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Meditation is an important part of yoga. But maybe you aren't interested in meditating. That's fineā€”just practice the asanas. Chances are, however, that the more you progress through the asanas, the more interested you'll become in meditation. Meditation can do wonderful things for your mind and your body.

Perhaps you aren't sure what meditation is. Really, it's a simple concept. Meditation is the process of attaining total awareness through the cessation of thought. You begin by relaxing. You concentrate on relaxing. Perhaps you feel like a wave relaxing into the ocean, because that's what you are. You are a part of the universe the way a wave is part of the ocean. In fact, repetition of the mantra Om even sounds like waves on the shore. Soon your thought waves decrease and become still. The wise Indian sage Patanjali said, "Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind." We say "Still waters run deep."

As you let your mind relax, notice the thoughts that come to you. Acknowledge them, then let them go. This is difficult at first. We are so used to having busy minds. Especially if you've never meditated before, you may find it virtually impossible to stop following and obsessing over the thoughts racing through your mind. You may think about chores you should be doing, a problem at work, a fight you had with your spouse or child, what to make for dinner, or what you plan to do that weekend. We are conditioned to believe that every minute should count and that we should always be getting as much done as possible. But yoga disagrees with this notion. Yoga says that the mind needs to be stilled occasionally to keep it working at peak efficiency. Face it: You wouldn't leave all the appliances on in your house all day long every day and expect them to work properly for a long period of time. Things would go haywire, burn out, blow out, blow up, or break down.

Ouch!

Even meditation can be counterproductive. Although you probably won't pull a muscle while meditating, it's possible to stay stressed, or even to become more stressed, in your efforts to relax! Don't think. Don't worry that you aren't meditating correctly. Feel your body, feel your breathing, and feel who you are. Let your thoughts flow through your mind like pictures on a movie screen, flickering and passing on. Gently, lovingly, let each thought go. Ahhhh!

A Yoga Minute

Patanjali was an Indian sage who, thousands of years ago, wrote a text called the Yoga Sutra, which recorded concepts that had been passed down orally for many years. This influential text, which consists of a series of aphorisms about how to practice yoga, has helped to define the modern practice of yoga.

A Yoga Minute

Patanjali was an Indian sage who, thousands of years ago, wrote a text called the Yoga Sutra, which recorded concepts that had been passed down orally for many years. This influential text, which consists of a series of aphorisms about how to practice yoga, has helped to define the modern practice of yoga.

So why should your mind be any different? It isn't a perpetual motion machine. If you don't learn how to calm and still your mind, it's bound to need some loving care and maintenance. We're not saying that if you don't meditate, you'll go nuts (though it's possible!). What we're saying is that a neglected mind is one that doesn't work as well as it could. Meditation is mental maintenance. Teaching yourself how to relax your mind and release it from the stress of thought for a short period each day keeps it clear and clean. You'll think better. You'll see more accurately and with more insight. You'll be able to concentrate and focus on things like never before. You'll be able to truly relax. In fact, you'll probably be amazed at the mind power you never knew you had.

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