Two years ago on Ramaswami's course I was taught Japa ( Mantra) meditation. It can be argued that the idea/image/content behind the mantra is less important than being able to keep the mind focused on the mantra itself, as such any mantra or object of meditation can be used, Ekagrata Parinamah, one-pointedness is the goal. This was appealing as I tended to feel that Vipassana as mindfulness was becoming more ....psychologised, which is perhaps a little unfair, more a case of needing to separate out the different discourses on my part.
My favourite and own intro to Mindfulness meditation is/was by Gil Frondsal and I'd still recommend it.
So I explored Japa meditation for a year but missed aspects of my Vipassana practice (a broader awareness if that makes sense) so switched back again.
Currently I tend to include ten minutes Japa (mantra) meditation as an exercise in one-pointedness following my asana and pranayama practice and try and include a regular Vipassana sit in the evening.
As it happens I tend to practice my shorter Japa/Mantra mediation after pranayama and following my Ashtanga practice and save my longer Vipassana/Mindfulness mediation for after a shorter pranayama and shorter Vinyasa Krama asana practice. This is because I'm hotter and sweatier after ashatang, who wants to sit for 20-40 minutes. You can see that some of my struggles with organising my practice outlined in this blog have been more a question of logistics, which combination at which time of day at which time of year (warmer colder weather).
I should add that Ramaswami taught us that asana gets rid of the Rajas (agitation), pranayama the tamas (lethargy) putting us in the most satvic, ideal state for meditation practice. This is why I like to practice meditation directly after pranayama and asana rather than before asana or at a separate time altogether.
|Having my cake and eating it (made this one last night)|
but anyway, here's the excerpt from the article...
Hatha Yoga Should Be Practiced as Raja Yoga
Interview with Richard Freeman
Excerpt (for full article click on title above)
'Kateryna: Many Western teachers start giving meditation of Vipasana, a Buddhist Meditation, while traditional Indian yoga has it’s of meditation techniques. What can be the reason, when we cannot align asana, pranayama, and meditation into one lineage?
Richard: I think maybe it's fine. Because if you are going to practice meditation in Hindu lineage you are probably going to be chanting a specific mantra that goes around a Deity, in other words you have to believe in Deity, and you would have to go very deeply into that specific technique to get to deeper stages of meditation. In Buddhist tradition they are much more skilled in teaching meditation just for what it is, so it's much more in line with the way that Yoga Sutra teach this meditation. So, I think, the introduction of Buddhist meditation techniques into the basically Hindu yoga is cool. It's actually good, because I think it's like a revival or reawakening of Hindu or Indian philosophy through the Buddhist practices. I have a friend, who says that Buddhism is really Hinduism that has been simplified down so that it could be exported, so that anyone could do it because you become free, free of your religious believes. And from my experience Buddhists have practices that are really simple, very row, and it really helps. I am very grateful to my Buddhist teacher. So, if people really want to get into a deep and grounded meditation, probably the best thing for them is the Buddhist teacher, or someone that had been influenced by Indian or Hindu teachers and that have been through revivalism understanding of a Buddhist tradition.
Kateryna: Is it true only for the Western people, or is it good for any mentality?
Richard: It goes through all over. Basically Hatha yoga practices are Tantric practices and so the meditation on mantra is Tantric, because it makes you meditate on a specific sound or a specific form. And this is all well and good except for if you do not understand the greater context, the greater picture, it does not really get underneath your ego structure, it does not get to you to see the way, how your mind works. And so the basis of mindful practice and the basis of higher meditation described in Sutras allows you to watch your mind, how it constructs the thoughts, constructs problems. I think, where these two traditions meet each other that's where you get into this stage in fact. Just the same way a lot of Buddhists are very interested in Hatha yoga, because that's not a very developed part of their tradition or it is kind of a lost part of it. I think, in general, the Hindu tradition needs to bring those Buddhist brothers and sisters back. And the same thing with any two religious groups – if they communicate, they learn from each other; they all have weak sides, weak points'.
Interview: Kateryna Degtyar.
*For more on Richard freeman and his upcoming workshop in London see my post from yesterday