Yoga Wellness Educator. Certified to teach Hatha Yoga, Meditation, Pilates, Reiki. Yoga Therapy Foundations program. I love to write.
3) Meditation as per Andre Van Lysebeth
Andre Van Lysebeth was a Belgian yoga instructor who wrote extensively on yoga.
He believed that for our meditation to succeed, we must replant our roots in the cosmos. A most depressing feeling for human beings is the sense of isolation in the small ‘me’, the small self. “The small self is isolated from others, an island in a strange universe.”
When people live as if they are locked in their own universe, locked in their mind, they lose touch with the living forces of the universe. By ‘living forces’, he meant the very dynamism of life.
Our bodies should be limber, strong, energetic, and radiating with health. Being healthy is more than the absence of disease and ill-ease.
Many of us have bodies that are delicate, rigid, mal-nourished, and badly ventilated. Our bodies are badly ventilated because not only we do not breathe optimally, but also because we live in overly heated confined spaces.
Our organism is vibrant with life and psyche. We are to feel this rather than to think and intellectualize it. This ‘feeling’ element is essential in meditation.
How to Animate Your Meditation
Van Lysebeth taught that to infuse meditation with life, we benefit from creating emotions intentionally. Creating emotions can be done when we avoid making a rational and intellectual construction. It would be helpful if we go into our body, feel the blood pulsing, the warmth of our internal body, and observe life. A human body is a microcosm and a cosmic event at the same time.
It is a matter of listening to the secret life of our bodies which is the real life.
In the absolute stillness created when we meditate, awareness of the breath and the blood pulsations quickly awakens. The breath and the blood are the integrative elements of our physical body.
When we think of life, we must think about the life of the body as much as our daily routine of work, travel, and leisure. What happens in the external world is important as it influences our inner life.
For the yogis who subscribe to the Samkhya philosophy, “life is a property of the universe, same as gravity, magnetism, time, and space. ...”
Even if you feel unhappy with your health and the state of your body, you must meditate and go through the preliminary stages. With time and regular practice of meditation, you will notice the rise of a feeling of intimacy between your body and the ‘me’ that is registered in your intellect. And you will love life, the life of your body.
This aspect of meditation reconciles us with our individual life. It also connects us to energies that exceed our limited individuality to link us to the enduring cosmic life.
Many of us split yoga from meditation. In today’s modern world, meditation classes are separate from yoga sessions.
Meditation is not to be practised without a physical discipline. Yoga movements and techniques were put in place by yogis as effective physiological techniques that allow us to get results with the least possible loss of time.
Working on our physical bodies with yoga poses and breathing techniques-pranayama-is essential to the integrative work of meditation.
Importance of Posture
The deeper and longer you want to go into meditation and inner study, the more the environment and the posture aspects become important.
A balanced and comfortable posture wil allow you to forget your body. Any imperfection in your posture while you meditate might create discomfort.
The discomfort could be in the spinal column especially the neck area, or in the knees. Discomfort and pain are an obstacle to meditation.
The postures we take in meditation were not chosen at random. They were figured out by the lengthy practical experiences of yogis.
In esoteric science, it is believed that in the cosmic mind, certain physical postures are connected to specific spiritual states. They have been practised for so long that the simple fact of sitting in a specific yoga pose will grant you certain cosmic vibrations.
Yoga Posture for Meditation
If you find a meditation pose that works for you, keep using it. It becomes linked in your subconscious mind to the meditation act and predisposes you to stabilize yourself in your preferred yogic pose.
Start with assessing the position of your body in space. Assess the position of your arms, legs, fingers, trunk on both the right and the left sides, your head, and the back and front of your body. This will take for one to two minutes.
Many meditation methods start with observing the breath. Notice the rhythm and the lung capacity of your breathing without interfering or trying to change them. If your attention falters, bring it back gently to observing.
The transition from inhaling to exhaling happens freely without constraints. If your position is correct, your body will be at ease and balanced giving you a feeling of lightness.
