Yoga, meditation – Does it really work?
It seems to be that these things do not receive the same amount of skepticism as other spiritual journeys do. So I figure I’ll play the cynic here ( well, not so much cynic. But I want to investigate and see what you have to say)
I’ve decided to give both a try. I’ve picked Jnana yoga – The path of enlightenment because that seems the most appealing to me. I haven’t begun just yet but I plan on starting later today.
I’m wondering what is it about these certain movements, positions and breathes that have such a beneficial effect on the body and mind? How is it that this can cause a high that so many of you speak of? And even go as far as revealing the secrets of life? (finding happiness, peace, etc)
Is it possible that perhaps it just has a placebo effect? Or maybe just being conscious of trying to be more conscious is what does it?
What is the science behind it all?
I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone besides myself. If not, sorry haha
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I did my first round of meditation last night and it was rad. I know there are mixed reviews on whether to listen to music while you do it but I opted for really loud ambient music and it helped with the experience a lot for me.
I tried not to focus on anything but found that my mind would naturally gravitate towards matters that left me with a very enlightening experience. My mind kept pulling towards the word ego, and as I sat there I started to deconstruct things I was doing that I didn’t do for any other reason than fulfilling the ego. Whether or not meditation is meant to do things like this I have no idea, but it was a great experience and I plan on doing this often now.
@livingparadox, I started meditating a couple of weeks ago and have been fairly dedicated to doing it every morning for 20minutes. I feel it calms me and want to continue with the practice. Discipline seems to be one of the big hurdles for me in the beginning: making sure I do it everyday, and always bringing myself back to my breathing.
Also my biggest advice would make sure you start with right posture.
Check out some youtube vids from this guy:
And this is a great beginners book I have been using:
Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henpola Gunaratana
What you do is called pranayama, or controlled breathing. Start breathing in deeply and exhaling. When you breathe in, open the throat. when you breathe out, close it just a tiny bit. Do this for a while. Then go to your room (or wherever) and just sit there. Even 5 minutes is beneficial and clears your head.
@livingparadox, An easy way to get into yoga is by following the 8 limb path of yoga. However, if you are looking to truly excel and benefit from it you can not look at it as something you do every evening 5 days a week. You have change your whole lifestyle. Look up the 8 limb path and it will make more sense for sure. But right on for trying I’m sure you will love it!
I know little sanskrit and It’s actually gynana (g in gun). You shouldn’t practice yoga or meditation for some health benefits, We should do it..you should do it just to realize that you are alive.
watch this video.
Alan watts is a king!!
The reason Yoga works is because it completely changes how you think, which in turn affects action. In psychology, it has been proven that thinking a certain way unnaturally for a long enough period of time causes you to naturally inherit that
thought-process. If you don’t believe me, then try it yourself! lol go a whole day thinking only happy thoughts and see what happens! but Yoga has such a strong effect because it gives us an opportunity to see the divinity in everything, including ourselves. believing in a soul and/or a god is virtually a prerequisite of Yoga. Yoga can give you a feeling of ecstasy because of small amounts of DMT released in the brain, but recent knowledge of The Spirit Molecule (DMT) is limited. you should research DMT by the way. It’s a chemical that may have something to do with our very perception of reality. Back on topic: I don’t think you should worry about the deep science behind Yoga meditation, because knowing too much about it can destroy it’s therapeudic magic. There are somethings we should just leave unknown, for divinity’s sake lol. If you explore the science of it, you’ll only be left with empty understanding (if you no longer want to practice it).
I’m wondering what is it about these certain movements, positions and breathes that have such a beneficial effect on the body and mind?
A lot of the time, it’s not in what you do, it’s in THAT you do it, and how you do it.
However, the movements, positions and breathing techniques do have effects on the mind and body due to simple biology.
It’s about things like blood flow, nerve stimulation, even stimulating glands that release neurotransmitters.
When it comes to meditation, posture has very little to do with it, as long as you keep your back straight and balanced you can be in any position. Now there’s a hundred different ways to do fancy meditations, but in most cases these are less efficient than the basic one, and they more often than not lead you astray.
Clean meditation works wonders just because it cleans the mind. It improves mental performance, which includes things like mood and attitude. It’s like cleaning your cluttered desk, blowing the dust out of your computer, wiping the monitor, and putting all the pens and stuff in order.
