Yoga wellness educator. Certified to teach Hatha yoga, meditation, pilates, and Reiki. Oracle card reader. Yoga Therapy Foundations program.
Meditation is a technique to calm the mind, but it is not a one-size-fits-all method. Various kinds of meditation techniques work for different people at different times in their lives. According to Ayurveda, the best meditation approach is the one that is in line with your body constitution.
Ayurveda is a practical science of life with principles relevant to each person’s everyday life. It uses examination techniques, analysis, and treatments to promote health and longevity using herbal remedies and other practical aspects of maintaining health.
Ayurveda upholds that our basic constitution is determined at the moment we are conceived.
Which Body Constitution Are You?
Ayurvedic medicine views the human body as expressions of cosmic energy expressed in the five basic elements of air, fire, water, earth, and ether. Air is associated with the sense of touch, fire with the sense of sight, water with a sense of taste, the earth with a sense of smell, and ether with the sense of hearing (Lad 1984).
These five basic elements manifest in the body of a person as three basic principles called Tridosha or the three energies.
- Vata dosha comes from the elements of air and ether;
- Pitta dosha comes from the elements of fire and water, and
- Kapha dosha comes from the elements of water and earth. There are combinations of these three energies.
The three energies of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha govern all the biological, psychological, and physiopathological functions of the body, mind, and consciousness.
Ayurveda recommends adapting your meditation technique or method to your health and physical state.
Mental rejuvenation involves calming the mind. A peaceful and meditative mind helps to support good health and longevity. You ‘witness’ all your mental activities, thoughts, and emotions while being detached from them.
One approach that Ayurveda recommends is to be ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world. You observe your attachments to find out which ones are causing you stress. If you want a happy and long life, you strive to live a life without attachment because attachment is the cause of suffering.
Some people feel opposed to the concept of detachment because they connect it with a lack of love. In fact, loving without attachment means loving without being dependent or needy. Love is freely and intentionally giving yourself to the other person, people, or cause.
Meditate According to Your State of Being
Sutras 1.2 to 1.3 “Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodha” is one of the most cited sutras in yoga. It means “Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness.”
According to the Yoga Sutras text attributed to Patanjali —a great sage of Ancient India— by separating thoughts from the observer of the thoughts, we can have a more complete experience. For some people, the act of observing one’s thoughts is difficult because they are not able to observe thoughts as distinct from their own observing awareness. In this state, the flow of thoughts controls the person.
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Observing your thoughts means you become a witness of your thoughts without engaging with them.
Being the observer is more than observing how you think about yourself or your behaviors. It is a different state of mind. Whatever you are doing —be it meditation, mindfulness practices, therapy, or other personal development work— becoming the observer is an essential skill to have so you can make personal changes.
Observing your self implies that you are aware of subtle emotions, inclinations, motivations, feelings in your body, and behaviors.
Many of our behaviors, emotions, and impulses are automatic, and keep our attention so engaged that we do not have any strength left to notice when they occur. This will make us react before detecting the sensation or the thought that caused a reaction. When we react, we fail to notice.
When we become used to observing our mental activities, we improve our ability to be the observer when we unexpectedly face inconvenient situations. This is the reason we are encouraged to meditate regularly. If we do not meditate regularly, we might not remember to observe mental activity when we need this ability most. Regular meditation helps us to be prepared.
Meditating on Thoughts
When we meditate on thoughts, we use our thoughts as objects.
For most of us, thoughts are an integrated part of our life. We might think that thoughts direct our actions, but with a closer look we see that thoughts come and go all the time. Some thoughts are deliberate, whilst others are not. When we pay attention, we see that thoughts rise and fall on their own without us guiding them and without our desire to have them.
Thoughts have power on us because of their influence on our physical body and mental health. Whenever you have a thought such as “I can do it”, your body reacts by discharging hormones that influence your nervous system. For instance, when you think you are in danger, your body produces cortisol to get you ready to fight or flee. When you picture yourself feeling relaxed, your body produces oxytocin and serotonin, feel-good hormones that makes you feel at ease.
If you can change your thinking or shift your perspective so that your thoughts become more positive, your body will react by helping you feel optimistic and connected to the world around you.
Changing your thoughts takes focus, self-discipline, and the right attitude. If you run from your thoughts, they will run after you, catch up with you, and might disturb you. The action that is most likely to succeed is to be ready to face them.
Questions and Answers
What is the meaning of Vritti?
Vritti is a technical term in yoga to show that the substance of mental awareness is a variety of emotions, feelings, and sensations that cause turbulence in consciousness. (Wikipedia)
Can you meditate on a thought?
You can use the practice of meditating on thoughts in everyday life any time you catch yourself in a negative thinking pattern. Take time to observe a particular thought, image, or memory, and notice where and how it impacts your mind and your body.
- Close your eyes and notice what is going through your mind.
- Now step back from your thoughts and try to connect with the observer aspect of yourself. The observer is not the mind.
- Try this exercise the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation. When you stop identifying with your thoughts and notice the observer, does it diffuse the stress?
Lad, V. “Ayurveda The Science of Self-Healing” (1984) pp. 23-25.
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.