Preksha Meditation and Health
"Dhyana " means the concentration of mind on one object. At any given point of time the mind is said to work on a lot things, places, persons etc. however when the mind is made to detach itself from all these distractions and focused on one entity then concentration is said to occur. According to Hatayoga, Dhyana (meditation) is the most important gate to attaining Samadhi(eternal happiness). The ultimate aim of Yoga is to attain Samadhi.
Samadhi is that state of mind where there is only eternal happiness, there is no pain or sorrow and all beings look only for happiness. When Dhyana happens it takes ultimately the form of Samadhi, or ultimate and eternal happiness. From ancient times a lot of methods of Dhyana came to be practiced, one amongst them is Preksha meditation. It means "see thyself" here seeing does not mean external vision, but a concentrated impartial perception, subtle consciousness by mental insight. Preksha is derived from the Sanskrit word "Pra + iksha" which means to observe carefully. The mind never relaxes even when we sleep. Through Preksha the mind is given auto-suggestion to relax. It is true that breaking the thought process is extremely difficult however it is not impossible. When the mind is constantly studied it becomes all the more restless. In Preksha Dhyana no thought is forcefully stopped. Instead the art of merely observing the thought process without forming any reaction or attaching the self to it is developed. By doing so thoughts themselves cease to come. So the technique of Preksha is a practical way and a powerful instrument for establishing the restless mind.
Preksha Dhyana is the technique of meditation for bringing about a change in behavior, modifying and bringing about an integrated development of personality. It is based on the wisdom of ancient philosophy and has been formulated in terms of modern scientific concept.
Following are the various types of Preksha meditation
Svasa Preksha ( means the awareness of breaths)
Breathing and exhaling is an automatic action of the body. With some practice we can increase the duration of the time in between the breaths also we can lower the count of our breaths. The practice of Svasa Preksha causes amazing results not only on the neuro system but also on the internal organs. When the breathing rate is regular the efficacy of the mind gets increased.
Sharira Preksha (perception of the body)
In Sharira Preksha the various organs and body parts are observed minutely one-by -one with closed eyes. The mind studies the whole body from the top of the head to the toes of the feet and all the body parts are focused on. The vibrations occurring on them blood circulation, biological functions are studied. Merely by observing the mind gets so sharp that it gets the healing power.
Chetanya Kendra Preksha(perception of the physique centers)
Preksha of various glands, endocrine system is called Chetanya Kendra Preksha. Our body is sorrounded by an electro-magnetic field. There are specific zones in our body that are prone to these electro magnetic fields. Once we concentrate on these parts of our body through Chetanya Kendra Preksha we will be able to overcome our anger fears and endless worries. By meditating at the naval region our adrenaline glands get activated.
It is difficult to define the sweetness of sugar without actually ever tasting it, it is difficult to learn swimming without going into the depths of water so also it is difficult to explain Dhyana without ever experiencing it. So we have to learn the technique of meditation with the help of some experienced experts. Preksha Dhyana can be learnt and practiced by anybody, normally a ten day camp is a suitable means to acquire a basic training.
For merely relaxing oneself from tension and fatigue 15-20 minutes are sufficient. For a successful meditation session no fixed time can be prescribed. The practitioner has to look at his convenience and the purpose.
Posture is an important feature of the exercise. The practitioner must remain quiet, motionless and alert for the duration of the exercise. Strain or discomfort must be avoided during the session. Any of the following postures may be chosen-
Mudra-The position of the practitioners hands is called Mudra.
Keep your right hand on your right knee and likewise your left hand on the left knee, palms facing upwards. Touch the index fingers to the tips of the thumb. Keeping the spine and back upright keep the eyes closed lightly.
Relaxation (Kayotsarg) For a successful session of meditational practice, it is necessary to relax the whole body tension.
Concentrate your mind on each part of the body from the toe to the head part by part one by one.
Allow each part of the body to relax by the process of auto suggestion and feel that it has become relaxed.
An internal journey(Antaryatra)
This exercise promotes better generation of the nervous energy which is essential for the subsequent meditation practice.
Maintain the posture focus your full attention on the bottom of the spine called the Sakti Kendra direct it to travel along the spinal cord to the top of the head-Jnana Kendra. When you reach the top, direct it to move downwards taking the same path until you reach Sakti kendra again. Repeat the exercise for about 5-7 minutes.
With complete awareness notice the life energy and the vibrations occurring in the back of the spinal cord.
But why do we chose this method?
Starting from the Sakti Kendra (i.e. the anterior end of the backbone) the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems reach towards the Gyana Kendra ( the top most region of the head where the head-Knot is tied). When these two get activated the life energy gets increased.
Breath is the source of vital energy and the source of life.
a) First make the breath slow and rhythmic. From both the nostrils breathe out air slowly and then breathe in very slowly. Practise this for at least 2-3 minutes.
b) Now bring your attention to the naval region, observe it with closed eyes, while breathing out it comes in and while breathing in it expands. Perform this technique for at least 5 minutes.
c) Feel the breathing has become slow, deep and rhythmic.
d) Shift the attention from the naval and focus it inside the nostrils, at the tip of the nose. Now become fully aware of each and every breath. Not even a single breath should come in or leave without your knowledge. Feel the freshness of the incoming breath(oxygen) and the warmth of the outgoing breath( carbon-di-oxide).This exercise is also to be performed for 5 minutes.
If the mind wanders away from the breath then hold the breath for a few seconds (Kumbhak). But beware not to force the breath in. Do not stop thoughts forcefully even if they keep coming one by one then only observe them without getting involved. Once the art of observing is perfected then the thoughts will stop coming by themselves
Maintain awareness during the whole Sadhna practice.
In the end take one or two deep long breaths and open eyes slowly to end the practice. For the beginners a practice of 15-20 minutes is sufficient and can be increased slowly with practice. We will go into greater detail later on.
Some empirical results of Preksha Dhyana
1 Balance between activity and rest: relaxation.
2 Development of will power.
3 Purity of the mind.
4 Increase of the tolerance power.
5 Peace of mind.
6 Change of mental attitude
7 Prevention and cure of psychosomatic diseases
8 Effortless concentration: freedom from nervous and emotional tensions.
From the works of Acharya Mahapragya
Compiled by Mrs. Vidya Jain