I am entering my 4th month of my bikram yoga practice. I practice at the Bikram yoga studio on the lower east side of Manhattan. Bikram (or beginner bikram) is a series of 26 yoga postures practiced for 90min in a hot yoga studio with an instructor yelling out commands. It is one of the most intense workouts I have ever had, and also the most meditative. It is so exhausting that my mind cannot wander and attain a certain amount of mental stillness or being in the moment.
This has started me thinking more about meditation. I used to meditate every night as part of my kung fu practice. This meditation was very much focused on the break and on different types of breathes and cultivating your chi. But like yoga meditation (kung fu has roots in yoga), the focus is on emptying your mind.
I think of this tradition contrasted with the freudian tradition, where everything must be put into context, explained away - or given a story. Pathologies are caused by incorrect or faulty personal histories and can be fixed by rewriting these personal histories via talking therapies. With meditation (inspired by Buddhism) there is not wrong personal history. Rather all personal histories are wrong. The self is an illusion and the practice is to become comfortable with ungroundedness (anxiety). Rather than finding the cause of the anxiety and explaining it away - gaining control over the anxiety, with meditation we must sit with our anxiety. We must notice the anxiety and not label it, not give it a story, just accept it and then let it slip away so we can be present to our sense perceptions rather than our mental processes in our brain.
Stay tuned for more meditation musings in a future post - also I have been reading some Pema Chodron that has been inspiring my thinking on meditation.