Then the seer dwells in his true nature.”
Yoga Sutras 1.1-1.3
Four months ago I discovered Yogani's method and restarted my yoga practice with meditation firmly at its centre. A far cry from my asana-driven practice of recent years. I'm happy to notice I am now in line with the Yoga Sutras's definition of yoga - if there is one yoga method that 'restrains the thought-streams', then meditation is the one. The eight limbs of yoga now look to me more like a backbone (meditation) and seven limbs.
Over the last few months I have done some reading about meditation practices. There seem to be two main types of meditation methods:
- Meditation with an object focuses the attention on an image, sound (laya yoga) or syllable/group of syllables (mantra meditation).
Yogani says that mantra meditation is the most efficient for going deep into silence.
- Mindfulness meditation promotes self awareness by turning the attention inwards, to the body, breathing or thoughts. The aim of mindfulness meditation is to dissociate the self from the contents of the mind (you are not your thoughts, nor your feelings), placing it instead at the hub of consciousness (also called The Witness). The thoughts and feelings are like the spokes of the wheel, always in motion while the hub remains unmoved. The attitude of The Witness is one of openness and acceptance toward the contents of the mind. The best-known methods of mindfulness meditation are Vipassana (believed by some to be the method practised by Buddha's) and Zazen (Zen Buddhist meditation).
Would I ever abandon mantra mediation for pure vipassana? No. I think the repetition of the mantra is an effective method for stilling the mind. Just letting the mind randomly wonder from one object to the next might allow trivial thoughts to gather significance purely by repetition. On the other hand, the mantra gives the mind a stable point from which it can go into silence once emotional tensions have been resolved.