The word “Yoga” has become a mainstream term for yoga postures. In truth it is part of a holistic approach that guides us in several practices which includes social discipline, self-study, poses, breath control, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation, and absorption.  These practices are known as the 8 limbs of yoga. Each of these practices may be introduced more deeply, but for today we will discuss the 7th limb, which is meditation.

Meditation allows us to discipline the mind to stop the excess thoughts from steering us away from our focal point of thought. For example, if your main focus is to think of compassion, you do not want the mind to be listing tomorrow’s groceries or planning for a weekend getaway trip.  If your main objective is to sit for 10 minutes and stay in the present moment during that time, a regular practice without being attached to outcome or aversions will discipline the body and mind towards that objective.  So with meditation you practice on stilling the mind from thoughts that are irrelevant to the object at hand. Once you have a continuous flow of thought toward only that one object that is known as meditation.

Thousands of years ago, the Sage Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutra for his students, and thankfully it's been shared and translated for us to learn & practice from as well. The Sutra was written in Sanskrit, which is also the language in which you may hear yoga teachers call out the yoga poses, for example Tadasana is Sanskrit & is translated in English as "Mountain Pose....In any case :) In Book 1 verse 2 it reads in Sanskrit “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha”. This is translated in Reverend Jaganath Carrera's book ‘Inside the Yoga Sutras’ as “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga”.  By practicing the various disciplines of yoga, the mental modification of the "mind stuff" (the mind's activities in the subconscious, conscious & unconscious levels) ceases and you gain awareness of your true nature, which is the Self within you that is not affected by time, physical changes, or nature.  By acknowledging your true nature, you reach a state of peace & joy, and craving for objects seen or heard of ceases to have control over your sense of Self. Yoga practice helps you cease the mental activities keeping your mind clear, peaceful & one-pointed, thus leading to meditation.

Meditation continues to influence the life of many in all parts of the world, from all backgrounds of life.  This is because the practice is available to all regardless of faith, age, gender or physical limitation. The practice of meditation allows people to gain better quality of life wherever they are and whoever they are.

Meditation is known for reducing stress; it allows the practitioner to have a peace of mind by letting go of distracting thoughts.  By focusing the mind on one given object the practitioner can reveal the true nature of the object for example when practicing compassion, if you strip away all distracting thoughts, you will reveal the beautiful nature of a compassionate heart, bringing you joy and acceptance.  For example, when you are compassionate for someone you are taking care of, your mind is not wandering away from the task at hand, you see & fully understand the needs of that person. When done with the task, you will be completely satisfied that you've cared for that person to the best of your ability because your mind was one-pointed, clear & at peace with your loving kindness.

With meditation we learn more of ourselves, and we begin to accept who we are as our true nature is revealed to us. We no longer feel bound to an idea of who we should or could be.  Every day is a new day and we accept the present moment of who we are now, accepting the outside changes that may occur will not have an ill affect on the inner Self which remains unaffected within us. This concept will be clear to you with time & practice, and you will be at peace with your own nature.

Fears are short-lived as we realize that what counts most is the present moment, and in the present moment, fears are of no consequence, because we’ve let go of the past, have no assumptions leading us into the future, but remain in a stable present where all possibilities are available to us. 

In Patanjali’s Sutra Book 1, Verse 14 is translated as stating “Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and w/enthusiasm”.  Leading every day with a meditation practice of at least 20 minutes twice a day will give you the foundation to experience the peace & joy within you

As my yoga teachers says "Meditation is peaceful, clear, and one-pointed". Practice meditation each day, without expectations, and find your own experience, find your Self.