#6 Thai Yoga Samatha
Thai Yoga Samatha is the same or Dharana. It means calm, abiding meditation. When I go into savasana and corpse pose and do my extension and go into my breathing and calmly abide, I am doing Samatha meditation. I’m using the Asana to facilitate it.
Samatha meditation, which is a passive, introspective, meditation. Samatha may be object-focused meditation or no object! In other words, focus on your breath, focus on the candle as in Tratak meditation, focus on your saint, teacher, guru or swami …these are all Samatha because they are all object focused meditation. That has some value. Objects can be a piece of art, literature like a holy book, an icon, or anything you can hold in your head for a minute or longer. People spend a lot of time doing Samatha meditation on things that are very negative and harmful for them. In other words, they think about images and words that disturb them. They spend a lot of time, effort, and energy on that. That is object-focused meditation.
Our recommendation is that the object of meditation is positive.
I could do Samatha in many other Asanas or Yoga postures. I could do it sitting. You can do everything you do in Savasana while sitting. It’s more difficult is why we don’t do it in other postures. It might even be painful. Pain comes into bear when you do long, sitting meditations. How many people here have ever done a whole day of Vipassana or Samatha meditation? Your body notices after about 4 hours. You get a wake up call after about 8 hours; you are wondering why you are there. After about 12 hours, you might be freaking miserable. At 18 hours, you either have breakthrough or you just feel like you are lucky to be alive. If you do that every day for 30 days, eventually it might get better, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it takes longer.
Sometimes, it takes years to be able to sit comfortably just for one day. It is a varying experience from person to person. It is the number one reason why millions of people don’t do long seated meditations because it is so painful. If it weren’t so painful, more people would do it. That’s the beauty. We have another tool right? We have Savasana. Everybody can do Savasana. Everybody can learn meditation right? I know in a lot of yoga schools, it’s not even cool to say meditation anymore because they are going more for the exercise thing. They still have people in Savasana.
When I was growing up, Savasana was meditation at the end of our practice. It wasn’t nap time. It was a technique to consolidate the practice. Now that we’ve opened the channels, balanced the Chakras, handled the body issues, shut down the miscellaneous conversations of the organs and the imbalanced areas. we can breathe and meditate. Now that we have generally moved the Prana through the restricted places, we can sit still and have a more enlightened and expanded awareness inside of ourselves. We are able to enjoy this expanded awareness without all the body distractions. That’s what I was taught.
For many, it is a nap break after a hard practice. You can tell that just by listening to all the snoring going on during Savasana. In my meditation, my teachers, if you were in any postures and you went to sleep, they would come over and kick you or slap you or hit you with a wooden stick. I grew up old school in this stuff. If you went to sleep during meditation, somebody would come over and whack you, sharply. I mean sharp enough that the guy who is almost asleep on the other side of the room jumps. The people who are not asleep and who are meditating don’t jump, only the ones who are almost or who are asleep jump.
When you study books that are related to our discipline like the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book Of The Dead, you learn that some of the most powerful teachers look like they will eat you alive. They are there on purpose. They are there to help you make your progress. We have to re-frame how we see the people around us. We have to constantly work at it because I’ll tell you even from myself that it’s very difficult to stay in this place constantly as I go through my day.
There are always challenges for what I call discursive thinking, which is thinking which leads me to have other thoughts than this. It’s always that challenge right? The discipline is to come back to it at the first moment where you are back in your right mind. You do it. You pick it right back up and get right back on that horse. Wai Khruu is something that is important everyday. You cultivate this into your life. Make acknowledgement a way of life. Affirmation can be imagination. Acknowledgement is really to see, to notice what’s in front of you and to clearly think the thought. We can affirm things that we never see. You cannot acknowledge things that you cannot see. It has this element, ’well I can acknowledge you ‘cuz you are there.’ I see you. I feel you.’
Samatha is calm, abiding meditation. Don’t panic. It’s from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The first rule is to not panic. Remember, I went back to Pranayama. If there’s nothing else to do, take a breath. That’s your towel. That’s the metaphor for the towel in the hitchhikers guide. If nothing else, don’t lose your towel. If you don’t have anything else in the whole universe, make sure you have your towel. The traveler always has their towel. What is that towel? The towel is this. Don’t panic. Why? Wait and things will change.
What if they never change? Well then, you’ll die and it will change. If you hang out long enough, one way or the other, things will change. There is no reason to be hopeless even if you are in a hopeless situation until your death. People who understand this have different ideas about death and dying than people who don’t. If death cannot cause you stress or separate you from yourself, what can?
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