During the last few weeks our meditation class has been working on a practice known as Kaya Sthairyam or body stillness. This practice is considered to be one of the essential elements in establishing a good meditation practice and this is probably because the first step in learning to meditate is to sit still! (unless of course you are practicing a walking meditation).
So what is involved in Kaya Sthairyam? It is a practice that focuses the awareness on the body quite intensely so that the mind eventually loses interest in the body and the body becomes quite steady and still.
There are 12 stages in the practice and it is important to develop mastery with each stage before progressing to the next.
Stage 1 is about preparation: finding a comfortable meditation asana and adjusting your position so that the spine is erect and that you have a solid foundation.
Stage 2 concentrates the awareness on body posture: by observing details of the posture such as alignment, balance , shape, body parts etc.
Stage 3 enables you to visualise the body from different angles …as if looking into a mirror. The aim here is to saturate the mind to the point where it no longer has any interest in the body.
Stage 4 is the visualisation of the body as a tree: using the mind’s imagination and capacity for visualisation and occupying its creative tendencies.
Stage 5 explores sensations in the body: these are the factors that are most likely to cause distraction so once again the mind is saturated with these so it will lose interest.
Stage 6 draws attention to the body parts and moves through them systematically to keep the internalising mind engaged.
Stage 7 focuses on the immobility of the body: the practitioner resolves to be still.
Stage 8 develops the feelings of steadiness and stillness in the body.
Stage 9 is the experience of psychic rigidity: here there is total awareness of the body, its immobility and a sense of being fixed in the position.
Stage 10 is breath awareness: allowing the breath to become more and more subtle as you focus on the natural breath.
Stage 11 is a state of concentration where the breath becomes very subtle and the mind becomes one pointed and still…a state that enables the practice of dharana or concentration.
Stage 12 is the gradual externalisation that allows the practitioner to move slowly back to the external environment. This is also a very important part as it allows you to become more grounded and aware of your present environment.
You can try the practice with Dr Nalini Sahay This particular variation of Kaya Sthairyam was taught by Paramahamsa Swami Satyananda.