Guest post graciously contributed by Minta Davis.
Coming to a peaceful state in the mind appears to challenge many of us. Especially forces from work, personal, and global circumstances swirl round in our mind. How do we calm the mind? Many yoga Gurus have shared their wisdom on achieving peaceful mindfulness, or reaching a blissful state of mind. In order to reach this level of peacefulness in the mind, it takes practice and patience through the use of meditation.
There are several techniques that can be used to reach a meditative state. According to Swami Rama, before we can start the journey of meditation, we need to prepare for it. It is through preparation for meditation that we can avoid “obstacles that prevent your meditation from becoming deep or profound.” I view meditation as a practice that cultivates a type of art form starting from within. This art form can use pranayama to bring the body and mind to a single point of balance. The mindfulness aspect of this art form simply means being in the here and now – to awaken the deeper levels of the mind. In order to reach this level – state of mindfulness, according to the Yoga Sutra – III.1-2, “locking the mind on an object is focus, and staying on that object over a stretch of time is fixation.” One technique to help the mind focus is through pranayama work, and then allow the mind to fixate on pranayama for a while. This helps the mind, body, and nervous system to calm down, and avoid distractions that obstruct us from reaching a state of mindfulness. Pranayama begins to balance and shift the physical, mental, and energetic levels of our being. When we are feeling indecisiveness, confusion, restlessness, fearfulness, depression, hatred, envy, anger, delusional, lazy, attachment, nervousness, insecurity, ungrounded, or greedy; this creates imbalances that start to affect the functions of the mind and body. These imbalances are brought back into balance through pranayama practice. An imbalance in the mind can be anxiety, fear, anger, wrong judgement, laziness, depression, and attachment to physical or nonphysical things. I find that by practicing pranayama along with meditation, just being aware of what my imbalances are allow me to release them in a slow, and systematic manner. After meditation, when my mind is peaceful, I know I am ready to respond to other people in a calm and civil manner. Reaching a state of mindfulness is not hard, just prepare, focus, and let go!