Zen awareness. Yoga. Pranayama. Meditation. So much in common!
Originally published 2015
Zen is an interesting concept. With respect to awareness, It’s about being aware of the still background, and focusing your attention there, rather than on the large moving object(s) in the foreground. Reading these words, for example, become aware of the spaces between them, and of the space around the letters. It is that space in which the letters and words are formed. (Without the space, there can be no letters or words!)
When someone is speaking, become aware of the silence between the words. Doing Yoga, become aware of stillness between poses. In that stillness, be aware of the feelings in your body. As you focus your attention, you will begin to become aware of the movement of energy — movement that was activated by the poses. The activity is the foreground. The stillness is the background. Become aware of the background. That is the Zen of Yoga.
In Pranayama, it is said that perfect stillness lies in the moments between the breaths — because the mind ceases activity in those moments. As you observe your breath, then, be aware of those moments… and of the stillness in them. You will find yourself going deeper into meditation, quite unconsciously — that is, without actively trying to do so, because of course you will be perfectly conscious of your body and your consciousness in the present moment. And that, after all, is the essence of meditation.
Remeber, too, that thoughts are inevitable when meditating. Don’t fight them. Let them come and go. As they come and go, become aware of the background — of the stillness between the thoughts. As you focus your attention there, in the momentary gap between one thought and the next. That act of awareness will expand the space of stillness. That stillness is calming. The more you dwell in that stillness, the deeper your calm. That is the Zen of Meditation.
- Pause Between Poses – because it is the moments between poses that give your Yoga practice meaning.
- Peace, Joy, Love, and Meditation – because stillness is the beginning of meditation, not the end-goal.
- Pranayama and Meditation, plus Discourses – Notes on the best introduction to pranayama I’ve ever experienced.
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