Have you ever tried to meditate? If you have, you may have thought to yourself, "How on earth am I meant to empty my mind and sit completely still?" That's assuming you've even found the quiet time to meditate at all!
Many people seem to think you need to have a dedicated quiet room with no interruptions. No wonder it's hard if these are the expectations. Until a few years ago, even after many years of teaching yoga, I felt the same: 'Why won't my mind shut up? Why does my back hurt after only a few moments? I forgot to send that email off'. You get the picture ...
That was until I discovered there is a form of meditation that is thousands of years old. There, meditation is the flow of your life: the vibrancy, the reality and the shimmering core of your being. It is not about disassociating yourself and rising above things. You simply ask yourself the question: what do you LOVE in your life? Walking in the fresh air, laughing with a loved one, practicing yoga, swimming, dancing, playing with your children? This is called 'Spanda': the rhythmic, pulsing, shimmering vibrancy of life around you. It's the realisation that the human experience, the fire in your belly, the lust, the passion and every intense experience that comes your way IS your meditation.
Finding out about Spanda was the penny-drop moment for me. Realising I was already beautifully in sync, and that meditation isn't the preserve of some secret sect of distant yogis who have got it, while I (and you, and almost every "ordinary" human being) haven't. It's here -- right now -- because it's you. It's you when you breathe consciously, show gratitude and enjoy the simple things in your life that bring happiness. You're meditating while dancing, while practicing yoga, while laughing. These techniques come from the ancient Tantric knowledge that establishes an understanding of everything in our world as living and breathing as one. The Sanskrit word tantra comes from the same root that gives us the words 'intend', 'attend' and 'stretch'. Our notions of being tight, of holding tension, anger and frustration are the opposite of the notion of tantra where you find what you intend to find, give it attention and then (physically and spiritually) stretch. Tantra describes us as awakening to the pulsating life-force, like an electric current vibrating within us, right now.
Having given birth to my daughter 18 months ago, I realised I had to make a conscious choice to truthfully and authentically go with the flow. I knew I was not going to have time to sit in silence and have 'me time'. My meditation had to be in the moment, and co-exist with the vibrancy of the new life around me. This brought me closer to my daughter in two ways: I incorporated meditation into the routine of my day so I was calmer, but also the act of this type of meditation made me more childlike. Children naturally meditate: they live in the moment, thinking little of the past or future. Now, I love to state my intention for the day in those first moments of waking up. I offer to devote myself to my beautiful daughter and her well-being, to my partner and to my life as it is in that moment. If a challenge arises, I know I have to find my breath and center myself. Of course, it doesn't always work. But as tantra suggests, it's the intention that counts. I've given up trying to observe, witness and rise above. I try now to connect, transform and just be.
As a teacher, I aim to allow my students to FEEL yoga, not just do yoga. Therefore the meditation part is the pose, the breath, the difficulty, the discipline: because it is not about trying to be perfect, it is about accepting what and who you are in that moment, and opening to the vibrancy within. While training new yoga teachers, I aim to help them to find their own voice, not repeat mine, as this will allow them to be authentic and therefore connected with whom and what they teach.
So next time you would like to try meditation, meditate on what moves you, what makes you feel whole, what you love and what creates warmth and passion in your life. Begin tomorrow morning with a few deep, honest breaths -- then take a moment to create a Sankalpa or intention for your day. By giving your intention to another, you can actually be more energetic, as meditation harnesses your strength instead of depleting it. Then, at certain moments throughout your (probably busy, hectic) day, take time to remember your intention, your vibrancy and what keeps you uplifted. This way you begin to be more present, without focusing on back pain or unsent emails in your 'monkey mind'! It's all you, a meditation on your unlimited vibrancy and the flow of life.
To be in rhythm with our life is to be one. It is to see the interconnection, the thread that seals the union of us all. At the risk of sounding like a hippie: the breath of life, the sweetness, the sukham...