Google ‘Meditation’ and you will find pages and pages of content that talk about the hows and whys of meditation being amazing. But unless you have tried it you won’t know what you are missing.
You perhaps won’t get it the first or even the second-third-fourth time. It may take several sessions before you actually get the hang of this amazing mental exercise. But once you do, there is no going back from it. It’s a positive kind of addiction that really does wonders.
But I wasn’t always so gung-ho about meditation. In fact, I discovered it because I had little choice in the matter.
How I used to feel about it all
I wasn’t very big on yoga. It always felt slow for an impatient soul like me. Meditation, I believed, was far worse. It was just sitting like a statue with your eyes closed. How boring!
These were my thoughts when my mother took me to a yoga class one early morning (it was 6:00 am) on a Sunday (of all days). At age eleven, I was grumpy because I couldn’t sleep late – impatient as any kid would be that age and bored out of my mind because people around me were just slow.
I remember fidgeting and moving around, and my mother giving me the typical MOM EYES that said ‘stop it or else…’ I also remember her telling me that yoga is good for my lungs as I was asthmatic, and it would improve my flexibility and strength.
Nope. Wasn’t really interested in all that because it didn’t seem important to me at the time.
Well, the following Sunday I just downright fussed and refused to go. To me yoga was a ridiculous notion at the time.
Fast forward a few years to college
Living in a hostel away from my parents and, horror of horrors – there was a compulsory subject: YOGA. And not just any yoga, but the slow kind which we had to go to early morning, three times a week for an hour, taking a bus to campus. OH, MAN!
Well, if I needed that grade I had to show up. But this time, things were different. All participants were my age, grumbling while rubbing the sleep in their eyes. The first week, the professors took things slowly because not all of us were flexible, let alone willing. There was more focus on breathing exercises, which strangely felt kinda nice. Then there were the short 10-minute meditation sessions. In fact, listening to the calm voice of one of the professors as he guided us through the exercise; it was oddly satisfying.
Here’s how it all happened:
The Instructions of Meditation
It began with us sitting cross-legged or in a padmasana pose, our palms down on our knees, straight back, eyes shut, and just quiet.
Then the voice:
Breath in – breath out. Breath in – breath out.
You will be having some thoughts now. Don’t dwell on them.
Move on to the next thought.
Like a page in a book, just glance over the page and turn it.
Each thought is just a page. Turn it.
Keep turning till you have no more pages to turn.
Now there is nothing but a dot, a point in front of you.
You can see nothing but the dot.
Just focus on that dot while breathing in and breathing out.
Focus for as long as you can.
If any thoughts come, just turn that page.
And now, it’s time to come back.
Rub your palms together and place them on your eyelids.
Gently open them and just relax a moment.
And Oh! It felt so good to just relax after that session. Just feeling fresh in the morning, feeling ready to take on the day and what’s to come.
A Few Weeks Later
A few weeks later, I got a hang of flipping the pages of my thought book faster to reach the focus point. I was actually getting good at it and my concentration was improving during the day. The meditation sessions were now 20 minutes long. I was able to sleep better at night, my breathing improved, my posture was better and I felt great.
I would feel fresh throughout the day and felt calm, collected.
A few more weeks later, during the grading sessions, the Yoga test was a breeze and I got an easy A through my spotless attendance and doing the exercises asked.
It was a win-win really because not only did I feel good but also got good overall grades.
And then came Shavasana – A different type of meditation
We were then introduced to another variant of meditation – Shavasana. Or as we called it, the corpse exercise.
We had to just lie on our backs with our limbs loose by our sides, eyes shut and meditate. As the prof would ask us to instruct each limb to sleep until it was just us and our thoughts, it was a struggle between actually staying awake and falling asleep. We had a tough time just keeping a straight face because five minutes in we could hear soft random snores.
Most of us had fallen asleep at some point in time. There were a few regular offenders and some chronic snorers. But it was deathly simple and again oddly satisfying.
A Few Months Later
I began going for the classes every day, the additional days were optional and a few of us turned into Yoga junkies. Actually, I would go for the meditation sessions really, the perfect way to cool down after exercises and a great way to start the day.
This class would happen in the carpeted auditorium and we would carry a towel at the time which acted as a Yoga mat. These days, after several trials, I have the perfect yoga mat. It’s not too soft, not too hard and just right. It is so good that I got two.
Anyways, back then, after a few months, the Yoga profs wanted to conduct a study with a doctor – The effects of regular Yoga practice on students. I was the first among the willing volunteers. The study was to go on for a month where the before and after-effects would be measured. This included lung capacity and stamina among others, followed by an interview by the doctor. It was an interesting experience.
Years later, I believe meditation can work wonders.
I wouldn’t say I practice meditation as regularly as I did or even as I should. But when I do sit down and meditate, it is a calm peaceful way to deal with the stresses of the day.
There was a time in my life where I was at an all-time low and it was meditation that calmed the noise in my mind to get through things. Something as simple as calm breaths and thought control can not only give strength but also peace to deal with things.
Any gosh so the stresses pile up! The never-ending flow of problems and crises just doesn’t seem to slow down, let alone stop. Our minds have turned into volumes of books thanks to overthinking. So, it’s time to just sit down and just breathe.
It’s time to take stock of all our random, necessary, hyped, and passing thoughts. It’s time to get through that real page-turner of our mind – and get to peace.