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Raja yoga meditation combines the mental and physical aspects of meditating. Many types of meditation involve sitting still and centering the mind to achieve deep relaxation and a peaceful state of being. The raja yoga style draws upon the body, mind, and spirit working together to achieve the blissful feeling that can come from doing meditation.
The word raja means royal, and raja yoga meditation is also called royal, classical, or ashtanga meditation. Yoga focuses on relaxation and strength, while most types of meditation concentrate on calming and centering the mind. This meditation technique joins the physicality of yoga with the mind exercise of meditating to achieve a deeper concentration and bring thoughts and feelings into balance.
As with most types of meditation, the benefits of practicing raja yoga meditation include deep relaxation and stress relief. Many people who regularly meditate report a constant feeling of well-being, even when dealing with difficult situations. Doing meditation forces one to slow down, turn off swirling thoughts, and focus on peace of mind.
Practicing raja yoga meditation can involve a variety of steps and processes, which typically depend on the individual. A combination of yoga poses and mantra meditation can be used in a raja yoga routine. This technique seeks to awaken and develop the universal or divine self and become closer to God or something spiritual.
During raja yoga meditation, the practitioner follows steps to first slow and center the movement of the body, and then calm and focus the mind. Stillness and physical balance can be achieved through raja yoga, enabling a person to concentrate solely on his mind and clear away the web-like thoughts that sometimes run around inside the head. Mantras or meditative phrases are typically used to center the mind, and concentration is geared toward peace and serenity, with a focus on tapping into the third eye, also known as ajna.
The third eye refers to a spot in the center of the forehead, just above and in the middle of the eyes. Accessing this area is thought to open a pathway to the spirit or divine self. Once the practitioner reaches a state where the focus is completely inward, he begins to experience a sense of pure calm and an emptying of the mind. Rushing thoughts are said to retreat and leave behind a sense of well-being along with the ability to focus on an inner state of pure consciousness unclouded by worry, anxiety, or useless thoughts.
Many regular practitioners of raja yoga meditation report that they are calmer and live a more peaceful life as the result of their contact with the divine self. A feeling of bliss permeates even after the meditation is complete, they report. Many say they use raja yoga meditation as a path to permanently experiencing the presence and will of God.