The seventh limb of yoga is dhyana, or meditation, a practice of continuous focus. Dhyana is the middle stage of tuning inward to discover true self. It builds off of the sixth limb of yoga, dharana/focus, and leads to the eighth limb of yoga, samadhi/ nirvana.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”-Zen Proverb
Dhyana Exercise: If you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend a quick body scan meditation. Set aside 5-10 minutes (it will go by really quickly!) for this exercise. Settle into a comfortable sitting position and gently close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths as you transition into stillness. Now, bring all your attention to your feet. Notice any sensations that arise. Just observe what it feels like to have all your focus on your feet. Once you feel focused, begin to bring that awareness up the legs into the ankles and calves, noticing what that feels like. You can imagine that you are cleansing every cell of your body from the inside out, and using your breath to move the stagnant energy. Eventually, at your own pace, you will make your way up through every body part, noticing whatever sensations/thoughts/emotions present themselves. Do not judge or criticize yourself if you find this practice hard or become distracted – just return to your breath and body. You will notice that peripheral distractions gradually fade away as you become more in tune with your body, mind and spirit.
Dhyana can really be brought into any aspect of your life, whether you are sitting still or running wild. Crafting, writing, even doing dishes can be a meditative practice for some people. The key is to keep a continuous focus on whatever you are doing. As with everything else in life, the more you practice, the easier it will become.
Comment below and share your story with meditation. Does it play a role in your life? When are your favorite times to meditate, and why?
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Try this 30 minute body scan meditation from the pro himself, Jon Kabat-Zinn.