains a rest from the everyday thoughts and concerns that so often plague us can bring an added rejuvenation to our minds, boosting problem solving and creativity. In addition, taking some time out for yourself to be still and to relax can help in reducing anxiety and depression. For whatever purpose you choose to meditate, it can have lasting benefits for all who regularly practice it.