“If every eight year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence in the world within one generation.”
– Dalai Lama
I used to think that I only began constant meditation this year, not knowing that I’ve actually been doing it already for many moons. Back when I was very active on television, I would attend acting workshops to help me “go within” myself, and dig deep into my emotions. One of the exercises was called “sensitizing” – something that we did to open awareness of our surroundings and get immensely affected by every bit of the environment and thus get our acting more realistic. It was only when I studied more about meditation in Bali that I realized what it truly was. It was a mindfulness exercise, something that a lot of adults constantly want to do nowadays.
Mindfulness has four foundations; one of these is through the body – through our six senses. Yes, six. This is where the “sensitizing” exercise from my workshops kick in. Our six senses according to the foundations of mindfulness are through our skin for the hot, cold, rough, smooth or touch sensations; eyes for our seeing; ears for hearing; nose for smelling; mouth for tasting; and mind for thinking. The rest of the foundations are “Feeling” “Mind” and “Mind Object.”
There are numerous methods of meditation that you can try and then practice what you feel suit you best. So far I’ve tried four types.
The one I learned and constantly practiced when I went to Bali was the Vipasana meditation. Vipasana means “to see things clearly as it is.” How to do this certain type of meditation is to first observe, acknowledge three times, then let go (non-attachment) so you can be in the NOW. Meditation and mindfulness is all about being in the moment and letting go of everything that isn’t. If you want to try this meditation at home, school, the office or anywhere else, begin by sitting down (best if on the floor, cross legged) place your hands on top of one another, close your eyes and sit up straight. Try to quiet your mind by sitting still. Observe the rising and the dropping of your belly as you breathe in and out. Listen to the noise, be aware of your surroundings, be aware of anything you may feel in your body. Make your mind sharp as to catch the present moment. Do this constantly as when you always bring your mind to the present moment it becomes the natural state of your mind.
This type of meditation may seem hard at first; I admit that it took me about a week (practicing three times a day) before I was actually able to shut my mind up and be in the moment. It is a challenge but it is doable.
Another type of meditation is a guided one. I first came across this when I felt lost and confused and needed to take a break. My mind was on overdrive and I needed to calm down. I drove down south and found a place of solitude and booked a healing retreat for myself, one of which had a guided meditation practice. There I learned how to quiet my mind and was guided on how to let go of things that hurt us. I had my eyes closed, and was asked to imagine a big garbage can. There I “threw away” everything that hurt me, angered me and anything else that did not contribute to my happiness. It may sound like nothing as you read it but let me tell you, I felt 1000x lighter after that.
Another type of meditation that I tried was the mantra method. The technique relies on the oral repetition of a sentence, a mantra, one with positive personal significance. You repeat it over and over and over until you feel a sense of calm take over you.
The last type of meditation that I tried was one wherein you light a candle and stare at the flame for a long time, without blinking. And once you hear the sound of the bell, you close your eyes and get lost. I still can’t verbalize what I saw or felt when I did this meditation but it affected me so much that I didn’t realize I was crying so hard until I opened my eyes and everyone was staring at me.
These four types of meditation helped me heal. Whatever angered me or hurt me are no longer there. They are all gone. Imagine if everyone learned how to meditate, perhaps there will really be more peace in the world. And it’s not just all about getting rid of your angst or pain. A regular meditation practice also has increased brain density, a boost in connections between neurons, decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, improved clarity of thought and an increase in endorphins that affect mood as its benefits. Other published studies have also shown that meditation can improve physical functioning and vitality, decrease chronic disease risks, and enhance the overall quality of life.
I am still not in the level of my Yoga Philosophy teacher Arvind Pare (from Mysore, India) or Oliver, another meditation coach I met in Bali, wherein even the way that they spoke had a certain peacefulness in it. But bringing a certain sense of calmness and peace in me is an achievement in itself. I think everyone should give it a try. Give it at least a week. Quieting the mind will be the best thing you can give yourself, especially this holiday break.
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