Traditional Ayurvedic Center

Meditation plays as much a part in Ayurveda treatments or Ayurveda training as yoga, massages, plants, etc. Let us discover what traditional meditation involves.

After describing the techniques, I will quote directly from the many works of Indian tradition. These works are very condensed and they describe internal mechanisms with great precision and surprising simplicity.
This expose should be read with a sense of personal connection to one's inner dynamics, and with close attention to the master, Patanjali, who transmits this ancient knowledge from generation to generation, under the scrutiny of experts in the field.
This is a process of serious learning and this expose will enable you to delve directly into these works, for you will be familiar with the main concepts.

The popular meaning
of the term meditation is based on one of the following:

1. A cerebral activity
: stop your activity in order to concentrate, be still in order to reflect, deepen, speculate and finally draw lessons and applications.

2. A spiritual activity: concentrate in the same way but in order to commune on what is important, on what is vital and cannot be attained without this exercise.

3. Supra-spiritual activity: concentrate in order to receive, encounter, contemplate and attain spiritual dimensions that are otherwise unattainable. At this third level, the practices of sages from different cultures or religions are relatively similar. What is different are the names or inner visual representations given to the objective (an encounter with the divine or a cosmic force; an encounter between the individual self and the essential self; naming the supreme objective in the singular or in the plural; viewing the objective as accessible or as an objective that is inaccessible but present ).
Such practices can also exist without explicitly bearing the word meditation.

4. All these different forms of meditation technically require a sense of calm in the body and the senses, regulation of intellectual disorder and behavioral disorder, and fine-tuning consciousness as it directs itself, stabilizes itself, contemplates and develops in this form of encounter or vision.

What concerns us is to understand the role of meditation in the holistic Ayurveda-yoga system, not just in theory but in order to benefit from the treatment or training.

We shall now describe a specific ancient tradition whose aim is to achieve tranquil, healthy, happy, optimal, consistent wellbeing for each individual.
Below is the unanimously accepted description of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

This psychological state of meditation (dyana), which is the ideal desired target, is known as "Samadhi" in Sanskrit. It consists in placing oneself outside all the negative factors of the mind, their number, conflicts, confusion, all of which are known by the term "klecha."
This is a state which, like sleep (I, 10) is characterized by unicentricity (pratyaya. Yoga-Sutra III, 3) and abandonment of all the other functions.
While concentration on the target state is known as "Samadhi," the state of calm attained by focusing on the objective is known as "shamantha" in Sanskrit or "Shi-ne" in Tibetan. The ensuing state, when negative inner factors are easily cast aside, is called "vipashyana."

We shall now discuss the foundational work on this subject: Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.


The optimal target, samadhi, is described in Chapter 3, verse 3: "when the objective ("artha") of meditation ("dhyana") envelops the meditator to the point that he surpasses his own self, this is samadhi. It is a state like that of a musician in his music. Intellectual consciousness or prayer are surpassed and empty ("shunyam").
Patanjali even equates this state (I, 26-30) to a relationship with the divine, with the supreme teacher or guru with whom we connect and this state becomes permanent ("anavacchedat"), continuous, unlimited, and uninterrupted by habit or difficulties.

He demonstrates this with an example, that of the mantra or repetition of the sound Om. This sound represents a sequence of three sounds (A-u-m) which cover the entire spectrum of sounds and pronunciations. An analogy with Judaism will help us tp understand this concept: when we say the Hebrew word "at" (feminine for "you"), in relation to a woman or to the divine presence, it represents the passage from the letter "aleph" (which stands for the divine, and this is why the Torah begins with the second letter of the alphabet "beit") to the last letter of the alphabet, "taf." This means that, through this one word, we connect to the other, the feminine and the divine, in every positive way from beginning to the end.
The function of the syllable "aum" is called "pranava."

The individual then attains a state of union with a supreme dimension and he becomes a great self ("mahatma").
This active meditation requires repetition (japah) in order to attain the emotional identification ("tadarthabhavanam") described in verse I, 28.
In the following verse, Patanjali notes that this form of repetition is a connector and it enables union with mastery ("adhigamah").
Furthermore, it removes the obstacles ("antaraya") to mastery over oneself as well as harmful interferences.

