Chakra activation means you start with Pranayama.
Meditation, on the other hand, has quite a few ways you might begin. Let’s start with the chakras as there’s a bit to it.
Each chakra has its color and a particular number of lotus petals as you may know. The chakra is presented in a lotus for several reasons, but a primary reason is because the lotus blooms when it is imbued with the power of the sun, and closes when the sun goes down. Similarly, the chakra becomes activated when Shakti is present there; otherwise it is dormant.
Similarly, just as a lotus will close when it gets splashed with water, if you drown yourself in excess sensory stimulation (read too much guna influence), then likewise the lotus will close.
Muladhara chakra, the base chakra located in the perineum, is pictured with four lotus petals pertaining to the plexus of nadis found there, as opposed to the others which may have two or sixteen or even a thousand. These petals are representative of the varied modes of discrimination relevant to that chakra. Each petal contains a Sanskrit letter pertaining to the modes of awareness, and the tattva contains the bija mantra; by performing the proper ritual with that mantra, the modes of discrimination are revealed to your awareness. Muladhara is sealed with yellow, representative of the Earth element.
The exercise in Chakra awareness and activation is an exercise in energy manipulation and consciousness expansion. You want to make an energy which is sleeping down below, to come awake and rise through to the top. It must be pushed. Gravity, among other things, is keeping it down. You must create a pressure, and maintain that pressure in order that it rise and remain risen.
The discussion of physics and spirituality is often difficult to reconcile together until we acknowledge the totality of the interconnection of existence. Here we are talking at once about physical as well as ephemeral energy. The body contains both. The earth element contains both. When we talk about moving prana, the life force, through the body, we are also talking about both. Prana is moved using both physical breath and breathing exercises, various physical locks with tongue and other, as well as a visualization process and sound.
The body has a circulatory system. All the life fluids and airs circulate, flowing. The flow of prana, however, must be looked at in terms of its five aspects, or winds, but more precisely in this case, the upward and downward movements of two of these, Udana and Apana which need not only be vitalized in order to do their jobs properly and give you vigorous health, but also gently coaxed into moving in opposite directions than usual, thereby creating the pressure when the two winds meet and thus stimulating chakra activation.
Don’t suppose for a moment that you can go inward with your eye and simply flip a switch. It won’t work. When the energy really awakens and has left its sleeping place in Muladhara, connection with the earth element will dissipate and the samskaras accumulated through numerous births will also shed. You will gain full knowledge of the earth element and at the same time, things of the earth will lose their attraction for you. In other words, vices like greed and similar clingy or overly attached emotions will no longer be a hindrance even while you live a normal life of day to day joy.
Meditation then, is not so intricate an activity though tomes be written on the subject and many methods have been expounded upon in great detail. Patanjali’s Eight Limbs are interesting only in so far as the practice of the yamas at limb one is a good basis from which to begin to apprehend the detachment of the vices of Muladhara. Patanjali is systematic, taking the practitioner through ethics before getting physical with seated postures good for meditation. And even he recommends pranayama before moving into the focus and concetration exercises of dharana and dhyana, which will bring one into Samadhi, or meditation.
Personally I’ve found it beneficial to teach my students to gently enter into meditation practice first, incorporating other aspects of the path as suits individual inclinations and proclivities. Meditation does not need to be a detailed system until unless there is a specific goal one sets out to achieve.
In short, find yourself a comfortable place where you will remain undisturbed, take up any comfortable position, close your eyes and watch. Watch your breath. Watch your thoughts. Witness. Just witness. Know yourself. See first what is what with your current state of being. Observe. Don’t judge it. Just observe it.
After you are able to simply observe, dispassionately, then there are many techniques to control the breath, silence the mind, bend reality, attain sublime silence, etc. But the simple answer to how do I begin to meditate would be found in the two words quiet observation.
Om Namah Shivaya
UmaMaYA - Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda
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