Buddha was asked: what have you gained from meditation? he replied, “Nothing, however, let me tell you what I lost; anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
Have you been practicing Yoga and meditation for a while but yet are still dealing with the same unhealthy pattern of choices? you’re not alone. The saying goes, “Yoga is strong medicine but it’s slow medicine”. It may take a while to come to the realization that the wisdom of the eight limbs of Yoga is a guide for daily practice that promotes the union of body, breath and mind.
One of the biggest benefits of meditation is that it increases your awareness of Self, of your thoughts, actions and reactions in the present moment. If you’re thinking what’s so big about that? think about a scenario where you wished your reactions to a situation was different. Because meditation increases one’s awareness in the moment, there’s a pause between thoughts and actions. That pause can be significant, it’s the possibility to pause and choose your reaction rather than just react in an unfavourable manner.
A couple of weeks ago I was struggling with a stream of recurring thoughts about a matter.
I could not move past these thoughts. While sitting in meditation with the idea came from within to take a different approach to the matter. My past reactions to such thoughts would have lead to anger and mental turmoil. These reactions were always a self-inflicted recipe for suffering. I realised that having a certain desirable outcome in this matter was not helpful in maintaining a peaceful state of mind. So what was the point of allowing these thoughts to exhaust me?. I listened to my inner voice and this reminder came to me, “everything works out for my higher good” and I instantly felt a shift within the thoughts. I regained my mental peace and the knowledge that regardless of the situation, I did not need to suffer my thoughts and emotions, I had a choice to turn these thoughts off.
If you’ve been meditating for a while and yet there’s no improved awareness of your actions/reactions and any transformations happening then maybe it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your practice. If you’re still making the same painful choices, it may mean that there’s a disconnect or lack of understanding of how a meditation practice can impact changes in your life. Meditation is a tool that can help you activate the peaceful changes you may be seeking, it’s a practice of action and transformation. The eight limbs of yoga are practices of acceptance, action, peace and joy in order for transformation to occur. We see many people working hard in order to be able to do handstands, well I encourage you to work just as hard with the other eight limbs of Yoga. Becoming a peaceful, grounded and pleasant being is the higher purpose of Yoga practice.
I still struggle at times with why I have the same reactions to some situations after all of these years of practice. But I have the practice and knowledge of the eight limbs for support and for potential transformation. I apply and practice self-discipline (yama) and self observance (niyama), meditation, deep breathing and meditation. The past version of me was completely unaware most times of my actions and reactions, in comparison to the present me. Most times I now have a greater awareness at the moment and or soon after the moment and I can faster self adjust in order to remain calm and peaceful.
Being mentally at peace most of the time is one of the most important practices and focus that I have for my life. I recognise that now because I am tired of how I used to mentally exhaust myself. My self attacks, self-criticism, judgements, harshness and negativity kept me in a painful emotional roller coaster. However, slowly and surely and with determination, the wisdom and practice of Yoga began to seep through my defensive wall and I began to surrender to the transformative effects of the practice.
According to Oprah, what I know for sure is that I choose not to live like that anymore and gratefully have not lived like that for a good while. I am more and more aware of these past patterns and at times I have to remind myself at the moment, to accept certain things and situations, to remember that not getting something or getting my way is OK, heck sometimes it’s an incredible blessing NOT to get something or your way!
If I choose to live a peaceful life, then there can be no room for the self attacks because I would not treat someone I like or love this way and therefore it’s unacceptable to treat myself this way. I deserve my love, friendliness, non-judgement and joy just as much, if not more so than anyone else.
I want to continue to be gentler, kinder and more loving to myself. In doing this work and practice hopefully, I will continue to transform into a more peaceful, content and pleasant being. This can only result in a positive impact on those around me, especially towards my family. When I put these practices into action, it’s an experience that creates a deep and joyful state, which I know now to be priceless and for that, I am truly grateful. I hope some of you can relate to my examples and I encourage you to continue to practice Yoga relaxation, breathing and meditation and you will with time and patience see the changes you may be seeking for a life filled with bliss, ease and wellbeing on most days.
Click on the following link and begin to practice effective systematic relaxation and meditation on insight timer. The app is free to download and these are complementary practices, please feel free to contact me for any further information or assistance.