In today’s fast-paced world, meditation has gained immense popularity as more individuals seek refuge in its calming and centering effects. But what exactly happens when we close our eyes, find our center, and dive deep within ourselves during meditation?
In this article, “What is going inward mean in meditation,” we will explore the mysterious inner journey that takes place as we meditate. Join us on this enlightening adventure as we unlock the secrets and complexities of going inward during meditation, guiding you toward a richer and more fulfilling mental and spiritual experience.
- What Is Going Inward Mean In Meditation?
- Turning Inward Through Pratyahara
- How Can You Bring Pratyahara Into Your Practice?
- A five Step Meditation Guide to Turning Inward
- The Inward Journey
- How To Turn Inward When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed
- Tips to Turn Your Focus Inward
What Is Going Inward Mean In Meditation?
Turning inward has become an integral part of anxiety and trauma treatment over the last two decades. It involves examining and increasing your awareness of thoughts and emotions by tuning in to your body and observing your mental responses.
This training may include deep breathing and visualization to help you slow down and focus inside yourself. Although it may seem unusual or uncomfortable at first, as therapy progresses, your inner world becomes a safer, more familiar, and healing place.
Unfortunately, most adults seek comfort, affirmation, and calm through external focus instead of turning inward.
Science shows how therapies centered around inward focus and intentional breathing are beneficial. Recent research challenges the traditional view that brain activity is the same when focusing inward versus outward. Instead, the prefrontal cortex is only activated when attention is directed outwardly, marking a significant shift in thinking. A study conducted by the University of Toronto indicates that the prefrontal cortex is not responsible for inward attention. Thus, therapy and guidance are necessary to direct attention inwardly since it utilizes a less-utilized part of the brain.
Turning Inward Through Pratyahara
Pratyahara, originating from the Sanskrit prati meaning “away” or “against”, and ahara, meaning the intake of food or other substances, represents the detachment of the senses. This practice forces the consciousness inward, releasing external stimuli. Pranayama brings us closer to interior awareness as we let go of conscious reactions to outside things. We take steps towards pratyahara during meditation and asana by focusing on our breath.
Pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga according to Patanjali, serves as a vital link between external and internal yoga practices. The initial four limbs of yoga consist of Yama – which focuses on non-harming and truthfulness, and Niyama – which outlines duties and tasks that lead to a healthier lifestyle, asana, and pranayama. Practicing pratyahara helps us transition towards the last three limbs of yoga – Dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (total absorption).
Patanjali describes pratyahara as the state where the senses and organs of action (indriyas) turn inward, allowing for mastery over outward-moving senses. This inward turning leads to calmness and the transition into internal consciousness, especially during meditation.
How Can You Bring Pratyahara Into Your Practice?
Pratyahara is about turning away from your racing thoughts and creating a space of inner stillness. The next time you’re doing a challenging pose, see if anxiety or fear arises. Don’t try to escape; instead, use your breath and drishti to move deeper into the pose. This will help you recognize your physical body’s strength and sustain deep postures. As you withdraw from your chaotic thoughts, you’ll uncover more subtle things happening in your body, mind, and spirit. You can also cultivate pratyahara in savasana by using yoga nidra, which can help you reach a deeper state of relaxation and quietness.
To get to pratyahara in meditation, start with some pranayama techniques:
- Focus on your breath – It is a great way to start calming your mind and blocking out the external world.
- Visualization technique – Picture a vast expanse, like an ocean or a field, and let the simplicity of the image soothe your mind and help you avoid getting sidetracked.
- Find a suitable spot – If you can, meditate in a peaceful, quiet place to make it easier to reach Pratyahara.
Pratyahara transcends yoga and applies to daily life. In an age dominated by technology, distractions and media bombardment are prevalent. We often find ourselves glued to our phones, indulging in various diversions like TV or alcohol. While not inherently harmful, they can consume us if left unchecked. Pratyahara empowers us to embrace stillness and quiet, fostering moments of serenity and enrichment in our lives.
A five Step Meditation Guide to Turning Inward
To master the wandering mind, we must achieve samadhi through inward-focused meditation. This practice connects us with our core being – pure consciousness that’s eternally free, radiant, and full of infinite joy. The aim of yoga is to reach this state, where our small divided mind no longer restricts us with limited knowledge and anxieties. By refining mental control and embracing our true essence, we become the seer, free from limitations and empowered to attain life’s ultimate goals: absolute freedom (apavarga) and enduring satisfaction (bhoga).
