Teacher’s Corner: Understanding Meditation – Connecting the Dots

Teacher’s Corner is a blog series written by one of mang’Oh’s most experienced (and well-loved!) teachers, Chintamani Kansas. Chintamani also teaches and mentors in mang’Oh’s Teacher Training each year, and leads the yearly Meditation and Yoga Series at mang’Oh. We will be posting Teacher’s Corner every few months, featuring a detailed look at issues and topics that are of particular interest to yoga teachers and enthusiasts. We hope you will enjoy Chintamani’s wealth of experience, as well as her fun and witty look at the world of yoga teaching!

The true purpose of yoga—with or without “meditation”—is to find more balance, harmony, happiness and meaning in our lives. Yoga and meditation invite us to awaken to the depth of our experience as human beings. We are much more than physical bodies and workers. We are hearts and minds in a web of relationships. We are capable of great achievements and deep understanding.

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Life will never be perfect, but there are ways to direct the mind so we can suffer less, and enjoy our lives more. Often we have experiences of calm and happiness on the yoga mat. We can cultivate the same “letting go” and positive outlook in daily life, even when faced with challenges.

Meditation can be easy, pleasant, and joyful. If we approach it correctly.

Unfortunately, meditation is often taught as a nuts-and-bolts technique, in a short amount of time, without the background traditions that prepare the body and mind for meditation in the first place.

As busy adults, how do we spend most of our time?  Working, multitasking, planning, making lists, scheduling, networking, running around—and if you have kids, you are doing all those things with them, too.  And then there is also stress, anxiety, worry, and doubt running through our minds—even if we consider ourselves basically happy, these mind states touch all of us.  

When we spend 99% of our time on work and thinking, and 1% on relaxation and simply beingwhy do we sit down to meditate in a short amount of time and expect ourselves to immediately drop into a state of centered-awareness and bliss?  Of course we are going to feel distracted, fidgety and full of thoughts.  Of course we are going to be visited by our worries when we stop keeping ourselves busy and distracted. 

The struggle is real.  Our habitual thoughts physically change our brains and body chemistry, setting us up for repeated struggle.  Uncomfortable mental states are physical as well as mental. 

If you are looking to create more harmony, balance and happiness in your life, meditation is a great tool to help with that—but meditation was never meant to be practiced by itself.  Meditation is but one piece of a whole lifestyle.  The 8-fold Path of Patanjali teaches us to first take care of ourselves with movement and nutrition, before even attempting meditation.  Even more importantly, spend every day cultivating attributes such as kindness, compassion, contentedness, presence and letting go.  Every moment we can, throughout the day we should be “meditating on” these qualities that are already within us.  This will make the mind more calm and joyful.  Even if you decide not to take up a formal meditation practice, this daily groundwork will lead to a happier life as you learn to refine your joy and redirect the mind towards contentment and acceptance. 

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Interested in combining yoga and meditation? Check out our Meditation Series in November! Series includes 3 weeks of free yoga classes!

Chintamani teaches classic and specialty yoga in New York City. She continues to study yoga, yoga therapy and other healing modalities, including Anatomy, Pilates and Mindfulness Meditation. Chintamani is certified in Vinyasa Yoga, Embodied Anatomy and Yoga and Kane School Pilates.

Chintamani’s classes blend mindfulness, alignment and joyful movement; encouraging safety and skillfulness, as well as freedom and expression. Chintamani’s mission is to get us all to move, breathe, find our joy, and feel connected and smart.