Patanjali, in verses I, 30-31, gives a long list of obstacles which are weakened by this form of meditation and shows the necessary and complementary role played by this technique in relation to other techniques of wellbeing such Ayurveda, massage, yoga, etc. It is well worth reading this list of obstacles.

They are:
illness ("uyadhi"), inertia and lack of perseverance ("styana"), indecision and permanent doubt ("samshaya"), lack of attention and carelessness ("pramada"), laziness and indolence ("alasya"), lack of control which leads one to seek solely material, sensual solutions ("avirati"), illusions and errors ("bhrantidarshana"), disappointment ("alabdhabhumikatva"), lack of stability ("anavasthitatvani"), alternation between real awareness and distraction ("cittaviksepah"), sadness and despair ("duhkha"), mental distress ("daurmanasya"), unstable bodily dynamics ("angamejayatva"), irregular breathing ("shavasamrasvasah"), distraction ("viksepa").

Through this brief expose, we can now appreciate what Indian tradition teaches us about the unique technique ("eka") of meditation for the prevention ("tatpratiseddhartham") and treatment of all forms of problems. It is therefore an essential part of self-knowledge and of Ayurveda treatment.

The example given above uses the repetition of a syllable. However, the process of learning and development also comprises other techniques.

We see the connection with Ayurveda also here : Patanjali does not say that only a few lofty beings are capable of attaining superhuman heights or divinity (whatever this may mean to each individual). On the contrary, he states. in verse IV, 4 and onwards that this movement of elevation is only possible because the consciousness of every individual is, in essence and being, of the same nature as the supreme being. This is why it is called "asmita-matra," which can roughly be translated as "I am, in myself." This means that the level of "I" and "I am" and "myself" is of the same level as the supreme target to which meditation aspires.

This is why Ayurveda does not content itself with making a dietary diagnosis regarding which foods are healthy for a patient. Instead, the Ayurveda practitioner seeks to identify the holistic nature of the person, with all its components, and the conflicts and balance between these components.

He does this with the certitude, underlined by tradition, that this person's individual nature is of the greatest value, and that it is enough to know and manage it well, particularly through food, but this does not mean that particular foods must always be prescribed or prohibited. With meditation, just as with a plane that flies in the midst of elements and winds, one must "check one's position," deal with the elements, and be determined to succeed.

Our supreme consciousness is not something that is isolated in the skies; it lies within everyone's individual consciousness ("citta"). This is such a vital notion that, in Indian tradition, the Buddha accords great importance to the connection between the two forms of consciousness, without diminishing the lofty meaning of the supreme consciousness.

Patanjali VI, 5 says that the unique inner consciousness ("eka") is that which develops ("prayojaka") all the other ("aneka") forms of personal consciousness, between which there may be disorder and that, here too, optimal order can be restored.

This is the reason why the Ayurveda practitioner accords great importance to the physical diagnosis, to each individual's connection (in terms of guna, doshas, etc.) with the elements of nature, and to this spiritual way of viewing each human being. Patanjali stresses the importance of understanding (IV, 7) each person's individual structure. which is never totally good or bad, "never totally white" ("asukla") and "never totally black" ("akrsna") in its characteristics ("karma").

The Ayurveda practitioner thus looks at all our complex processes through this perspective of "uniqueness" ("ekatanata") (III, 2).

We now understand why Patanjali (II, 29) states that, in this complex but unified context, meditation constitutes 1/8th of the success of yoga - together with the other requirements which are: abstinence from the negative ("yama"), repeated observance of good practices ("niyama"), posture ("asanas"), control of breathing ("pranayama"), sensory restriction ("pratyahara"), concentration ("dharana"), and finally "samadhi."

Ayurveda also takes into account the pantcha-bhuta or the five elements of nature - the manifest ("visesa") in all its individual forms and the non-visible ('avisesa"), the five organs of action ("karmenriya"), the manifestations of the five senses of perception ("tanmatra"), etc. Thus, in order to understand a patient at the diagnostic stage, is that which develops ("prayojaka") all the other ("aneka") forms of personal consciousness, between which there may be disorder and that, here too, optimal order can be restored. by examining their influences on the person's life patterns, health or sickness which results from the repetition ("abhyasa")of unhealthy practices

