Over the past 5 years, I have been interested in the concept of mindfulness and meditation and how the ‘health’ of our internal landscape, effects how we respond to situations and others in the external world. In my study of meditation, I have been exposed to various meditation techniques and practices through my studies as a yoga teacher, as an Ambassador for a meditation app called Smiling Mind, through professional develop as a primary school teacher exploring the Mindfulness in Schools Project, as well as by travelling to different countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Burma where meditation is a part of the philosophy and culture of its people.
It was not until 2017 however, during a year abroad, that I was introduced to the formal practice, and experienced my first 10-day silent Vipassana in Myanmar. Buddhist meditation was a completely new style of meditation that I had not practiced before.
I remember arriving at the pagoda in Burma, with just a small backpack and minimal belongings. I was shown to a very humble looking room with just a wooden slat for a bed, mosquito net and a bucket for washing our clothes. We were to relinquish all technology including phones and music devices, pens and paper and any reading materials. Still with all these limitations that a Westerner might feel, it was truly the happiest I had ever been in my life. During the days I learnt to live without the feeling of attachment – to family, friends, possessions – and in doing so became even more grateful for the things that I did possess in my life.
I realised that as we get older and our lives become busier and we take on more responsibilities, we become more out of touch with what we are feeling in the present moment and become less attuned to a holistic way of living. We lose touch with how our body is feeling and what it needs, how our emotions impact us and the negative implications this has on our health, wellbeing and our spirit.
Since then, I have explored other meditation styles and continue to study different meditation practices. I believe the meditation that is most accessible and easiest for those to be introduced to are meditation techniques that focus on expanding ones’ awareness ‘outwards’, to find deep relaxation and rest in the body and mind. Some other styles I have heard about include those that have an ‘inward’ focus, meaning they draw the attention of the mind or thoughts by getting someone to recite a mantra or focus on the breath.
My biggest challenge that I faced, to begin a regular meditation practice, was the discipline to set aside some time each day to sit and meditate.
Although currently, I do not sit as regularly as I would like to, I do believe that I practice being aware and mindful every day, whether it’s waiting in line at the supermarket or communicating with someone. I am constantly drawing myself back to the present by noticing and paying attention to sounds, bodily sensations, energy around my body, and taking deep, mindful breaths. I recognise that when I do sit and practice meditation, the outcome is that I am more responsive to loved ones, engage and listen more deeply to others, am much more efficient and focused at work and am able to contemplate thoughts, feelings and verbal actions with more awareness and clarity.
My interest in becoming a meditation teacher, is my belief that everyone should be given the skills to practice meditation, especially in a world that is becoming increasingly overrun by competing information and technology requiring our attention.
In a world where social media seem to be advancing at an alarming rate, technology, which has been promoted as a way to make us feel more connected to each other, has coincidentally, made us feel less connected and sometimes even more stressed and anxious. I believe that meditation is a way for us to step back from our screens, gaze inwards and take time away from the ‘noise’ to re-connect back in with ourselves.
Learning about meditation and various techniques have been a hugely rewarding experience, and I feel that I have found the key to my own happiness. By calming my mind, connecting to my body, discovering my spirituality and finding that balance, I have unlocked the secret to long lasting peace and happiness. I want to be able to teach people that meditation can be done at any moment, at any time and in any place, just by tapping into one’s own awareness of body, sounds, thoughts, feelings and emotions. Take for instance, when someone is walking down the street. Just by feeling the way the air is touching their skin, feeling their feet stepping along the path or listening to the sounds that are happening all around, they are living in the reality of that moment and seeing everything for what it truly is.
I currently run kids yoga classes, that introduces children to 5 key check-in tools for meditation. Once they have and understand these tools, these will be will them for life. I also have developed a Method that takes students through their practices as well as a Method to assess their own wellbeing during individual coaching sessions. Finally, I have developed a Teacher Training Course for others to learn this Method of teaching which is in the final stages of development.
Visit www.Yoga4Feelings.com for more info!