Follow these steps to meditate and observe the results:
Steps Toward Meditation
Choose a meditation posture that is comfortable and stable, allowing your head, neck, and torso to be straight and aligned. Once you settle into your position, let yourself feel the stillness that washes over you. Hatha yoga postures that increase strength and flexibility in the pelvis, hip joints, and back can help create a more comfortable and stable posture for meditating. Doing a series of asanas beforehand can also be beneficial, as it can help bring both physical and mental stillness in preparation for meditation.
Relaxed and effortless breathing
Become attentive to the flow of your breath. Notice the sensations of inhaling and exhaling, and relax your abdomen and the sides of your rib cage. Allow the breath to become deeper and diaphragmatic, and let it come naturally, without force. As you observe your breath for an extended period, you’ll notice it deepening and becoming smoother. Breathing is important as it will help to relax your mind and nervous system, preparing you to turn inward for meditation. Your mind will start to settle, and distracting thoughts will take a back seat to the steady flow of breath in and out.
For formal relaxation practices, you should be in a reclining posture. But for less formal practices, you can use a sitting posture to get the same effect. To do this, start by scanning your body from head to toe and back, looking for any muscles that feel tight or contracted. Once you identify them, make a conscious effort to relax those areas of your body.
Breath awareness in the nostrils
It’s time for formal concentration practice. Focusing on the sensation of the breath in the nostrils is a great way to make your meditation more peaceful and secure. Connecting to the breath at the nostrils links you with the fundamental energies of your mind and body, generating a profound feeling of tranquility and bliss. As you take in a breath, sense it coming in through the nostrils.
Resting awareness in the sound of a Mantra
Mantras are powerful words or sounds used for meditation and concentration. The universal mantra soham (pronounced “so-hum“) can be used by anyone, but most mantras must be given by an experienced teacher. When repeating your mantra, let your focus rest on the sound. You’ll eventually find that it will arise spontaneously in your mind. When this happens, relax the effort to maintain it; keep your mind centered on the mantra. As you delve deeper into the mantra, the presence of luminous awareness emerges.
As evident, the process is simple with significant rewards through daily practice. Brief meditation sessions rejuvenate your body, mind, and nervous system, enhancing happiness, creativity, and productivity. Even 10 to 20 minutes can impact your mood and set your day’s tone. As you refine your practice, meditation becomes a delightful, extended routine offering yoga’s profound, lasting benefits.
Three Amazing Ways Meditation Transforms
To experience true inner joy, we need to shift our focus away from external factors and concentrate on our internal consciousness. Finding contentment within stillness and silence is crucial. By practicing meditation, we can transform ourselves and reach a level of contentment we’ve never experienced before. Here’s how:
To truly love ourselves and the wonderful people in our lives, we must first feel genuine love within. Meditation helps us uncover this sense of completeness that is hidden beneath the untrue thoughts of being inadequate. When we can stay in the moment and embrace ourselves despite what is happening in the outside world, we start to recognize our imperfectly perfect selves. As we do, we make our way to the source of true self-love that lies within us.
Creatures of Compassion
Our greatest calling is to embark on an inner journey through meditation and to bravely delve into our inner selves. As human beings, we all experience thoughts and emotions that we may not be proud of- as the Buddha once said, to be human is to suffer. Embracing this truth and showing ourselves compassion can transform our way of life. By committing to a practice of compassionate meditation, we not only honor ourselves but also all of humanity. When we embody the reality of our interdependence in our actions, words, and energy, we create a ripple effect that is potent and far-reaching. To change the world, we must first cultivate and nurture compassion within our own hearts.
We often search outside of ourselves for answers that will bring us joy and contentment. One of the key principles of mindfulness meditation is that peace can be found within ourselves. This involves a shift in our mindset; instead of looking outward, we focus on our inner world. The more awareness we have of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, the more quickly we can tap into that sense of inner peace. It’s a decision to go inward, and when we make that choice, we are choosing the path to peace.
By setting aside time for meditation, you can unlock your true potential. Through meditation, you can break free from the stress and chaos of everyday life and rediscover the power of your being. This newfound power can be used to completely transform your life from the inside out.
