The term meditation can be used in various ways in yoga.
However it is important to remember that techniques are just that, simply tools to help bring about the end result
of a higher level of awareness, eventually leading into the final goal of yoga - samadhi or bliss. Patanjali listed meditation - dhyana, at number seven on his list of eight limbs, or steps of yoga;
following the development of the practices of pranayama - breath control, pratyahara - sense withdrawal, and dharana - becoming
focused, or concentrating.
Meditation is a fundamental aspect of all schools and paths of yoga. Even in the west, where the physical aspects of yoga tend to be the headline catchers, most people who
become involved in yoga, begin to incorporate ways of meditation into their yoga lilfe.
Meditation is catagorised in various ways. Sometimes it is divided into
meditation with a formal method, or with an object of meditation (saguna), and the formless or without seed (nirguna)
Saguna - formal meditation techniques, often include
simple, or at times elaborate, ritual and visualisation. Because there is something
for the yogi to focus on, this method is said to be most suitable for beginners, and often follows on naturally from concentration
exercises on objects or specific thoughts of concentration.
For example, the following starting points can be used In
all cases the aim is for the ego to be lost in the developing awareness and the unity between self and observed.
Candle gazing - gazing at the tip of the flame.
Yantra - using a ritual pattern of shapes with a centre.
A picture of your god.
Aum / Om - looked at, or repeated orally as a -
Mantra - a word or sentencs of significance, which may be in
Japa - repeating the mantra, sometimes with the help of a mala,
orally, whispered or silently.
Breath observation - often linked with Japa.
In addition repetetive movement can also be used, such as the
dance of the Whirling Dervishes, and modern Trance or
Techniques of this kind can at times be seen as an obstacle to their intended result. Where the mind remains in control of the procedure, the final loss of the ego, and obliteration of awareness
of the self cannot take place.
Nirguna meditation, without a starting seed is much
more difficult for the average person. Here the
mind is calmed by the practice of dharana (concentration), and is then cleared of all directed thought, i.e. emptied,
giving space for the achievement of samadhi. Even here however the meditatior
may still strive to maintain control, even if only to keep the mind clear.
The experience cannot be guaranteed. For some it will
be acieved easily, for others it may never be achieved. Only time and practice