Tag Archives: benefits of meditation

Autumn mornings

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I’m really enjoying the cool, dark mornings this week. Tiptoeing through the dark house, setting up my space for meditation, has taken on a new aspect and a new element of ritual, as I turn on the heater and light my candles and incense, before wrapping myself in my meditation shawl and settling into my practice.

I’ve been waking early, too, meaning that the house is in total quietness for much longer, and I’ve had longer for my meditation than I’ve managed in the week this whole term. Sleeping poorly at the beginning of the week has been a blessing in disguise, as I have rediscovered the bliss and peace of an hour (or more when I can!) of meditation. And it’s dark enough to practise Chandra namaskara (moon salutations) without feeling it’s the wrong time of day!

Adjusting my routine has proved a little more difficult than I hoped when my son and I started needing to leave home at 7.30am back in September. I was already waking at 5.20 before that, when we had extra time at home in the mornings, and pushing back to 5am to keep my meditation practice the same length of time just seemed too hard!  And I think I really needed to break that resistance, to learn that, for me, an hour of meditation is so worth a few minutes less sleep and a bit more rushing around! And considering I’d had so little sleep that night, my hour-plus to work deeply in meditation got me through the day with far more energy than I sometimes have with a full night’s sleep and a short meditation. So in a strange way I’m grateful for a night where sleep wasn’t happening…..it’s helped remind me of what I already knew and set me back on the right path.

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A place of peace and stillness

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Recently, a student asked me what  are the benefits of meditation. I answered truthfully, from my own experience, but felt afterwards that my answer had perhaps been inadequate in conveying all that meditation means to me.

The answer I gave was that meditation helps me to attain a calmer, steadier state of mind, and that a regular meditation practice helps me to carry these benefits over into the rest of my day.  All true, but there is so much more.

When I first established a daily practice, many years ago, I found that over time I became less reactive to the events of my life, dealing more calmly with the unexpected, and becoming more resistant to the ups and downs that we all experience. I found a new equanimity, calming the attachments (raga) and aversions (dwesha) to which we are all so prone. The ceaseless chatter of my mind was stilled, first in formal meditation  and subsequently in my wider life.  I found a deep and pervasive stillness and peace within myself, and a clarity of mind that would be impossible without taking the time to stop and simply be.  I developed a more tangible awareness of my chakras and began to truly experience the subtle movement of energy around my body. In truth, I became a different person.

But over the years, it became harder to maintain such an intense daily practice.  Long working days, marriage and parenting made it difficult, if not impossible, to find an hour a day to meditate, as well as another hour for asana practice. At first, I found that with missing the occasional day, I was able to maintain the benefits. But of course, with motherhood, I rarely had time to sit in formal meditation. I continued to chant, and to practice mindfulness, but it wasn’t entirely the same.  My sitting would get interrupted, and I learned to deal with the interruptions in a mindful way, but my practice wasn’t so profound.  Over time, that inner peace started to become more and more elusive.

I missed my daily practice dreadfully.  Whilst I loved my new life, the challenges that parenting sometimes presented would have been so much easier to deal with from that calm, centred place within.  And finally, it became essential for me to renew my commitment to my yoga, and to my meditation, in order to regain my full self.  Going back to a daily practice has been a revelation,  all over again.  I have been reminded of the healing and nurturing that can happen in deep meditation.  In meditation, in the stillness, I become fully aware of the work I  need to do on a physical and an emotional level;  I become aware of specific Safety Energy Locks (SELs) that are in need of some attention.  So as well as providing me with a tremendous sense of space and peace, my meditation practice also informs my asana practice and my Jin Shin Jyutsu practice too.  So much valuable information which would be hidden in the hubbub of daily life, but which makes itself heard in the silence of meditation.  Once again, I find an increased equanimity and a capacity to deal more calmly with the challenges of my daily life.  Once again, my intuition is enhanced.  So whilst I stand by the belief that something is better than nothing when it comes to yoga, and empathise fully with anyone who, like me,  has found their practice gradually squeezed out by other commitments, there does come a time when we all have to find a way to move our practice  forwards again, and to fully commit to that.