I’ve never been an advocate of meditation; in fact, I was somehow against it, not really understanding why someone would need to stop thinking in order to solve a problem they had. Because really, that is what I thought meditation was, and I have so little patience, I would rather get things moving instead of stopping every day to try and fix something without really getting anything done.
But what has been happening to me lately has changed my opinion on it. See, for the past year, I have been getting into yoga; I started being “serious” about it -and by “serious”, I mean getting onto my mat every now and then during the week- since last May, when the exam period was approaching. I stumbled upon the YouTube channel of an American girl, Sarah Beth Yoga, and watched her 15-minute yoga routines to let the stress off my shoulders and back. I got addicted to it quite fast; first of all, because she is good at teaching, and because it made me feel incredibly focused and peaceful. I would pair it with a long and slow jogging session, and I would study not only faster, but also better. I felt so much clarity. All my negative energy and stress was released, and I could put all my attention into whatever task needed it. When I look back at it, I can honestly say I enjoyed my exams period, because I found some balance thanks to yoga.
Then my daily schedule changed once, twice, and more. I would leave my practice for a few weeks, and go back to it when I felt like it, and it always taught me great things. From my own experience, yoga instructors often say you should adapt the poses to what feels good to you, since you always have to start somewhere; and the person next to you or behind you might be more advanced than you are, or a beginner. In Sarah’s words, “Take what works for you, and leave the rest behind”.
And this is exactly why I love yoga: we’re all different, right? Some of us are more flexible, some stronger, some more motivated, some more inclined to relaxing… And of course, some days are better than others. And as I gathered, a yoga instructor’s job is also to remind their yoginis of such priceless information. In fact, think about it: if you focus on yourself once in a while, and do what you ought to do, if it makes you happy and energized, the positive waves will shine out of you. Roald Dahl said it, and so did many more.
In the end, making your own choices in a yoga practice will become a habit, and I believe you will more likely make the right ones in your daily life.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself traveling the marvelous roads of New Zealand.
And no later than last week, I had the chance to be at the right place, at the right moment. I got to be among Geshe Jampa Tarchin’s students for a day. He is a Buddhist monk, coming from Tibet but settled in a meditation center in New Zealand. The day was filled with wisdom, meditation, questions, and quite surprisingly, laughter. I sat down there on my cushion, scanning the Geshe’s gestures and listening to this language I had never heard before, trying to write as much information as I could in my mind.
With his words and stories, he made me realize that, just like yoga, meditation teaches you how to feel what’s deep inside of you. When you stop for a second, take time to breathe and become more aware of what’s happening both inside and out your body, you get to find the answers you never knew you were looking for. The goal is to expand your mind, your view on things, understand them from afar, see them from the distance, as objectively as possible, and put them back into your life – this life you were given the opportunity to experience, in our Universe, in our Solar System, on our Planet, on this continent, in this country, in this place, in this room, at this very moment.
Meditation isn’t doing nothing, it’s being brave enough to sit down and listen to what’s happening inside your head. It’s giving our minds a break from all the stimulation they get and giving our neurons the opportunity to organize themselves, draw conclusions, and stear us onto the right path, in the right direction.
Some say meditation is supposed to help you be happier. Most argue that meditation makes you more peaceful and more compassionate with others and thus better at dealing with the world and its everyday challenges. Is that true? Science does say so, but when do we feel that, exactly?
One important thing I also learned is that the ability to meditate doesn’t come overnight; no, meditation requires time, and patience. A lot of patience. We all lack patience. Is this the reason why we don’t practice it? Well, I guess I’ll meditate on that…