Lotus Meditation

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Dwelling in the Lotus Heart: A Meditation Practice

In yoga and meditation, the heart can be visualized as a lotus flower unfolding at the center of the chest. Like a lotus that contracts and opens according to the light, our spiritual heart can be awakened through various yoga practices from asana practice to Pranayama, chanting, and meditation.

The following meditation focuses the awareness on the seat of one’s lotus heart. For some, this will be a very natural sanctum to rest the awareness. Others may observe that the restless nature of the mind does not subside so easily. This meditation serves two purposes: First, to learn to focus the mind on any object as an internal seat, and second, to receive the healing benefits of being connected to the heart as a place of unconditional love.

To begin, find a comfortable posture for meditation (seated on a cushion or blanket, in a chair, or against a wall). You may find it helpful to set a timer for 10, 20, or 30 minutes so you can deepen your meditation without wondering about the time. You may also want to gently ring a bell at the beginning and end of your meditation.ADVERTISEMENT

Place your hands on your knees in Jnana Mudra (index and thumb touching), with palms facing up to open your awareness or palms facing down to calm the mind. Scan your body and relax any tension. Let your spine rise from the base of the pelvis. Draw your chin slightly down and let the back of your neck lengthen. Now plant the seeds for meditating on the lotus of the heart.

Meditation Practice

Step 1

Begin by quietly reading this passage from the Upanishads:

“Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart.

Everything that moves, breathes, opens, and closes lives in the Self-the source of love.

Realize the Self hidden in the heart and cut asunder the knot of ignorance here and now.”

—The Upanishads (Translated by Elnath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, 1987)

Step 2

As you inhale, draw your awareness from the base of the pelvis to the center of the chest. As you exhale, concentrate on the sensations that you feel in your chest. Stay with those sensations and allow your awareness to deepen. Do you feel heat, tingling, lightness, density, tightness? As you inhale, breathe into your heart.

Step 3

Begin to visualize a lotus flower inside your chest that is gently spreading its petals open with each inhalation. And as you exhale, just dwell inside the lotus flower. (Note: If visualizing a lotus flower is too poetic for you, an alternative is to focus on a cave in the heart with a flame in the center, or a fire illuminating your heart.)

Step 4

You may choose to stay with visualization of the lotus or you may focus on the sensation of an expanding heart. When feelings arise, allow them to pass through you like the changing light of the day, or imagine them resting on the flower like water on its petals. Dwell inside the lotus of your heart, feeling the qualities of unconditional love emerge.

Step 5

When you are ready, bring your hands together in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) and complete your meditation with a moment of gratitude, reflection, or prayer to integrate the energy of your meditation into your life. You can bring your awareness to your heart anytime throughout the day to come back to the seat of unconditional love.By Shiva Rea

Open Lotus Heart Meditation

Mudra: Bring your hands into an open Lotus Mudra in front of the Heart Center. The base of the palms come together. The first digits of the pinkie fingers and the thumbs touch their corresponding fingers along the sides. The remaining fingers are straight and spread open, much like a lotus in bloom. The palms face each other are open to the heavens.

Many feelings will pass through you as your Heart Center strengthens and old wounds begin to melt into the sound current. Once hardened parts of your heart and old defenses will begin to drop away. Trust yourself. Immerse yourself in the presence of the open heart. We are most aligned with our real Self when we have the strength to stay open and connected to all people, everything and everyone in the Universe. It is in this contentedness that we realize our uniqueness. Be real and be present as you chant and dwell in the sound current

The Lotus pose

I was 15 years old and at the local swimming baths, when I saw, for the first time, a living human being sitting in the Lotus pose. A young woman, quickly and with ease, placed her legs over each other. I was filled with awe and surprise. Although I had already read about it, I was convinced, up to that very moment, that the Lotus pose was reserved for a few people only – and hardly possible for ordinary people.

