We may associate meditating with folding into a pretzel, sitting with our legs crossed or in lotus seat and touching our thumbs to our index fingers. This is the western perception of a meditating person. And although In a lot of cases this is the posture adapted to meditate by many meditators, it really doesn’t matter how we sit, lay, or even walk while meditating. The focus truly is to still our minds, not to look cool being pretzeled up. Meditating for the doshas specifically can take your practice to a whole new level!
Meditate, don’t medicate!
Let’s look at the benefits of meditation.
There are too many physical and psychological benefits to mediation then to list here. I will give examples of some of the most profound benefits of deep relaxation and meditation:
1. Calmness and resilience of the mind
It is in our human nature to have a monkey mind. Unless we practice focus and mind control our minds are literallymonkeying around, jumping from one thing to the next in a matter of split seconds. Meditation is one of the main tool to real the monkey mind in, mainly by not paying attention to our thoughts, letting them come and go without getting attached to one trail of thought. Eventually the mind will give up, the monkeying will stop, and we will reach a place of deep relaxation without the mind wandering aimlessly. This calmness after the initial storm is achieved by observing the thoughts as they come and go and not engaging with them. It is safe to say that all meditators know the monkey mind and have dealt with it on one occasion or the other. Once meditation becomes a regular practice, the thought waves will in fact seize to run wild.
2. Balanced Emotions
Having control over our mental activity has as a direct result more control over our emotional state. With a mind that is calm through deep relaxation and meditation, we are less likely to live in the past or in the future. Living in the past creates depression, it is closely connected to Kapha. Living in the future creates anxiety, closely related to Vata.
Emotions are ultimately caused by the ego. We often find ourselves reactive when buttons are pushed or when something happens we have no control over. It is okay to feel sad, or angry, or upset, or happy, as long as the emotion doesn’t take hold and runs away with us. Meditation helps to access our consciousness on a deep level and makes us less reactive and neurotic.
3. Hormonal Balance
When we are stressed our body pumps cortisol into our system. Our adrenal glands are in overdrive to provide adrenal so we can run or fight, the ‘fight or flight’ response. Cortisol is the hormone that can make us gain weight and store fat around the midsection. Even physical stress, say 30 minutes of cardio training, will elevate the cortisol levels in our blood. Finding a way to relax and counteract psychological and physical stress is key to not only a calmer mind but also weight management. A regular mediation practice can be helpful to not just relieve stress in the moment, but also create longterm effects on our adrenal system that will ultimately result in a less reactive stress response. We turn down the stress triggers and with that turn down the output of cortisol and it’s friends.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
Making our body less reactive to stress hormones also has a positive effect on our blood pressure. Studies conducted at Harvard Medical School have shown that meditation has a similar effect on blood pressure as does blood pressure medication. Studies done in Great Britain have also shown that patients who practice deep relaxation and meditation have significantly lower blood pressure recordings then the non-meditating population.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Response
Recent studies have shown that stress is also linked to the bodies inflammatory response. Inflammation in the body has been linked to heart disease, skin conditions, asthma, diabetes, arthritis and other diseases. When we are stressed and in ‘fight or flight’ response, our body, by reflex, excretes stress hormones which will cause inflammatory processes in the body.
By training our mind through meditation to be less reactive, more in the moment, and less stressed, we can have an effect on these automatic responses.
Different Strokes For Different Folks – Meditating For The Doshas
There are many different ways to meditate, and not all suit everybody alike. Even sitting in silence, undisturbed, with eyes closed will make a difference in how we feel and what our stress response is.
We know the Doshas each have different qualities and will not only respond differently to exercise and food, but also to the approach to meditation.
The Vata person who’s mind is agitated, a person who experiences anxiety, be it through internal or external stressors, may find it very difficult to sit still and try not to have mental activity. For this person the attempt to meditate may cause more stress and anxiety then already present.
In this case it may be wise to look at methods of meditation that will keep the mind occupied and focus on Something rather then trying to turn it to stillness. Mantra-, Trataka-, or a moving meditation may be good options in this case.
The Pitta person may find it easy to have the discipline to sit still and empty the mind. Pitta may do well with mantra meditation or meditating on the breath. But just sitting and letting the thoughts move through without holding on will work, witnessing thoughts without getting attached to them.
The Kapha person may the most likely to easily sit and meditate without needing a mantra, or vehicle, to guide them to one pointed focus. However, our Kapha person may also be he one who can easily fall asleep when meditating. Sitting in an upright position will be the best option for the Kapha Type.
What is the best position to meditate in?
We should meditate in a seated position. It is not a good idea to lay down to meditate as our mind and body associate laying down with sleeping. To ensure that we get proper sleep at night and the positive effects of meditation during waking times we should find a comfortable sitting position to meditate.
Any position will do, as long as it is comfortable. It doesn’t have to be cross legged and on the floor. It is perfectly fine to sit in a chair or on the sofa as long as the posture can be comfortably held, with a straight spine, for the duration of meditation.
Now that you have learned about the many benefits of a regular mediation practice I encourage you to challenge yourself and free up ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening to sit and be still and experiment with different methods of meditation. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
Your regular meditation practice can be your ally through time and events, you can use it to de-stress and come back to centre wherever you are.