Should you be interested in more benefits of meditation, then click here.
The Inward Journey
Pujya Gurudevshri highlights the importance of practicing Pratikraman and Samayik for inner growth and finding one’s true self. Dharma cannot be limited to just physical or mental actions, as it involves a transformation of the self. Hence, those who are merely physically or mentally active are distant from discovering dharma.
Dharma – An Experience
Thinking is a small aspect of one’s existence, residing at the mind’s edge rather than its core. Machines, such as computers, often outperform humans in task efficiency. However, humans excel due to their ability to experience beyond mere thought. For instance, one must taste pickled mangoes to truly comprehend their flavor. The physical impact of alcohol on a person is evident in shaky limbs and speech.
Dharma is similarly an all-encompassing experience within one’s being. It requires more than just desire – one must actively practice and look inward. Solely listening, reading, singing, worshiping, reciting the Enlightened Ones’ words, or changing one’s language proves insufficient; true self-reflection and application are necessary to reap dharma’s benefits.
Study of the Scriptures
The practice of turning inwards is the path to liberation. Finding yourself is the key to freedom. If you don’t learn how to do this, you will never be able to walk the path of the Enlightened Ones. The words of spiritual teachings are not wrong, but how you interpret them can lead you astray.
The Enlightened Ones begin discussing the external, as it’s more relatable. Their sole purpose is to guide you inward, away from external distractions. With a teacher, you’ll navigate teachings and commence your inner journey. However, interpreting scriptures independently may lead to misinterpretations and hinder your progress.
Deeper is Higher
Embark on an inward journey, starting from the external world to the body, then continuing to the mind, emotions, and culminating at the knower. True Self-realization can only be achieved through comprehension of the knower’s essence. The deeper one delves inwards, the higher they become spiritually. Meditation on the knower comes after contemplation, which begins with the body and travels to the mind. Abiding in the knower results in Self-realization. Jainism offers countless spiritual practices and techniques for guidance along this journey, but delving deeper beyond routine and mechanical practices is the key to true enlightenment.
At dawn, extending one’s awareness to the world around them is called ‘aakraman’. Conversely, when dusk falls, ‘pratikraman’ is the act of withdrawing from the external and turning inward, focusing on the Self rather than on sense objects.
For instance, imagine a mother taking her children to the beach to play, where they build sandcastles and become angry at anyone who touches them. But as the evening approaches, the mother calls for them to go home, and the sandcastles suddenly seem insignificant as the children break them joyfully and turn towards home.
Pratikraman cultivates detachment and brings the focus back to the Self twice daily. It enables consciousness to return to its true home, making its outward extension meaningless. Practicing pratikraman is crucial to avoiding external distractions and keeping the focus on the Self.
Samay refers to the eternal Self in Sanskrit. The act of identifying with and abiding by the Self is called Samayik. Practicing pratikraman severs our connection to the non-Self, while samayik helps us reconnect with the Self.
In addition, Samay also means ‘time’. To remain steadfast in the Self, we must be mindful of the time we have. Time is categorized into three segments: past, present, and future.
The past is but a memory and the future is simply imagination. The present, however, is real – it is the only true moment. Samay, therefore, means being present.
Achieving true samayik requires heightened awareness as staying in the present moment can be challenging. To let go of memories of the past and imaginings of the future, one must first have faith in the world. This is the first step on the inward journey, and staying present and focused on the Self is crucial.
Gateway to the Self
The present is a narrow boundary between past and future, and to remain there, subtle and calm awareness is necessary. Even the slightest disturbance can cause one to lose the present moment. Only a quiet and pure consciousness can dwell in the present, and from there, the path to the Self can be accessed. Samayik is the practice of staying in the present and avoiding dwelling on memories or fantasies, allowing for a state of acceptance, witnessing, effortlessness, and bliss.
While attending satsang sessions may provide inspiration, true progress toward the Self requires turning inward and cultivating inner silence. With the guidance of the Illuminated Ones, one can find their way to the Self, leaving behind sorrow and experiencing pure joy.
How To Turn Inward When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed
The world’s current fear can be overwhelming, making our minds try to reduce internal discomfort by creating stories. However, often we unintentionally conjure up negative stories, rather than positive ones.
