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“I’ve tried to meditate, but can’t do it; perhaps, it’s just not for me.” I have heard this so many times over the years from my yoga and meditation students. It always makes me smile because I know that everyone can meditate. It’s just that they have not found a ‘way in’ that works for them.
My first attempt to meditate was back in ‘93 when I was going through a difficult divorce. I had just finished my PhD and was a lecturer in the Electronic Engineering Department at the University by day and an engineering consultant at night. These two jobs along with the details of my divorce created so much turmoil in me that my only respite from it all was the 5 hours of dead sleep from sheer exhaustion each night. Finally, an acquaintance suggested that I learn how to meditate as a way of finding some inner peace. At that point, I would have tried anything, so I found a meditation instructor who offered private lessons. However, even after many sessions, I was always too exhausted to stay awake and fell asleep every time. Finally, after a few months, I stopped meditating altogether. I felt a sense of disappointment, and promised myself I’d try meditation again someday.
Many years later, I was in another highly stressful life situation after being laid off from a corporate engineering position. To de-stress, I was working out at my local gym, but I had not been stretching afterwards and consequently my muscles started locking up. The gym offered a 30-minute stretch yoga class around the same time that I had been working out, so I started attending it. I didn’t know what yoga entailed, but I needed to stretch and the class seemed geared toward just that. I not only felt a good stretch in my muscles, but also was experiencing a calm, relaxed feeling after every class.
A couple of months later, still feeling those same benefits from the yoga class, I dusted off that promise from all those years ago, and decided to attempt meditation again. I used a simple candle technique that my meditation instructor taught me, and lo and behold I began experiencing moments of deep peace and stillness inside myself. At the time, I did not know that I was creating these moments of inner peace; I just enjoyed the spacey, relaxed state of being. After all, I had spent most of my life, even during the good times, experiencing various degrees of stress, so what did I know about inner peace. Before meditating, I would do 15 minutes of yoga; it slowed my mind down enough to truly get into the meditation.
To keep it interesting, I invented a game while doing the candle meditation ¾ I would count how long I could hold an image of the candle’s flame in my mind after closing my eyes. Every time, I was able to hold it a little longer than the previous meditation. I didn’t realize until months later that this game helped me attain a deeper meditative state, which had profound effect on me. Over the next year, I, a geeky engineer who didn’t believe in anything spiritual or metaphysical, started practicing and learning more about yoga. This led to other metaphysical and psychic studies as well. Eventually, I started teaching yoga. It’s been a life-changing experience, and as I look back, I see that yoga was my gateway, my ‘way in,’ to meditating.
In my yoga practice, I teach many different meditation techniques that we do while performing the asanas, and then I close with a guided meditation during the final shavasana. Most of the new students are not used to holding a meditative focus throughout the asanas, but they all tell me that they’ve experienced many additional benefits from this practice. For me, the meditative techniques that we do throughout the yoga class are to prepare for the 15-minute guided meditation at the end; this is when the students touch that depth, that spark of divinity inside themselves.
Meditation has been my foundation for personal change. I use the feeling of peace and stillness as a platform to build and shape a new me, or should I say, the real me that was hidden behind the veil we call the ego. I practice meditation daily; I’ve incorporated it into my life, like showering, brushing my teeth, and all of those things we automatically do every day. The difference between all of those practical things that are part of our daily life and my meditation practice is that my meditation continues to evolve as I continue to connect with this inner world.
About 9 years ago, I started receiving insights during my meditations; they are similar to the sutras of ancient times. I use these insights as guidelines to adjust my perception of myself and the world around me. When the insights first came to me, like any good engineer, I immediately focused on coming up with a solid plan, a pragmatic workflow, to apply these insights to my daily life in a way that affected change. I did not want to simply relegate the insights to fridge magnets, Facebook likes, or prints that we hang in our cubicles. Before even considering doing any of those things, I needed to see the results that these profound messages could have on my life. So, I created a simple, practical process to put these insights into action. After several years of gradually changing and growing from this process, I developed a workshop based on the insights and my experience applying them to my life to share with my yoga and meditation students. I also run this workshop for clients in my therapy practice, and have tailored the workshop to conduct stress management courses in small and large companies.
In response to the positive feedback and requests from the workshops, I have paired the insights with images that seem to be the natural counterparts, and publish them as prints, bookmarks, and greeting cards. I’ve also created meditations and new processes to apply the insights our lives, which I recorded on CDs for my yoga students to use between classes.
I know that everyone can connect to the peaceful place that exists in all of us and experience profound life changes. As it was for me, many of my meditation students say that yoga has been their gateway to meditation. If you too do yoga to connect with feelings of inner calmness, you then just need to find a simple meditative technique that enables you to take that next step. If practiced regularly, your meditations will be fulfilling. You do not have to be a spiritual guru to live in this peaceful state of being. I truly believe that if an ordinary electronic engineer who did not believe in anything metaphysical, spiritual, or religious can find and live in this world, anybody can do it.
Try Paul Miller's meditation
If you are looking for a way to start or deepen your daily meditation - take
look at this program by MindValley: bit.ly/YOGIMeditation and the Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction online course by Sounds True: - The YOGI TIMES team