Meditation in yoga helps us to become more self-aware and connected with life. There are many different approaches, and each individual may find that some approaches suit him or her better than others.
Meditation is usually done in a comfortable seated position, with the spine straight. A period of 15-20 minutes is widely considered as most beneficial, ideally as part of the daily routine. Shorter periods eg 5-10 minutes are also helpful, eg as part of a yoga class.
Overall, meditation in yoga aims at stilling the mind. This may not necessarily mean emptying it of thoughts, but, through regular practice, reaching a state of non-attachment to our thoughts. For example, some people find it helpful to observe their thoughts as if they were watching a train passing by, or clouds drifting in the sky.
A practical approach to meditation is to use a particular point of focus, for example concentrating on a positive quality such as love, wisdom, peace, or beauty; or thinking uplifting thoughts; or watching the breath. If the attention wanders, all that is needed is to bring it gently back to the chosen point of focus. With practice, the meditator may experience no interruption to their concentration on the chosen point of focus. This state may be present for only a short time. An even deeper experience of meditation may be experienced, where the meditator enters into a state of total awareness and unity with all life, and perhaps receives fresh knowledge and insights.
Regular (preferably daily) meditation has a multitude of benefits in everyday life, including:
Greater peace and calm; insights into problems and other situations; reduction in anxiety; a deepening acceptance of self; a deepening sense of the connectedness of all beings; more energy and vitality – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually; a growing sense of flowing with and being supported by life.
It is important not to desire any particular experiences of or outcomes of meditation, but to practise the yogic approach of non-attachment as in other areas of life.