Pranayama for Meditation
By Vijai Sharma, PhD • April 12th, 2010 • 13203 Views
Breathing Techniques can Deepen Your Meditation Practice
It is true that sitting in meditation after some time would automatically produce slow, smooth and rhythmical breathing. But you can also speed up the process of deepening your meditation practice by cultivating the habit of slower, deeper and smoother breathing. Improved breathing patterns would also create a psycho-emotional state conducive to more peaceful and joyful meditation.
This article discusses the breathing techniques and psycho-emotional states that can be cultivated over a period of time. This may be of interest for practitioners who want to commit for a longer and deeper meditation practice than the 15-20 minute meditation usually practiced in the west.
Patanjali has set a very high goal for us, "To still the mind so we can find our true identity (Y.S. 1:2), which seems at times almost unattainable. How can we possibly still our mind" Some people, referring to the classic ancient Ashtanga yoga, the 8-limb yoga (Y.S. 2:29) assert that if we really want to still our mind, we have to really learn to meditate. They say we have to successfully cross the lower limbs and progress up to the stage of dhyana. But is that the only prescribed route to access the still mind? Does one have to wait sooo looong to taste the joy of deep meditation? Do we have to master the stages of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara and dharna in order to enter the sacred gates of the dhyana and samadhi state?
Not necessarily true! The 8-limb yoga is not to be rigidly viewed as a LADDER in which the only way to climb up is from a lower rung to the next higher rung. Instead of a ladder 8-limb yoga should be viewed as a TREE. It is much more organic process in which all limbs of yoga are simultaneously communicating, drawing energy from, and mutually supporting one another.
Let us take the 4th limb, Pranayama, (manipulation and control of breathing), exactly at the middle half of the 8-limb Tree, and examine how we can utilize the subtle breathing techniques to accelerate...