Does the idea of starting with meditation freak you out?
No time? You can’t sit still? Too difficult for you?
Too many (dancing and out of control) monkeys running around in your mind? Or would you even describe your mind as a Zoo, filled with monkeys and an occasional elephant passing by?
Several weeks before people attend our yoga holidays, I usually send out an information document, asking people if they have any specific goals or expectations for the retreat.
” I would like to be able to meditate on a regular basis after the retreat“, is an answer that definitely scores in the top five answers. The good news is, it can be done! It’s not even that difficult, that is, if you really want to…
Only yesterday I had someone in for a coaching intake in Antwerp and she told me that she couldn’t start with this yoga and meditation stuff right now as she needed to stay focused. She had some really important deadlines, lots of changes going on and she was working almost 24/7 right now. Yoga or meditation would probably slow her down in her thinking, right?
This statement is very understandable and I hear it more often, it’s also contradicting in many aspects. One of the huge advantages of meditation is that the busyness in your mind will become less overwhelming as you develop your ability to stay in the present moment. And thus you’ll be more focused, and capable of getting more work done. That is, again, if you take those 20 minutes to do so.
What is Meditation?
First, what is meditation? Meditation is essentially any practice that focuses or absorbs your awareness to a degree that the busy mind quiets down, and you become simply aware of the present moment.
Why do we bother? It’s not easy to explain in words—like other profound experiences in life—it’s only in the experiencing that you understand meditation’s power and effect.
You can read a previous blog post about the reasoning behind meditating; Why do we meditate, why bother?
Like the different yoga traditions, what works for one person may be different than the next. Some types of mind will relate to more concentrative types of meditation. Others may relate more readily to sensations or movement.
Although there are many different paths of meditation, I think most of you would agree that the big picture benefits and results are essentially the same.
I could give you ten, even twenty reasons to make meditation part of your daily life. For me personally, meditation just makes me happier… more peaceful, relaxed and balanced. Above all, meditation also makes other people around me happier because instead of sharing stress, I tend to share peace much more these days.
If you are new to the world of meditation, I recommend trying out a few different traditions to see what is natural to your character and inclinations.
Herewith one technique, using mantras, this usually works really well for beginners.
The Soham mantra
The word mantra has two parts: man, which is the root of the Sanskrit word for mind; and tra, which is the root of the word instrument. A mantra is therefore an instrument of the mind, a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation.
Silently repeating a mantra as you meditate is a powerful way to enter the silence of the mind. As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. As you meditate, the mantra becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct, until you’re finally led into the field of pure consciousness from which the vibration arose.
Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice.
The Soham mantra is a natural mantra because it is already part of your nature. Meditation on the mantra Soham, connecting the head and the heart with the breath, and recognizing the oneness between the self and the Wholeness.
The Soham mantra has been called the universal mantra because of the fact that its vibration is already a part of the breath, and everybody breathes.
While the English translation may not be as important as the quality of the sound vibration, Soham translates as I am that. When remembered repeatedly, it declares I am that I am that I am that I am.
How to do it?
- Make yourself comfortable
- Set your timer for 20 minutes.
You can even start with 10 minutes or 5 minutes. Go slow, we’re not in for the Champion’s League for Meditation (?) just yet!
- You mentally repeat Soooo on every inhalation and repeat Haaaaaammm on every exhalation.
Remembering the Soham mantra often during the day can be a very useful practice.
Your own mantra!
As I continue to work with people through my personal life coachings in Antwerp, in yoga classes and on our yoga retreats, I see a common thread with both men and women. A feeling of inadequacy. Whether it came from messages in our childhood, culture, or workplace, many of us learned to put others first, to stuff feelings internally, to compare ourselves to others.
I have a simple question for you: How much time, on average, do you devote to yourself on a daily basis? Are you worth these 20 sacred little minutes per day? I would think so…
That’s why I like the following mantra so much, it’s easy and says it all : “I am enough”.
The technique is simple, breathing in and out and just silently repeating these words: I am enough. Again and again.
Or even better “I am perfectly calm, cool and balanced”. Heck, why not make it, “I am awesome”?
If you have some ‘stuff’ to let go. Breathe in with LET and breathe out with GO.
Whatever word, whatever sentence resonates for you.
These words/mantras do not have the ancient vibrationial sounds as other mantras, like Om, have but they do work in quieting the mind down. In simply relaxing a bit and taking the time for yourself.
Can it really be that simple? Yes, it can be, just try it.
In the next blog post, I’ll share 5 possible reasons why meditation is not working for you and why you could have some troubles in becoming a little Zen Master.
I hope you liked this post, and that you’ll agree with me that meditation is fascinating.
Starting with meditation is not that hard, just give it a go and check if it’s your thing or not.
Go slow, and as usual, it’s all gooood and, … be nice to yourself.
I can assure you, this will not work from the very first time but in time, you will experience some differences here and there.
Feel free to share your meditation experiences as I would love to hear about them.