Yoga and Meditation: Meditation is an Act of Witnessing. But by whom?

Yoga and Meditation:

A complete Guide to understand Yoga & Meditation

Realizing What is being witnessed; and Who is doing the witnessing is the Journey of Meditation.

Let’s get started with the basics to understand Yoga and Meditation. If we Focus on that which is Fundamental to Existence, and base a ‘witnessing’ practice around that – we’ll mostly be watching our Breath. As an extension, comes watching our Thoughts. Breath is intricately linked to Thought, as we’ll explore in an upcoming blog. But for now, let’s remain with Breath.

By pivoting our journey on becoming Mindful of Breathing, we eliminate the need for any belief system. We reduce our dependence on any Philosophy by which to interpret our Life. Sans the beliefs, philosophies and other mental-emotional constructs, what we have as a practice of Meditation then, is the simple yet profound act of Witnessing. We call this the ‘Sakshi’ bhav or the Witnessing principle.

By and by, we come to realize how hard that simple act really is. As soon as we’ve counted 5 breaths, our Mind has run away in various directions. And yet we continue to ‘Witness’, to Meditate – not on the meaning of those thoughts; but just on the process of thoughts arising, engaging our full attention and then leaving us.

That’s how simple the practice of Meditation is.

That’s how difficult the practice of Meditaton is.

Treacherous really. For we’ve built our entire understanding of Who we are, and the Life Story we are living, based on these thoughts that seem to be appearing on our Mind-screen in some random order. Reflection helps us correct wrong thinking and living. But Meditation goes way further.

It’s not merely about reconciling aspects of our life – Meditation gives us an understanding of how our mind operates. Yes, Positive Psychology and modern and ancient Therapy and Healing is all quite amazing – but Meditation goes even further. The Question isn’t only about Living your best life – which you should anyways be doing. Watching how our Mind works, its patterns, its Body-Mind nature brings us closer to the Question of Who is witnessing all of this. The Search is as old as Mankind – Who am I?

First we must be Thriving in every aspect of Life. Only from that space of thriving does one begin to seek further.

The Inherent Challenge

The biggest challenge we face is that we’re unable to ‘witness’ ourselves 24/7. Even in our waking hours, we’re almost always lost in ‘thinking’. Daily, we’re thinking about our holidays, loves, career or whatever else whilst we’re eating or driving. Thought and Existence aren’t the same. We all know this; and yet we keep forgetting it all the time.

Meditation brings us the needed Awareness. Today of course, there’s a whole Industry selling us Meditation to be successful at Work, Relationships, Health and more. And yet while we call this Meditation – that’s better described as harnessing Mind-Power. In that sense, what we call Meditation has almost become like Prayer – with the difference that instead of Asking for something in life, we’re trying to Manifest it. And yet, while we may have successfully manifested a richer, healthier, even happier ‘Me’ (which is fantastic) – we may still not Know Who we are. Meditation lies further still.

Defining Meditation

Without offering any definition, here are the 2 traditions and approaches I’ve experienced Meditation through.

‘Thy Will Be Done’ – is the classic epithet that summarizes a Life of Meditation. A Surrender that empowers one to Trust in life, and through that trust to become a true Witness, almost as if we really had NO vested interest in our very own Life Story. In simple terms, we’re surrendering constant ‘Judgement’ and learn to flow with life. All Saints and Buddhas teach us this.

And the Yoga tradition describes ‘Dhyaan’ or Meditation as a sustained, longer period of Focus – beyond ‘Dharana’ (Concentration). Interestingly the next stage is Samadhi – an ecstatic state that brings Wisdom. Ecstasy arising out of Peace; Transcendental Knowing.

We all understand that we have to go beyond-Mind. In classical Yoga, we train our Mind by Witnessing it – so it’s eventually transcended. Or in simpler terms, Silenced.

This Deep Listening is Meditation. And then, Who’s listening?

Yoga and Meditation

There’s only one way to find out. Happy Meditating!

Manish Pole Yogi + Guide
Having taught Yoga & Meditation since 2003, Manish leads Abhyasa as well as Himalayan Retreats and Teacher Training Courses globally.


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