Together with the Headstand, the Lotus pose probably is the best known yoga pose. In one way or another, most people have either heard or read about it. The legs are crossed in such a way that the feet are placed on the thighs, the hands are resting on the knees and you sit with a straight spine. Padmasana, which the Lotus pose is called in Sanskrit, is one of the classical meditation poses.

Why a meditation pose?

When you want to meditate, it is important to be able to sit still, upright and relaxed for a certain length of time. When the body is held motionless and stable, it becomes relaxed and the mind begins to calm down which is a precondition for going deeper.

Naturally, it is not mandatory to sit in the Lotus pose in order to meditate. It is important, however, that you can sit still for a period, without having to worry about the body. To achieve that, there are also more simple poses which anyone (including the untrained) can use without difficulty. In some meditations, e. g. when you begin practising Inner Silence, you can also sit on a high-backed chair or even in an armchair as long as you sit comfortably and upright. On the other hand, when you want to go deeper (in Inner Silence) or work with your psychic energy in meditations like Ajapa Jap or Kriya Yoga, it is necessary to learn one of the genuine meditation poses since the posture has an effect in itself.

The Lotus pose

Once having learned to master the Lotus pose, you have the benefit of being able to sit motionless and effortless for long periods of time. In other poses, like the normal cross-legged position, the upper body easily sags and becomes tired. In a real meditation pose like the Lotus pose on the other hand, one can learn to avoid restlessness and muscular tensions. It could be argued that one could lie much more comfortably on the back in the dead-still pose (Savasana) as one does in different types of relaxation. Relaxation and calmness in the body, however, is only a small part of the overall effect of the Lotus pose.

Energy

In the spinal cord, the passages of the central nervous system connect the brain with the rest of the body. All parts of the body are controlled through these passages. The upright and undisturbed position of the spine in Padmasana is important in order for the nerve impulses to flow freely during meditation.

These nerve paths, together with the brain, are surrounded by a protective membrane within which the so called cerebrovascular fluid flows. This fluid nurtures the nerve endings and the brain – the Lotus pose provides an optimal condition for its flow. (A chiropractor will in many cases treat diseases by removing blockages in the flow of the cerebrovascular fluid.)

When we go on to a finer dimension, to the psychic energy, then, in the spinal cord, we find the energy flows Ida, Pin-gala and Shushumna, the three most important passages in the network of our psychic energy. They should not be mistaken for our nervous system, although closely connected with it. Today’s science confirms that man only makes use of a fraction of his brain capacity. Within the yoga tradition, however, the breathing exercises and meditations (i.e. Kriya Yoga) are known to stimulate and awaken the energy and, through its flows, awaken the dormant parts of the brain. It is therefore crucial to use a real meditation pose – it ensures that the energy generated during the meditation is directed into its proper paths and that a harmonic expansion of consciousness is taking place.

Better fitness through sitting still?

The classical yoga script, Gheranda Samhita, names the Lotus pose “the destroyer of all diseases” – and it surely has a good number of healing effects.

The following medical survey took place in 1975 under the direction of the Indian doctor, Professor Sal-gar. Her research team compared a group of people who, over a six-months period, were sitting in the Lotus pose daily (without using any kind of additional meditation or relaxation technique), to another group, who over the same length of time, followed a traditional fitness training programmer with weight lifting, spring ex-panders etc. A third group of people, who were not doing any such activity, constituted the control group.

The researcher determined, for one thing, that the oxygen in the body was better utilized in the Lotus pose. Before and after the six-months period, all participants were exposed to a fitness test. As one might expect, the physical fitness training group obtained a clearly improved efficiency; but so did, surprisingly enough, the group who had “only” been sitting in the Lotus pose.

Under a heavy load, which demanded great muscular strength, the physical fitness training group showed the best results. However, under normal strain, the Lotus group surpassed the physical fitness group. Even though there had been no actual muscle growth, the Lotus pose people were better able to make efficient use of their strength. The control group showed no changes whatsoever.

With her findings, Professor Sal-gar was able to show that merely sitting in the Lotus pose has a positive influence on the metabolism and on the overall body fitness, which was significantly improved.

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