The reputation of meditation has evolved over the years. In the 70’s meditation might have brought about images of a guru on a peaceful mountain top with eyes closed and legs crossed but is now seen as a practice praised by high performers, silicon valley CEO’s and artists alike. It is not uncommon to see meditation apps alongside Uber, Instagram and Gmail on people’s smartphones. This has a lot to do with the overwhelming evidence that meditation works and can physically transform brain matter. As the jury comes out on the addictive nature of social media and online platforms it is not unusual for people to feel edgy, restless and stressed by the modern world. Meditation however can help provide an antidote to these feelings and offer a moment to unplug and rest.
Recently I had notice that the ability to wind down had become harder and harder. There was a constant to-do list in my mind ranging from both work and personal entertainment. You know when catching up with a Netflix new series seems stressful that something is off. The sheer amount of data that is thrown at us is a new process for humans and one that I’m not so sure we are prepared to deal with. I started to consider meditation. I downloaded some apps, read some books and listened to podcasts and felt that I had a nice entry into the practice of meditation. While I would recommend all those formats I felt that to practice consistently I would need a little more help. Michael Miller of London Meditation Center commented that it is a bit like learning to swim from Youtube videos. You can surely get a nice taste and some pointers but it is most effective to learn alongside someone who has practiced for years.
With this in mind I signed up for a weekend course at London Meditation Center. Here Jillian Lavender; a meditation practitioner for over 20 years who was trained by Thom Knoles (who in turn was taught by Beatles teacher Mahirishi Mahesh Yogi) ; taught a 4 day course teaching the basics of Vedic Meditation. Vedic Meditation is practiced in two, twenty minute sessions daily with a mantra repeated internally as you sit in a chair. This differs from mindfulness and other such meditations that don’t use mantras. Here it was the repetition of the mantra that brought the mind to ease as opposed to watching the breath or body. I found the use of a mantra helpful in focusing my active mind so that I was truly relaxing as opposed to creating more stress by remind myself to think about how my body was feeling.
After a few months I can say I definitely notice positive affects of meditation. The greatest strength is that it helps you take a moment to consider how you react to emotions. Sleepless nights may be frustrating but what could be worse is feeling frustrated or anxious about that feeling. Meditation gives you the ability to consider how you react to things. While even sleep itself comes easier, if I do have a bad sleep I have the ability to decide to not worry about it and move on with my thoughts. While I have certainly struggled with the length of the meditation and feeling like I want to get up and start ‘doing’; I feel that it is a barrier I want to challenge myself to overcome. When you realize you can sit still and relax for 20 minutes you begin to organize the time you are not meditating much more efficiently. Overall I would highly recommend a weekend with the London Meditation Center as they offer not only a fascinating and worthwhile course but keep an active support network for the months and years to come to enhance your practice.
Find Out about Vedic Meditation here: https://www.londonmeditationcentre.com/