Meditation is an all-encompassing word. It can be overwhelming at times. But a simple practice of daily meditation can give you a fresh perspective on life itself. I have been practicing meditation for a few years now. However, I knew I had to deepen my knowledge of this subject. That led me to join a fully residential Teacher Training course on meditation and I am happy I did.
I have been teaching meditation to people from different sections of the society. People of different age, sex and social standing. Every individual brings in something new for me to observe and learn too. I am here to share some of those profound observations that I learnt.
Towards the end of our Teacher’s Training Course, we needed to practice teaching walk in meditators who visited the academy for guided daily meditation sessions. On the day I had to conduct a session, I was prepared and waiting for the meditators to arrive. It was early morning. I prepared my notes the previous night on how I would guide the class.
Once everyone came in and settled down on their mats, I guided them through an energy meditation. As I progressed, it felt good that I was able to keep everyone awake and make them sincerely follow what I was guiding them to do. After 20 minutes, the meditation session was over and I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their meditation journey. One by one people started to get ready to go home. However, one of the ladies from the group was standing in a corner and sobbing. I went to her and asked if there was a problem. She said, she was overwhelmed by the meditation. She told me that it touched a corner of her heart which she avoided touching. She explained to me how she was avoiding the confrontation with her hurt in her heart. I tried to empathise with her and encouraged her to cry and let it all out. We both sat there together silently for a while. She told me that she was 63 years old and lived alone. Once she composed herself, she had left for that day. Later I noticed her attending the meditation sessions regularly. One day, I greeted her and asked how she was doing. In her words, “I never felt this alive before”.
Yes, meditation does that to people. I learnt that it has nothing to do with whether and when you should do it. Meditation has beneficial effects on everyone who practices it. One of the many benefits of meditation is self-love and self-respect. You start to honour who you are and it helps in setting boundaries to anything that is disrespectful towards you. It also helps you in letting go of what is not helping you grow and evolve as a person anymore.
Fast forward to the time when I started my own studio in my hometown Guwahati (Assam, India). Due to the lockdown for Covid19 pandemic, I have been giving sessions to a limited number of people. This is to keep enough social distancing even inside the studio.
A successful gentleman with a robust life, a great family and a travelling job enrolled with me for meditation sessions. Every time I enrol someone for meditation or yoga asana classes, I ask them their reason to join that particular class. He wanted to change his lifestyle and be calmer and at ease with his life. His work stress was getting on his nerve and he realised that he needed to do something to soothe his nerves.
Our classes began. We met for classes every alternate day in my studio. On day five of our class, he said, “For the first time today, I forgot about the back pain I had that always irked whenever I sat down on the mat.” It was a huge relief for me as well. Because he always had to change his sitting posture during meditation, which broke focus every time.
A deep meditative state could divert his mind from the suffering to focus on his meditation. That proved the saying of Lord Buddha, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”
During a meditation session in the studio, the meditators were asked to mentally list five things about themselves that they were grateful for. One lady looked restless on her seat. I enquired if she was uncomfortable. She said, “I don’t have anything to list”. It was a surreal moment for me. I knew her from my school days. She belonged to a wealthy family; had an amazing upbringing and was married to a rich and loving gentleman. Her children were doing great in their respective fields of studies and she had everything that defined a good life. To help her with her list, I told her about the obvious reasons that she could put on her list. And while speaking to her I noticed a steady flow of tears dripping down her left eye. The guided meditation continued and she sat through it following every instruction thereafter. When the session ended, I asked them to slowly open their eyes. She opened her eyes and said, “Thank you! That felt great.”
Meditation makes you look inwards. It lets you get in touch with yourself. Discover the you that got lost in the routine of life. It is true that it is difficult to monitor and stop the endless flow of thoughts in our minds. But meditation is not at all trying to stop your thoughts. In fact, it is unnatural to even try to do that. Thoughts will be there as long as we are alive. The flow of thoughts becomes more rapid especially when you sit to meditate for the first few times. The idea is to keep at it. Eventually the mind will slow down. If you are unable to do it on your own, join a guided meditation class. It helps.
I always make it a point to remind my students that the moment they enter the studio, they should leave their fear of judgement outside the door. Because there is nobody who is waiting inside to judge them. Everyone is there to work with their mind (for meditation) and body (for yoga). They can be completely themselves. Open, free and uninhibited. It is their space and I want them to feel completely safe and at home. There are many apps and online courses that teach yoga and guide you through meditation. However, for most people, it is impossible to find a peaceful space at home where they can just be with themselves without getting disturbed. It is especially true for people who live in a big family. That is when a space like my studio comes in handy. At times, it is important to physically distance yourself to just sit and focus on your breathing, even if it is just for five minutes. Physical distancing helps in mental distancing as well. Hence the need to join a class.