Am I meditating yet?
Meditation, in yogic practices, is not usually given as much explanation time in beginners yoga classes as guidance on the positioning and alignment of asanas. In fact, many of the explanations used by yoga teachers actually arise from Buddhist meditation techniques. Partly this is due to the fact that Buddhist practices have more written material available – having been developed and maintained through Buddhist monastic traditions.
So what’s the difference and isn’t it all just meditation anyway?
There are many approaches to meditation practice, depending on intention and purpose. In general, yogic techniques revolve around a heightened awareness of your human body as the meditative site along with all its desires, glories and conflicts. You start from there and learn to work with the body, including the body in your meditation. This is different from most (but not all, as I will explain in a later entry) Buddhist meditation techniques where one of the goals is to not identify with the body which is considered the site of our suffering.
So how do you know you are “meditating”?
Meditation is something that is experienced and so, like many of life’s (and death’s! )experiences, no one can really describe it although probably the best descriptions come from poets. The language of poetry can evoke an experience, like that of being in love or of expressing grief. As students and teachers of meditations, the best we can do is utter these songs or sutras written as revealed insights that then may guide us also.