Sitting down in meditation is the ultimate act of self-defiance. No one will be there to hold your hand; no one will whisper you some magically healing words; and no one, except for you, will be there to administer the medicine for your mind. The account that you are about to read is not a science based article. It is a highly subjective, biased opinion, based entirely on my personal experience with the practice of meditation over the years. And that is precisely why it is worth your consideration.
Using the Body as a Gateway to Meditation
The most widely recognized form of meditation - the Vipassana, purported by Gautama Buddha - uses the breath as a single-point concentration method to direct the attention inward. In addition to that, the yogis of India and Tibet have developed intricate body-based techniques to gain access and achieve total stillness. My first experience with meditation came through a prolonged study of Hatha yoga, but it was not until I learned to discern between external movements and internal fluctuations that the insight into meditation arrived.
The inner parameter of our physical world functions in very subtle ways, and therefore can be easily missed. We live in a society that is highly preoccupied with outer systems of identification, often drawing conclusions through our five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. And although our feelings may be to some extent stimulated by these senses, it is more often than not, that we make our most defining decisions viscerally, primarily relying on our emotions, whether we want to admit it or not.
Can I Cite Intuition as My Reason for Quiting a Job?
Enter the sixth sense - the intuition, our long-lost friend. Arguably the most mysterious of the bunch, because it cannot be easily quantified, this powerful “gut-reaction” often accompanies us in times of crisis or highly questionable situations. But, what if we learned to identify the signs and signals that our intuition is communicating to us in everyday mundane situations? Can intuition become mainstream?
Well, that depends on how good of a friend we can become with our intuition. Let’s take, for example, a simple Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation sequence in Hatha yoga. This eight-asana series, laced with the alternating inhale-exhale motion, is probably the most graceful and by far the most essential “body-centering” sequence ever invented. And yet, it can be very boring for the beginner practitioner - simple postures repeating endlessly like a viscous “wheel of fortune.”
More often than not, this sequence is taught mechanically, as a kind of warm-up in most occidental yoga classes. A big mistake, as it is in fact the “creme-de-la-creme”, a “diamond sutra”, a “golden nugget” of yoga, offering incredible insight and endless intuitive intelligence. It should be the culmination of yogic practice, not the tedious “foreplay” to the more advanced acrobatic contortions.
When East Meets West, or the Trade-Off of Eastern Philosophy
Still today in India, you will see that among the general population, those who rely on the more traditional methods of health management, Surya Namaskar remains the predominant sequence authentically practiced among householders as a staple of general body regulation. A lot of the other yogic traditions emerged as a result of cultural exchange with the foreigners – aren't we just the most effective movers of progress?
But, this is true of so many Eastern philosophies, beginning with yoga and Ayurveda, which had to undergo significant changes to be “exportable” to the West. And yet, despite their simple intricacy, these sciences saw unprecedented over-simplification, only to yield unnecessary complications in the forms of exhibitionary performances - a caricature of the deep implications that they innately possess and the healing methodologies that they have to offer to the world of holistic medicine.
The Eight-Fold Elixir of Hatha Yoga
What Surya Namaskar offers to a mindful practitioner is the possibility to observe the graceful movement of breath and the steady flow of prana, life force energy, throughout the totality of the seven chakra system, energy centers. The sun salutation sequence, in its simplicity, has combined a balanced stimulation of our bodies' vital points in order to reestablish an uninterrupted movement of “chi” and its distribution across all life-supporting systems.
When done consciously and with the guidance of the natural rhythm of the inhale-exhale coordination, Surya Namaskar has the potential to awaken some of the most profound states of healing. It opens up a space where accessing our minds' and bodies' innermost resources for regeneration becomes possible.
If we are not aware of our breath, if we are not proceeding with a sense of intuitive movement, if we just rush through the sequence for the simple need of generating heat, we are unlikely to establish a link between our internal and external systems of self-regulation.
By Irina Viscun for SRISEEKER
Irina Viscun is a practicing Ayurveda and Yoga therapist, with a background in Buddhist Psychology. She takes an integrational approach to her practice, working at the intersection of diverse holistic therapies ranging from the traditional Indian sciences, to Chinese medicine, to Shiatsu and Reiki. As the founding wellness expert at Sriseeker, Irina has poured her practical knowledge of therapy-driven healing into leading one-of-a-kind spiritual retreats in Sri Lanka and abroad.
Born in Moldova, Irina has lived in the United States and Western Europe before finding her way to South East Asia. After years of cultivating her spiritual development, she embraces the intercultural space as her place of residence in the world, identifying with the interconnected nature of existence as her source of inspiration. When not leading transformational retreats, Irina finds her refuge in nature.