If you landed here because you were searching for meditation classes in Hertford – you’ve probably read or heard of meditation as a means of relaxation, improving mental health or even productivity at work. Don’t worry this post isn’t going to be about how meditation can make everything in your life better, instead I’ll go into some detail on the type of meditation that you can expect when you come to Yoga and Meditation at the Mill Bridge Rooms, Hertford.
Yoga and meditation are in fact the same thing. When we don our lycra and unfurl a yoga mat we’re practicing Asana (postures). Curiously this activity of manipulating ourselves into certain positions aligns with a sacred geometry around us and we tap into a wider resource, a network of energy that enlivens and chills us out. Over time it prepares our body to be able to sit still for longer and longer.
During class there are 3 or 4 occasions when the group will move from activity to seated meditation.
The meditation technique you will be practicing centers on narrowing our field of sensation to a certain point on the body. We then sit and breathe, pointing our attention on the breath. Students are encouraged to let the flow of thoughts and impressions flow without interjecting. Naturally one will dip in and out of focus. Over time we learn to catch ourselves sooner and sooner. The longer one is able to sit in this state of ‘no mind’ the deeper the experience becomes.
What is meditation?
You may think that after over 30 years of practicing meditation one would be able to say in precise terms what it is and what happens when one meditates. The truth is that it is in fact incredibly difficult to put one’s experiences or even what the end goal of it is into words. Could it be that there is no end goal? That we simply give ourself an opportunity to experience our endlessly changing self moment by moment.
At a recent anatomy and Yoga workshop, I was astounded to hear from one of the guest speakers, a surgeon; that medical science is at a loss to explain how the body heals itself. Meditation is similar in that it is beyond comprehension. The opening passages of the Tao Te Ching state:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The tao that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
(The Tao Te Ching is a beautiful exposition on Taoism written over 1,500 years ago. Read a free online translation here: acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/taote-v3.html)
An ephemeral truth, fleeting and leaving a residue of peaceful calm… occasionally. The more one tries to hold on to the experience the finer and more subtle it becomes until it evaporates and one is back into the ceaseless flow of mental abstraction. Back on automatic pilot.
Our role is not to chase after the experience, to have a blissed out high from which we can return to our stressful activities with renewed vigor. Instead, we sit and wait for the experience to come to us. By delaying our judgment a yawning gap of indeterminate time opens, as we drop deeper within somehow we become connected to the space around us. And all we’re doing is sitting and keeping our mind occupied by following our breathing. It is truly amazing, beautiful and humbling to sit with a disparate group of people radiating their personal interpretation of this universal calm.
Classically the purpose of postural Yoga is to sharpen our mind enough to let its intelligence take over. There are many related benefits to the practitioners’ health, but a clear, single-pointedness of self is the highest aim. And this is why Yoga and meditation are such good friends.
You are free to choose, but if you’d like to try it out contact me here and drop into a class on Wednesday or Friday evening.
Osho was a spiritual teacher and controversial figure, iconoclastic and lauded at the same time. Not advocating him in anyway but I do like this definition of meditation.