Here I am sitting meditating in a quiet place, I have turned off the phone, I have closed (no … closed!) The door, I have turned off the lights, I have even turned on some calming incense. But ar .arghhhh my mind! It’s everywhere, running from one thing to another: my plans for tomorrow, what I told someone, what they told me, wow, I forgot to do something, and so on. I feel like a hopeless case! Oh, I can never meditate again!
But not all is lost. Introduce premeditation techniques. Sometimes it is not enough to find our place quiet, we have to spend some time preparing for what can be an amazing experience, but it often feels frustrating and impossible.
Depending on our needs, we can try to relax with some yoga asanas, guided relaxation or best of all with a little yoga breathing. Yoga breathing is called Pranayama and basically consists of a variety of breathing practices that have an effect on our mind, nervous system, internal organs and muscles … in fact, all facets of the body and mind. Yoga breathing is ideal for stabilizing, energizing and / or relaxing the body while focusing on the mind.
One breathing practice that is very practical before a quiet meditation time is Brahmari breathing. This very simple and enjoyable pranayama is super calming for the nervous system, calms the mind and helps us to be well focused on our meditation. All it takes is a long, deep breath.
Brahmari breathing also has its health benefits. Clinical studies have linked Brahmari respiration to an increase in nitric oxide in the sinuses. This reduces inflammation and is recommended in cases of sinusitis where the sinuses become inflamed and swollen. Brahmari breathing has also been found to lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Other reported but not clinically verified benefits of Brahmari breathing are the reduction of disorders such as hormonal imbalances, depression and anxiety. Some people find it helpful in overcoming anger and frustration, while others report strengthening their voice. And because of its calming effect, it has even been found to be beneficial in overcoming drug addiction.
When we hum we can choose where we sing the sound. A low buzz can vibrate in the chest, while a slightly higher tone will draw our attention to the vibration of the throat, a much higher tone will vibrate the sinuses, the back of the eyes and even the brain. It is possible that when you experiment with these different steps, they have a subtly different effect. A higher pitch can help you be more alert, while a lower pitch can be more relaxing. It is okay to use many steps with each breath or a couple of breaths. As a premeditation technique, I recommend starting with a higher tone for 2-4 breaths, then lowering down the throat a few more and ending with a low tone that vibrates around the heart. If you are meditating on transcendental mantras, it is pleasurable after experiencing the vibration of the board around the heart to visualize the mantra bathing and cleansing our heart and mind.
It only takes you 3 or 4 minutes to breathe and hum and receive the full benefit of this technique and then you will be ready to have a pleasant and focused meditation.
Per Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and director of the Veda Yoga Teacher Training
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