My next afternoon workshop is on Sunday 17 April 2016 2-5pm at the Lifecare Centre in Stockbridge, with the theme of self-compassion and self-care.

There are many kinds of meditation – but this is a simple yet profound practice I learned from my Sivananda Yoga teachers.


Introduction to Meditation from Swami Vishnu-Devananda (disciple of Swami Sivananda)

Meditation, like sleep, cannot be taught – it comes by itself, in its own time. But if you follow the right steps to begin with, you can speed up your progress considerably. To help people to understand the basic steps and stages of meditation, Swami Vishnu-Devananda formulated the Twelve Principles, summarized below. The most essential thing is to establish meditation as a regular habit in your life, using the same place and time each day. This will train your mind to respond without delay once you sit down to meditate – much as your stomach is conditioned to expect food at mealtimes. After a few months of regular practice you mind will begin to demand this quiet time of its own accord. The most auspicious times of day for meditation are at dawn and dusk, when the atmosphere is charged with spiritual energy. But if neither of these times is possible, simply choose a time when you can be alone and undisturbed. Start by practising for twenty minutes and gradually increase the time to an hour. Sit facing the East or North to benefit from the subtle effects of the earth’s magnetic field. You may want to wrap a blanket around yourself before you start so as to keep warm. It is most important that your sitting position is steady and relaxed, as your concentration will be disturbed if you are uncomfortable. Before beginning, instruct your mind to be silent and forget all thoughts of the past, present or future. Now regulate your breathing – this will control the flow of prana which in turn will help to still the mind. You should not attempt to combat the restlessness of your mind, as this will only generate more thought waves. Simply detach yourself from your thoughts and watch your mind.


The Twelve Principles of Meditation

  1. Set aside a special place for meditation – the atmosphere you build up will help still the mind.
  2. Choose  time when your mind is free of everyday concerns Рdawn and dusk are ideal.
  3. Using the same time and place each day conditions the mind to slow down more quickly.
  4. Sit with your back, neck and head in a straight line, facing North or East.
  5. Instruct your mind to remain quiet for the duration of your meditation session.
  6. Regulate your breathing – start with five minutes’ deep breathing, then slow it down.
  7. Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern – inhaling and exhaling for about three seconds.
  8. At first let your mind wander – it will only grow more restless if you force it to concentrate.
  9. Now bring the mind to rest on the focal point of your choice – either the Ajna (forehead) or Anahata (heart centre) Chakra. Stick to your chosen point once you’ve made your choice.
  10. Applying your chosen technique, hold your object of concentration at this focal point throughout your session.
  11. Meditation comes when you reach a state of pure thought, but still retain your awareness of duality.
  12. After long practice, duality disappears and samadhi, the superconscious state, is attained.