Last Updated on September 23, 2022
I think doing some kind of meditation is important, but I think what meditation is tends to be too narrowly boxed. People seem to think if they don’t have a seated practice then they don’t have any meditation practice at all. I think meditative activities can be considered to be meditating.
I developed a yin practice back in 2011, and became a teacher in 2013. I think yin yoga – in which you hold stretches for an extended period of time – can be a gateway to meditation or even a form of meditation itself. Sitting with the sometimes-uncomfortable stretch required you to take some control of your mind. Sometimes it’s quite a battle just to stay still and stay focused on physical sensation and the breath.
I am a big advocate of pranayama (breathwork), which I define broadly as any exercise using the breath. An example is paced breathing.
My pranayama practice is more important to me that my meditation practice. I get more out of doing breathing exercises. I attribute a lot of my ability to stay calm and think clearly to pranayama practice.
I wrote about using a metronome here for breath pacing. I even built this little site Metro Meditate a long time ago.
If you are interested in a practical introduction to pranayama, Breathing: The Master Key To Self Healing is a great audio program. I also really liked the book Breath as a light easy introduction to all things breathing.
For deeper study, I liked Science of Breath, and The Yoga of Breath.
The breath is a bridge between body and mind.
In our body the breath is like the silken thread, enabling us to skillfully grasp the string of the nerve impulses; from this we grasp the stout twine of our thoughts, and finally we grasp the rope of prana, thus gaining our ultimate freedom.
Patanjali, the sage who codified yoga science around 200 B.C., explains that the control of prana is the regulation of inhalation and exhalation. This is accomplished by eliminating the pause between inhalation and exhalation, or by expanding the pause through retention. Then, by regulating the motion of the lungs, the heart and the vagus nerve are controlled.Science of Breath
I like the idea from Buddhism about being the watcher. You watch you thoughts, feelings, sensations from an observation point, which helps you dis-identify with the thoughts. This also reminds me of the idea of react vs respond.