Here’s a technique to rid yourself of stress and enjoy a peaceful mind.
I learnt cyclic meditation in 2005 at Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation campus (Bangalore, India). Here I explain how to do this simple, yet effective, technique for relieving stress.
Meditation demands that a person’s mind be on a single track, on any single chosen task. But this doesn’t come easy to most people. Their minds are on a overdrive and they find their minds drifting. Others find themselves falling into a peaceful slumber. There is nothing inherently wrong in falling asleep, as the idea of meditation is to induce relaxation. But to derive full benefits from meditation, we have to perform the relaxation under the conscious control of mind. Cyclic Meditation seeks to invigorate the mind (and the body) by cyclically stimulating and calming it through yoga asanas interspersed with rhythmic breathing and relaxing in supine poses. This technique is based on a verse found in an ancient text called the Mandukya Upanisad – See References and Credits at the end). Essentially, it says “If the mind is lethargic – wake it up; if it is highly strung and distracted, calm it;, and if it is balanced – allow it to remain that way”.
In our everyday life, we relax our bodies unconsciously by stretching and yawning. Cyclic Meditation similarly relaxes our bodies, but does so through total body awareness and bestows a deep silence of mind, since we perform all movements, including breathing, consciously. I remember while doing Ardha Kati Chakrasana, an extremely simple exercise where we had to simply raise and stretch one arm and bend our bodies along with the extended hand at the waist, I would simply wish to drop dead. It used to be so tiring, yet so relaxing; and in the end we would be much calmer and ready to face the everyday grind. When a person with a hyperactive mind does the asanas, his mind becomes unidirectional and alert. The effect is due to the slow speed of doing the movements. We had to perform every movement very slowly and be fully tuned to the subtle changes occurring in the body as a result of the movement. It used to take an eternity to just to raise the hands; we had to pay attention to the tiniest of sensations occurring in the body, such as the rush of blood from the tips of the fingers towards the heart and the sensation of heaviness in the hands.
The technique also uses chanting the syllable “OM”. This sound is said to correspond to the original vibration that first arose at the time of creation. Of the three sounds in Om (AUM), the ‘A’ sound (”aa”) represents the waking, the “U” sound (”oo”) represents the dream state that lies between the waking and deep sleep states, and “M” sound (”mm”) represents the deep sleep state. Between two successive “OM”s, there is a brief period of silence, which represents the state of perfect bliss when the individual self recognizes its identity with the supreme.