How is it that this can cause a high that so many of you speak of?
Blood flow, relaxation, nerve stimulation, and the release of neurotransmitters. It’s very basic, really. And it’s kind of like a feedback loop, it’s pretty amazing how these little things can make you feel so good, the surprise/amazement adds to it, the feeling that you’ve found something good adds to it, the knowledge that you can do this again when you want adds to it, etc. The good feelings accumulate, multiply, modulate and keep going. Feedback loop.
And even go as far as revealing the secrets of life? (finding happiness, peace, etc)
Is it possible that perhaps it just has a placebo effect?
This is mostly just a preconception/delusion. People find something nice and they think “this is THE secret of life” or “this is THE ultimate truth” or “this is THE enlightenment” or “this is THE absolute peace, THE ultimate freedom” or whatever… but that’s all a load of bullshit.
It’s like peeling one layer off an onion and stating that you’ve reached the core. Climbing a small hill and claiming that you’ve found the top of the highest mountain.
It’s a belief, but they attach to it so much that it feeds back into itself and manifests itself as “truth,” AKA a ridiculously firm belief in something that has no basis in reality. The “second pitfall of meditation.”
There’s a lot of placebo in the effects of yoga and meditation, but that’s not a bad thing. If it works, it works, doesn’t matter how you made it work. The mind is a powerful thing. If you find a way to leverage your mind to greatness, that’s great, even if the methods are absolutely ridiculous.
Or maybe just being conscious of trying to be more conscious is what does it?
Maybe, it is of course a possibility. I don’t believe that’s what it is though, that theory doesn’t even make sense to me.
What is the science behind it all?
There’s very little proper science explaining or supporting anything about these things, because it’s very tricky to perform proper scientific studies on it, and it’s not something that’s prioritized by the scientists.
Does it matter?
If it works, then it works.
Meditation is a journey that lead’s to practice. Many seem that there is always a “direct” way or route to guide into meditation and how you do it – but really its all form of Art. Of One-self.
For me i needed a more direct meaning and approach at life – and through all the emotional and twist’s its also brought out a lot of truth. Things can be lead at detail of levels (of self, relation, realization, change) and as whole. Or simply things can pass and unfold in one’s acceptance. (Peace, unity, pacification, connection)
In all Its one to find BALANCE – That taoism (yin-yang) of light and darkness and no matter what that through aid and practice – Truth, balance, and harmony no matter- It will bring the world too your lap; if you choose it too.
I’ve had great experiences with meditating and, not necessarily yoga, but more “stretching while calming myself”. My only problem with this, as with many practices, is putting it to steady practice. I need to work on my self-discipline.
Simple solution. Try em. Meditation takes 10 minutes, and you can start right now, no need to spend hours researching it, just do it. Yoga, there are drop in classes in every city and most towns, probably under $10. It is so easy to give these things a go.
But it really depends what you mean by ‘work’. If your looking for all the answers and eternal peace, fat chance. If your looking for a way to get more in tune with your body and mind, as well as learning 2 really useful relaxation techniques, then they should do that and more.
@livingparadox, hi Lacey. Actually there is a large body of scientific evidence which demonstrates the effects of meditation. One technique alone called Transcendental Meditation has had more than 650 studies carried out at more than 200 independent institutes and universities in 33 different countries. Of these around 200 have been published in peer reviewed journals( a peer review incase you didn’t know is when other scientists/doctors take a look at the evidence in a study and the conclusions it draws, and only if it is deemed to be fit and proper science is it published) and this is just the research into TM not to mention all the other techniques out there!
Benefits indicated by scientific research include:
- Improved sleep and
- Sports performance
- Memory, energy, creativity, intelligence
- Reduced use of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
- Clearer thinking
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Faster reactions
- Improved relationships
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Normalisation of weight
- Stronger immune system
- Relief from migraines, headaches and asthma
- Reduced cholesterol
- Reversal of ageing
- Normalisation of blood pressure
- Relief from fatigue
To quote one doctor:
“The overall benefits of regular transcendental meditation are so staggering as to be almost unbelievable – in one 5 year study, half the number of inpatient admissions to hospital (87% fewer for heart disease and nervous system disorders) … These findings are remarkable.”
