I was first introduced to yoga and meditation in 1986 when I read and heard about TM (Transcendental Meditation) and its many claims such as achieving levitation. I did not believe in most of these, especially levitation. I could nonetheless visualize that meditation would result in relaxing the mind. More out of curiosity than with the hope of achieving much, I formally learnt TM in 1986 from an authorized TM instructor. After practicing a few times, I indeed felt that it provided relaxation. I started practicing it couple of times a week.
First glimpse into meditation – perhaps!
One day, after couple of months of practice, I noticed that meditation resulted in some type of calmness which I had never experienced before. Reflecting back, I realized it was a much deeper relaxation than I had ever obtained. That feeling of calmness lasted almost the whole day. This was perhaps my first real experience of meditation.
Such moments of deep relaxation were rare and continued to be rare for a long time. In fact, sometimes I would not be able to meditate at all, probably because I was too exhausted to begin with. I integrated other meditation techniques into my practice which seemed to help. After some time I was not doing TM exclusively, but more like a hybrid. In each session, I would survey my mind and figure out which technique was likely to work best and then meditate accordingly.
Learning from ’West’
Meditation has essentially originated from ‘East’, but I have learnt a lot from the ‘West’ also. About 15 years ago I came across some meditation related subliminal tapes. The claim was that if you listen to the tapes while sleeping, you would still benefit. The tapes consisted of mostly music with no words. Out of curiosity, I tried them and to my great surprise, the claims were very correct. I would feel extremely fresh the next morning. Though I could not explain why this happened, being a believer that our brain is amazingly complex and scientists know very little about it, it did not surprise me either. I began to incorporate these tapes also into my practice.
Always in Meditation
Another change in my meditation awareness came about five years ago. I was listening to a new meditation tape that said ‘There is no such thing as doing meditation. You have to be in meditation all the time’. That revelation hit me and after listening to it couple of times, I could feel its significance. It suggested some techniques that one could use at any time of the day to get back to a meditative state. The idea was to carry out daily tasks while remaining in the meditative state. This way, you achieve and maintain calmness and clarity throughout the day, and are less affected by external circumstances. I soon realized that this is easier said than done. Staying in a meditative state is an extremely difficult task, at least in the beginning.
Meditation and movement
The ‘Yoga and Meditation Teacher’s training” from VYASA, that I completed in 2007, added a whole new dimension to my understanding and appreciation for the power of yoga and meditation. The cyclic meditation that I learnt during my VYASA training was a very unique experience. Thus far, all my knowledge of meditation was based on staying still in some way. Stimulation was not a part of it. I did, however, find cyclic meditation extremely effective. Alternating between stimulation and relaxation helped me achieve even deeper levels of meditation. I am also able to see now, how other movement based techniques like Tie Chi could have similar benefits as Meditation, as claimed.
Learning to warm up
Another important thing I learnt during this course was the significance of warming up before actual meditation. We were taught to do yoga and pranayam before every meditation session which helped ease into meditation.
Just getting started
I am continually learning and feel that I am just getting started. I have barely touched the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of the full potential of meditation.