One of the best ways to gain access to our soul and become truly happy is to practice sitting in silence. While diet and lifestyle changes definitely begin to reshape our energy and improve our wellness, it’s meditation, and being able to feel our inner sensations, that really alter the deeper patterning in our minds. With time, a spiritual practice is what can catalyze big changes in our consciousness, and move us closer to our birthright— knowing who we really are.
About a decade ago, I was a young woman living alone in a foreign country, beginning to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I had undergone several incredibly stressful events all around the same time—a divorce from my Spanish husband (my main connection to that foreign land); a change in jobs, from owning a ramshackle beach bar to working in a technology company with some of the smartest people I’d ever met; and a solo move from one city in Spain to another.
In my new life of company dinners, marble mansions, and free-flowing champagne, I began having panic attacks. I’d never even heard of a panic attack before. I just thought I was dying. My boss at the time was also a somewhat shadily licensed psychologist (yes, the CEO of the tech company). He began giving me Valium. His exact words to me were, “You are probably just dehydrated and bored. You need to party more. Come out with us, have a few more drinks, and just have fun. All this panic attack stuff will blow over.”
Thank God there was something in me that said, “Stop taking these pills. And stop drinking.” I began praying. I prayed to Jesus, the God that had loved me as a little girl. I had heard yoga also helped calm you down, so I signed up for local classes a few weeks after trashing the Valium. That class saved me. I went to it almost every night for six months. Most of the classes ended with a short prayer and meditation. My panic attacks mostly subsided, and as I breathed into my body for perhaps the first time in my life, I felt something waking up inside of me—a force that I knew could, and would, eventually change me into who I was meant to become. A few years later, I found my current teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, and I have been practicing meditation daily since our meeting.
I know my story probably isn’t much different from yours. I know many women who claim that yoga saved their lives. But I believe meditation is our missing link to deeper healing. Plus, science has pretty much confirmed that meditation is a cure-all. Studies show that it has been successful in treating high blood pressure, heart disease, migraine headaches, autoimmune diseases, obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression, and hostility. It also has been shown to increase happiness, cause relaxation, augment our ability to pick up on the emotions of others, and improve attention and memory.1 Why would anyone not want to meditate? I want to share a few of the techniques and practices I have learned from my lineage, and my own body’s experience. These mediations were crucial in my own healing journey, and I know that they have the possibility to shape your experience as well.
The first thing to understand is that these meditations work from some core principles within Ayurvedic and yogic understandings. These principles are:
So, we meditate not just to get quiet, but also to experience inner bliss. If you close your eyes and get really quiet, you can feel that power starting to reveal itself. Seriously, close your eyes. Put your hand on your throat. Feel it? There is a pulse there—a kind of moving, vibrational quality of aliveness that doesn’t feel totally physical. Just watching the ever-changing pulses in our bodies has the potential to open us to new inner experiences that melt fear and boost joy.
Keep going downward with your focus, and notice your belly. Do you feel alive, or is it dark or numb there? With time, you may start to notice that there is a wavelike beat in your belly. There is a secret rhythm sitting there, a gentle internal movement presence that, if accompanied by a sweet attitude of just watching, opens up inner chambers previously unvisited.
Like anything that really matters, meditation will take time and dedication. I find that many of the women I run across in my travels are stoked about the idea of meditation, but when it comes down to actually getting into it, there is resistance. While these practices are fairly simple, you will need to make them a priority if you want to truly experience transformation. No amount of spiritual study, workshop-hopping, or pondering the meaning of life whilst smoking a joint can really get you into the silence the way a daily meditation practice can. That is why I suggest that you pick one meditation and do it every day for at least 40 days. In this way, you will begin to connect with the fruits of practice that may not be as obvious from one practice to the next. It is also a good idea to keep a journal of your daily meditation.
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