In the past couple of months, I have gained an interest in, and started to practice meditation.
Although I have been practicing yoga on and off for a few years, meditation has never appealed to me. The thought of sitting cross-legged for extended periods of time with my eyes closed and doing nothing sounded quite boring and uncomfortable to me. I frequently felt impatient and bored during any yoga class that featured long meditation-like pauses in the beginning and end of the class. So, having a daily meditation practice was never among activities that I could see myself doing. That all changed when I read the book “The Secrets of Meditation” by Davidji.
My interest in meditation was first piqued when I came across an article on Vedic meditation in an issue of Women’s Fitness ‘Diary of a Vedic Novice’. It described a meditation technique based on an individual mantra, that is repeated mentally to achieve a meditative state. According to the article, meditation can be so effective that it can rest your brain six times deeper than sleep. I decided to read more on the subject of meditation.
When I saw the book by Davidji in the Kindle store, I noticed that almost everyone who had reviewed the book gave it five stars, and raving reviews. So I gave the book a chance, and I have to say that it completely changed and opened my mind on the subject of meditation.
Davidji is the Lead Educator of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. In the book, Davidji shares his own personal experiences with meditation (he seems to have tried almost every possible meditation technique there is), discusses the benefits of meditation, and then goes through several different meditation techniques, giving a background and history of the meditation, and then providing helpful instructions on how to practice each meditation technique. Davidji encourages the reader to try the different techniques in order to find the best one for you.
I always thought that meditation was simply another way to relax and recharge your mind, but it is so much more than that. I was surprised at all the beneficial mental, emotional, and physiological effects that can result from just a few minutes of meditation every day (not to mention spiritual). I have always enjoyed staying active and fit through various physical activities such as yoga, aerobics, kick-boxing, running, etc, but I never considered that just sitting still and quieting the mind could also be good for the body. Obviously, meditation can reduce stress and thereby reduce the ill-effects of stress that we all know and have heard about; high cortisol levels caused by stress can cause high blood pressure, inflammation, the accumulation of belly fat, and so on. What I didn’t realize, is that meditation can actually cause changes in the brain, by changing the types of brain waves, and allowing a person who meditates to be less reactive to situations and more conscious and reflective.
Just this weekend, I read an article in NewScientist magazine describing a recent study that found that meditation boosts the activity of genes that are beneficial to good health, and lowers the activity of harmful genes. This change was even observed after only 15 minutes!
After having learned of all the benefits of meditation, I decided that it is definitely a worthwhile activity to incorporate into my life. So, in the past two months, I have been experimenting with my new meditation practice, trying different techniques, and meditating at different times and in different places. Since I am on a sort-of holiday, I haven’t yet been able to make a set routine of it, instead I just try to get in at least one meditation per day, at whatever time I feel is right. My favorite technique so far is mantra meditation. I don’t have an individual mantra yet, as I would have to attend a meditation workshop by an accredited meditation teacher to get one, but Davidji has provided a few good ones in his book, so I normally use one of them. I also signed up for Davidji’s weekly e-mail newsletters and weekly meditation, which have been helpful and inspirational.
I have had a few bumps in the road so far, I have missed a few days here and there, and sometimes I just can’t quiet my mind enough to stay in a meditative state for longer than 10 minutes, but I think that is normal, and I will just keep practicing.
I sincerely hope to be able to continue and build my meditation practice so that I can get all the benefits out of meditation, and maybe achieve a bit of enlightenment at the same time 😉