Meditation: Learning to Concentrate, by Parvati Devi
Meditation is very dear to me as it fuels my life and is the foundation of all I do. It is a deepening, ongoing process that continues to teach me the true value of life and love. In our active lives, meditation helps us step out of our business and see a bigger picture.
I like to say that meditation is my medication: it’s my way of healing the neuroses of my mind. Our minds wander. They want. We can feel spontaneously happy then suddenly unhappy. Yet enlightened teachers tell us that these ups and downs are not ultimate reality. As we evolve, we learn to go beyond the flux of the mind and rest in the eternal.
Meditation helps us tap into what is essential and timeless. It treats and heals our perception that we are separate from all that is. It helps us develop a new consciousness muscle in which our awareness is focused on the vastness of possibility, rather than on the temporal.
Learning to concentrate is the first step to meditating. People say they cannot get their mind to stop, so they can’t meditate. Yet it is the nature of the mind to be busy. When we meditate, we learn to go beyond the mind, concentrating despite possible distractions from passing thoughts.
Meditation is the state of absorption upon which one concentrates. Eventually one moves through the busy mind and touches the quiet, open, field of pure potentiality, where someday we all will permanently reside.
This is a classical Hatha yoga concentration practice called Trataka, which means “to look” or “to gaze”.
1. Find a quiet and relaxed environment away from the busyness of your life. It could be a separate room, or it could be a quiet corner of a room. Choose a spot where you feel safe and relaxed, that is not your bed.
2. Sit upright, either on the floor or on a chair, free from any back rest such as the wall or the back of a chair. You can sit on a cushion and/or prop your legs with cushions as needed so that your hips and spine feel relaxed and supported.
3. Light a tall candle or raise a shorter candle (not a tea light) so that the golden flame is at eye level.
4. Look at the flame with a relaxed, focused gaze, without blinking. Keep your eyes open, even if they begin to tear.
5. When you feel the need to close your eyes, do so and keep them closed. While your eyes are closed, you will still see the image of the flame. Focus now on this for as long as you can, until it is no longer visible. While you are focusing on that golden flame, feel that you are the flame, that you are internalizing the gold light.
6. Open your eyes again, and return your gaze to the flame as in Step 4. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for about ten minutes.
7. After ten minutes, conclude the practice by keeping your eyes closed, taking three long breaths, feeling the energy of that gold light in your spine and your whole being. Give thanks inwardly for this practice.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine. In addition to being an internationally acclaimed Canadian singer, songwriter, producer and performer, she is a yoga teacher and holistic educator, having studied yoga and meditation since 1987, and developed her own yoga teaching style called YEM™: Yoga as Energy Medicine. Her current show, “Yoga in the Nightclub”, brings forward a conscious energy into the pop mainstream.