In response to the uncertain situation, ask yourself: what narrative am I telling myself? Remember, fearful stories won’t help, as the unknown has yet to be unraveled. Pause, refocus, and opt for a narrative that promotes positivity.
1. Be gentle with yourself and others
You’re doing your best in this overwhelming time. When feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, take note of what you were thinking and the actions you took. When you become aware of the things that trigger these feelings, like worrying about the pandemic, you can choose to react more thoughtfully. Rather than allowing your focus to stay on the negative, shift your attention to something that leaves you and others feeling good.
2. Limit how much media you consume
Staying informed is important, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. Spending hours on your phone reading social media threads isn’t going to do you any good, and it will probably just increase your stress levels. Be aware of what you consume and find reliable news sources. Take some time to be up to date with the current news, but don’t spend too much time on it.
3. Get out of analysis paralysis
When those panicked thoughts start spiraling, it can be hard to break out of them. If you’re feeling stuck, try this: take a break and move your body! Put your worries on pause and take some time to shake, dance, twerk, jump, or whatever works for you. Get out of your head and do what feels good!
4. Love your body
It may be tempting to use unhealthy foods and alcohol to distract yourself from anxious feelings. However, this approach will most likely leave you feeling more overwhelmed in the long run. Make sure to show yourself some love and respect by engaging in medically sound activities that help keep your body healthy. Give yourself the care that you deserve.
5. Nurture your inner world
It’s easy to stay positive and feel great when you focus on the things that make you feel good.
- Watch shows that make you feel good without stressing you out.
- Catch up with your friends and enjoy a good chat.
- Put on some music that lifts your spirits, and have a dance party in your living room!
- Take an online course, read more books, and explore the wonders of nature.
- Take advantage of the social distancing time you have to nurture your inner world – create art, journal, or go on a virtual museum tour and spend some time meditating.
Tips to Turn Your Focus Inward
- Connect with purpose – This time of introspection is perfect for clarifying and cultivating your values, strengths, and visions. Doing so can help elevate your relationships, career, and life to new heights!
- Reset – Turning inward is often associated with the negative, such as self-limiting beliefs, thoughts of inadequacy, and self-doubt. Use this time to reset to a positive mindset and repair your spirit.
- Disconnect – Electronic devices can quickly distract and draw your attention outward. Make it a habit to disconnect from them and use the time for introspection.
- Tune in to the outer world – Surprisingly, external experiences can be just the thing to boost your inward focus. Go for a walk in nature, observe the flowers in your neighbor’s garden, or gaze at the night sky. Doing these things can get your creativity flowing, help soothe your spirit, and energize your body.
- Practice yoga, visualization, and meditation – Healthy mental and physical activities help you tap into what’s happening within you. Mindfulness practices like these can provide a sense of peace during this uncertain period, letting you acknowledge and appreciate the things you can control while letting go of those you can’t.
What does awareness will turn inward mean?
Mindfulness is a practice that involves gaining insight into your thoughts and emotions. This is achieved by tuning in to your body and observing your internal reactions. Basically, you’re training yourself to focus on internal stimuli instead of external stimulation.
What refers to meditation & is it focused inward?
Dhyana is the Sanskrit word for meditation. In this stage, the yogi turns their attention inward and focuses on a single concept, object, or sound. During yogic meditation, the practitioner is thought to be entirely removed from the physical realm and unifying their consciousness with a higher power.
What are the effects of wrong meditation?
Recently, some popular media and case studies have raised awareness about the potential for meditation to cause adverse side effects, such as increases in depression, anxiety, and even psychosis or mania. Unfortunately, few studies have looked into this issue with a large number of participants.
What are inward and outward looking?
Looking inwards: To assess productivity at all stages and use the data collected to determine what should be done to enhance performance.
Looking outwards: To acquire knowledge through research, other sources, and best practices and use this to generate creative ideas and identify areas for improvement.
Going inward in meditation is a transformative journey of self-exploration and profound self-discovery. It involves turning our attention away from external distractions and focusing on our inner experiences, thoughts, and emotions. By embracing this introspective approach, we can cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves, develop a stronger connection to our true nature, and foster inner peace and well-being. Ultimately, this practice provides a foundation for personal growth and spiritual enlightenment as we navigate the challenges of modern life. So, make time for yourself and embark on this enriching journey of going inward in meditation.