Meditation is a complementary practice to the practice of Yoga.
If I say meditation, you are maybe thinking of a person sitting cross-legged, still who seems to have no thoughts. However, for me it is quite the opposite!
To meditate is to realize that we are thinking beings and that thoughts are constantly present in our mind. By becoming aware of it, we are able to detach ourselves from it, to realize that these are thoughts and not the truth. We are not our thoughts, just as we are not our emotions.
I share here my experience of meditation, it is my reference and I know that it can be different for each of you. I invite you to make your own experience of meditation.
What is the principle ?
According to Patanjali, the meditative state can be reached by following the last 4 stages of the yogi's journey : Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi .
Pratyahara or internalization of the senses;
The first step allows us to become aware of what surrounds us or to be able to detach ourselves from it. For this step I start by becoming aware of all the sounds, smells, sensations linked to the environment where I am meditating. I tell myself then that I am safe. This sends a message of relaxation to my body and allows me to enter the meditative state.
Dharana or concentration;
Fixing your concentration on something specific allows you to focus and to detach from the thoughts. For this step I bring my attention to my breath, a candle, an object, etc. When my attention starts to wander again, I notice it and bring it back to my breath or the object again. The action of refocusing one's attention is essential. During some meditations one can have the impression of doing only that but it is by making this effort that one learns to move away from one's thoughts and to detach from them, very useful tools in everyday life.
Dhyana or meditation;
strictly speaking meditative state, strong connection to the present moment.
Samadhi or absolute consciousness, feeling of fullness;
this state is temporary.
In my opinion, a meditation is made up of cycles: Pratyahara - Dharana - Dhyana - Samadhi - Dharana - Dhyana - Samadhi etc.
How to meditate ?
The first thing I encountered when I started to meditate was the discomfort in my body from sitting still and cross-legged. The pain in the back or the tingling in the feet were sometimes such that it forced me to cut short my meditation. It was during my training as a Yoga teacher that I was able to use a bolster as a meditation support for the first time. And there, a miracle happened ! 30 minutes of painless meditation: straight back, no tingling in the feet, and no discomfort in the hips. For me it was a revelation. I realize that the cross-legged sitting posture works for some people, but not all. There are different types of cushions that can greatly improve your comfort during meditation and I recommend that you test them if you wish to expand your practice.
I also add that it is not necessary to be seated to meditate. One can meditate while walking, dancing, playing music, etc. The important thing is to be present and to bring awareness to what you are doing.
2. Guided or unguided
The easiest way to learn to meditate is to be guided. This allows you to focus your attention on words and sentences and let go of your mind more easily. I started to meditate using the Petit Bambou app. It offers small guided meditations of 10 to 20 minutes with themes. It's perfect for getting started because the programs offered are really guided, with one meditation per day, relatively quick and easy to integrate into the everyday schedule. This app offers free content and paid-for content. One point that I really like with this app is the Crisis option. This is a 3-minute mini-meditation that allows you to come back to the present moment and quickly refocus when facing a stressful situation.
Youtube is also a great source for finding guided meditations. For my part, I like to follow the meditations of Cédric Michel on youtube , but I advise you to go through youtube and to make your own experience. There are many people who offer meditations. Experiment with several and see which tones of voice and which words resonate best with you. There are also a lot of targeted meditations: inner child, letting go, emotions, etc. Don't hesitate to try them out.
I also invite you to try the Insight Timer app. This app brings together a lot of things: relaxing music, guided meditation, etc. As it is international, it provides access to meditations in many different languages. Finally, if you prefer not to be guided in your meditation, the application also offers the possibility of setting a meditation timer with different gongs and different soundscapes: set the duration and the ambient sound and let's go!