Dr James Le Fanu in the Sunday Telegraph
“If trascendental meditation were a drug, it would be hailed as a major breakthrough.”
Dr Nicholas Argyle Consultant psychiatrist
So modern scientific analysis has revealed to us that the benefits of regular meditation are measurable and quantifiable and are backed up by a large body of sound research.
To quote one Indian saint:
“The practice of meditation was for many centuries considered in terms of mysticism. The present scientific age hesitates to assign value to anything shrouded in the garb of mysticism.
The growth of scientific thinking in the present generation has brought Meditation to a level of scientific study and scrutiny.
A systematic method has been developed that enables an individual to experience directly the pure state of meditation”
Did you know that there are 8 branches of yoga? What we understand as yoga here in the west is only one of these. In Sanskrit they are called the asanas, or yoga postures. (Sanskrit is the language of the ancient indian Vedic culture which is where the knowledge of yoga comes from)Meditation is another branch of yoga and is known as dhyana in Sanskrit. This is the mental aspect of it. Both practices go together and compliment each other.
Yoga itself is a Sanskrit word and means ‘union’. In the ancient Vedic tradition it is the union of the individual self with universal consciousness. It describes the state of samadhi, a state where the mind becomes still without losing alertness. This is the state achieved in meditation.
@livingparadox, I recommend a book by Steve Ross, called Happy Yoga. His teachings helped me take my yoga practice to a new level. I think that finding a good yoga teacher/studio in your area will help you get where it sounds like you want to be. Start by aiming for one class per week, and practicing by yourself a few times a week, if not everyday. Good luck and let us know if you have more questions!
check out this post http://www.highexistence.com/topic/my-first-yoga-experience/
I was quite intrigued by Yoga as well, went for a quick google just the other day. My point of view is that it indeed has several benefits, and many of them are seriously life changing. I guess it’s all about how committed you are and how much you believe it will work (you were talking about placebo effect).
More over, I guess having a great teacher is quite important, I don’t have much time to attend any class so I was thinking about getting started on the internet or so, but I am not entirely sure if that’s the right approach.
How were you planning on learning yoga?
@achyutram, Thanks for posting this link! You’re right, this guy is brilliant :)
@manimal, I really appreciate your detailed response, thank you for answering all of my questions :) I really like what you said about the ‘ultimate truth’ being bullshit, totally agree there. Actually I agree with just about everything you said.
@nickc2007, I actually just gave meditation a go for around 20 mins, I feel quite relaxed now but my mind wandered alot. Thats gonna take some practice. I feel a little silly now though, thinking about the logic behind it when the whole point is to simply *not* think. (Well, its not that simple for me just yet haha)
@ilooklikeawaterbottle, I just took a look at this on Amazon, looks quite interesting. I’m going to see if they have it at my library before I buy it. Interesting username you have there, by the way :)
@rocketman, I was planning on starting on my own via internet research also. And then if I like it and want to take it further or cant seem to get the hang of it by myself then I’ll start taking classes. And as Harvis said its going to heavily depend on my level of commitment/self discipline, so I guess we’ll see.
How important is it to have a physical teacher?
Does it matter if its just a local class or should I seek a guru when I’m ready to start taking classes?
“though, thinking about the logic behind it when the whole point is to simply *not* think. (Well, its not that simple for me just yet haha)”
@livingparadox, Ha. This is so true. Then you come thinking about the fact you should be not thinking but doing so you are kind of thinking (BUM BRAIN GONE).
When practicing meditation simply sit, be, feel yourself and observe your thoughts as if you are watching clouds pass by, without further judgment. If you start judging the thoughts that you are observing, be aware of the judgement. Just sit and be aware, in a half-lotus or lotus posture if you can (sit in kneeling position or on a chair if you aren’t flexible enough). Don’t do it because you wanna get enlightened. Meditate to meditate and that’s it. Simply make it a habit to sit for 20 minutes each day so you can just be and let go off everything. Yes, it can create a very ‘peaceful’ high and practicing awareness does affect you physiologically and physically.
Yoga, at least for me, is amazing. I’ve had lower back problems since I was 13/14, and a month ago I looked for a yoga session for lower back pain. The first time I did it, not only did my back feel pain free, but it felt GREAT! I was amazing. I now do yoga almost every day.