Each day we find new ways and means to keep ourselves happy and at peace. Healthy food and regular exercise are two things that can help, but there’s much more we can do to perfect the feeling - through the power of meditation!
You can meditate in many different ways. Different types of meditation practices often draw on spirituality and religion, but the fundamental principle of meditation is to always bring about a state of tranquillity and peace within. So other than waiting for a miracle to make all your worries disappear, what you can do is take some time out from your schedule, no matter how busy you are, and spend some time in meditation.
To find out more, we meet three trainers who are closely associated with the art of meditation – Sabrina Katakam, a vipassana teacher; Aradhana Bhargava, a yoga trainer; and Farzaan Merchant, a martial arts trainer.
Sabrina Katakam, is a teacher at the Vipassana Centre. Vipassana, which means “to see things as they really are”, is an ancient Indian form of meditation that helps one discover the truth about the mind and the body. It is offered as a 10-day residential course and is divided into three learning divisions - morality, concentration and wisdom. Once mastered, an individual can practice on his own and, in that sense, says Sabrina, “it is like yoga, in which the individual becomes his own master.”
Sabrina explains, “Most suffering happens because we are always thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Instead, the mind should live in the present.” Vipassana is primarily aimed at breaking two habits of the mind. The first is to break the mind’s tendency to constantly go back to the past and dwell in the future. The second is to break the habit of always reacting, which is a negative and blind response. True wisdom comes from taking positive action rather than resorting to negative reaction.
The benefits of meditation, Sabrina states, are many. Once your mind lives in the present you become more efficient at work. You discover how your mind, as well other people’s minds work, which helps in interpersonal relations. Your body also becomes stronger, reducing the risk of psychosomatic illnesses. One of the biggest benefits is how less upset you become and, even if you do get upset, you get over it very quickly.
Aradhana Bhargava is a corporate and personal yoga trainer. Yoga, she says, takes a deeper look at meditation, as an organised practical system for unity of the body and mind. To help begin, Aradhana suggests these simple steps:
Pace & Poise-To accustom yourself to meditation, start by sitting for 15 to 20 minutes. Increase your time with each sitting. Soon you will be able to meditate for an hour at a time.
If you are sitting on the floor, assume an upright and comfortable cross-legged position. Your body should be steady and at ease. Should you experience discomfort in your body at any time while meditating, gently change your posture. If you are sitting on a chair, place both feet firmly on the floor. Use a pillow behind your back for additional support.
Transform your Mind- Once you’re in a comfortable position, close your eyes and begin your breathing. Slowly divert your mind towards your breathing. Mentally, try to observe breathing through your nostrils. Continue to focus all attention on your chest as it moves up and down as you inhale and exhale. This will drive away any other thoughts that come to your mind. If the thoughts persist, you can try chanting “om” in your mind, while exhaling.
Breathing- As you breathe in, take in all the positive energy and breathe out all forms of tension, worry, anxiety and negativity. In the beginning, observe your breath and listen to the sound for about 15 minutes. After 15 days, you can increase it to 30 minutes or more.
Discipline- Even if you experience restlessness, sit through the entire period of meditation you’ve set aside for yourself. If required, you can also set an alarm or timer to bring yourself out of meditation so that you do not wonder about the time.
If thoughts continue to distract your mind, allow them to come and go. Then, gently bring your focus back to your breathing. Soon you will experience an inner serenity. Your breathing will become steady, and you will have mastered the art of meditation. Allow yourself to come slowly out of meditation so the benefits can linger with you throughout the day!
The benefits of meditation are, however, not something you can easily attain in a single day. Farzaan Merchant, who is a martial arts instructor and fitness trainer, has been practicing meditation for seven years now. Farzaan says he started on his own, stating that ‘the feeling came from within’. Today, he meditates throughout the day, something which he refers to as ‘meditation in action’.
“I think with practice you can be in a meditative state at all times,” he says, “irrespective of where or what you are doing.” And as for the benefits, he adds, “It helps me stay focussed, calm and composed in all situations. It has changed my perception of life itself!” Meditate to stay in the moment, and watch the positive energy flow. – Hewasa