Do not grieve for what is lost,
do not moan on the past
do not worry about what is lost, or what is happening.
The sage ignores regrets,
and this is what distinguishes
the wise from the fool.
Center of Gravity of the Breath
Move the centre of gravity of breathing to the centre of gravity of the body.
This phase comes right after observing the natural breathing described above. To do so, it is necessary to deepen your breath, and to influence it directly. The centre of gravity of the body is in the lower abdomen, about five centimeters below your navel.
Notice how the diaphragm flattens (drops down) each time you inhale. The diaphragm, found below the lungs, is the major breathing muscle. It is shaped like a dome. This muscle contracts continually in a pattern, and most of the time involuntarily. When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts and flattens and the chest cavity enlarges.
When the diaphragm flattens, it puts pressure on the guts under it and at this center of convergence, which gives the impression that the air enters the lower abdomen and comes up against a resistance. This is what you must become aware of: that the weight of your trunk is placed in the same place as the center of convergence of the effort of the diaphragm as it flattens with each inhalation. This is where you must let your breath lean.
By careful inner observation, you will quickly see the relationship of these two points that do not correspond to any specific anatomic structure.
Breathing is the only movement in the body that is allowed during meditation.
When you meditate, you become like a statue that breathes. Any physical movement during meditation is discouraged. If you feel a physical sensation that you cannot ignore, do not move. Simply bring your attention to the physical sensation itself. Observe the sensation and how it is going to be. Usually the sensation fades and it does not take long for the mind to lose interest. Keep sitting still and let your attention go to any sensation that you feel might force you to move.
When you observe your breath, your observation is not limited to the movement of the diaphragm, but also to the entry point and exit point of the breath —your nostrils. Feel the fresh air come into each nostril and the warm air leave the nostrils.
This movement is subtle, and as the stillness of your body is extended, the breath becomes even more subtle. The finer these movements are, the more they absorb the mind.
How to Prepare for Meditation
You must bring the most favorable conditions to meditate.
Classic meditation texts encourage meditating at dawn, the most opportune time to meditate. This is when Nature often is the quietest. This is when the mind is most easily controlled, and slumber is least likely to happen..
For short meditations of 10 to 30 minutes, meditating in the evening is fine.
Ideally, the moment you wake up, you wash yourself, then do your yoga practice session followed by pranayama then meditation.
An ideal place for meditation is a room that is dedicated to meditation, to isolate the meditator from the world for a short period of time.
Obstacles to Meditation
- Ending the practice
- Improper diet
- Drowsiness and laziness
- Unfavorable environment
- Lethargy and depression
- Undesirable company
- Useless conversation, gossip, fault-finding
- Self-justification, obstinacy, dissimulation and lying
- Strong negative emotions such as anger, frequent irritation, fear, hatred
- Discouragement and lack of faith
- Loss of control of the senses
- Infatuation and attachment
- The mind itself
- Facing the void
Andre Van Lysebeth claimed that if you regularly practise concentration and meditation, psychic powers are sure to come.
In ancient Egypt, a whole ceremony was devoted to preparing one for meditation.
A room was reserved for meditation, silent, isolated, and well-ventilated. Only meditators were allowed in. Incense was lit. Meditators took a bath before starting and wore a white tunic reserved just for meditation. Eating was not allowed before meditation, only a few sips of water were allowed. Then meditation would start.
Van Lysebeth, A. Yoga revue mensuelle (November 1973 pp. 14-25; October 1974).
- 3 Different Approaches to Meditation (1 of 2)
Different types of meditation have different benefits. Some of them will work for you more than others. Here are three approaches to meditating.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liliane Najm (author) from Toronto, Canada on September 27, 2020:
Thanks bhattuc, Having different approaches to meditation gives people a choice and make life interesting.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 26, 2020:
These articles, including the part-1, give a good account of meditation and are very useful for the beginners as well as the regulars. Thanks.