This helps us to understand the importance of the lotus with its varied components and multiple petals ("aravinda-dala") as a symbol of human nature. The chakras (energies/forces) of the body are also represented in the form of a multi-petaled lotus.
This diagnostic image and perception of oneself and others as a lotus is a constant motif in Indian tradition, as in Simrad Bhagavatam (VB), an ancient Vedic text.
aravinda-ak?a? - the eye like a lotus. SB 3.4.19
cara?a-aravinda - the foot like a lotus. SB 3.7.14
aravinda-nabha? - with a lotus rising from one's navel. SB 3.15.37
vadana-aravinda-sriya - with his beautiful face like a lotus. SB 5.18.16
aravinda-ak?a - Oh this great hero with eyes like the petals of a lotus. SB 9.20.14.


While Ayurveda weakens and halts harmful imbalances, yoga is the cessation of the vibrations of consciousness, while connecting with natural, cosmic forces ("prakti").
Ayurveda examines the five koshas which correspond to the five levels of a human being: earth (anatomical level or "annamaya"), water (physiological level or "pranamaya"), fire (mental level or "manomaya"), air (intellectual level or "vijanamaya"), sky (supreme level of happiness or "anandamaya").
Concrete awareness ("antarkarana") is what unites the self ("ahamkara") with the universal Self ("antaratma").

In Ayurveda, as in yoga, everything is done gradually through continuous concentration ("dharana") and continuous silence and meditation ("dhyana").
The beginning of the Yoga Sutra states: "then ("tada"), the real self ("drastuh"), resides ("avasthanam") in its own delicious form ("svarupe")." The word "avasthanam" - resides - means much more in Sanskrit: it means "to take one's place, to stay in one's place, to inhabit and also to shine with one's own reality."


As stated in verse 1, 39, a person then attains a state of "yathabhimata" where "that which is desired is pleasant and tasted in this constant state of meditation ("dhyana")."
Then the fluctuations ("vrttaya") of consciousness, which cause fluctuations and painful conditions, diminish, are annihilated ("heyah"), avoided and respect silence.
In Ayurveda, through food and massage, and with the awareness of this connection to nature and the interplay between nature and a person's psychological, intellectual and spiritual dimensions, impurities ("asuddih") are reduced and then destroyed ("ksaye"). The true being shines ("diptih") in union with the very essence of knowledge, with the glory of knowledge ("avivekakhyateh"). This is in Patanjali, verse II, 28. Verse 30 describes the attributes of non-violence ("ahimsa"), sincerity, honesty and disinterest in material possessions.
At this level, what seemed, at first, to be a matter of technique and repetition of techniques, becomes a continuous state of awareness ("eketanata") in III, 2 and an inner connection between the physical, psychological and spiritual in unison ("bandhah") in III, 1.


Patanjali's Yoga Sutra (which encompasses the trio of Ayurveda-yoga-meditation) concludes, in verse IV, 34 with a description of true liberation that is attained ("kaivalya") at every level ("purusartha"), as much at the bodily and health level, as at the level of our relationships, family and social roles, feelings and universal human participation. It is a liberation which can reach beatitude ("kaivalyam") but it is one in which a person realizes that he has returned to his true nature ("svarupa") and that it is stable ("pratistha"). This is the power of pure consciousness ("citisaktih").
Like the Hebrew "at" which represents union with the other, Patanjali's work concludes with the word "iti" which means "this is everything," not in the sense of "this is the end or the text stops here" but in the sense of "this is everything and it is sufficient to stay in this state, and renew it for it comprises everything."

In conclusion, we understand from Patanjali's teaching in the Yoga Stura and the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita that,
- even if meditation begins as a technique,
- the essential thing is the inner dynamic of meditation, concentration, connection between the different levels, and stability.
- this can be achieved through words, sounds, activities or inner feelings,
- and should be played out at every level for we have seen that we are made up of multiple levels and none is privileged, exclusive or excluded.

Indian tradition (like Jewish tradition) has understood three points:
- eating foods appropriate to our nature is essential. We must therefore learn this science in order to be connected to all our levels of being and to lead a full, meditative life. This is Ayurveda.
- Breathing, with its alternating actions of reception and expulsion, is what connects the body to all these levels of being.
- Success in these areas can only be achieved if they are experienced from an internal awareness of self, concentration, plenitude and stability. This is meditation.

We now move onto action with this indivisible trio.

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