Each morning I do some yoga stretches (although right now I’m 21/40 days in of archer pose, it’s brilliant) and then I sit down and mediate for just over 20 minutes, Sat Nam Wahe Guru. I may mediate at other times of the day though the morning is a special time, it’s quiet, I’m not rushing around getting things done or thinking of my most important tasks of the day, I’m just there, to be.
Although sometimes lately and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s colder now we’re in Winter and this has happened before but each time after meditation I am fired up. My chest is heavy and I’m practically having some sort of heart palpitation movement going on that I can go only control by breathing deeply which I’ve already failed at, for twenty minutes?
This seems a strange thing to admit, after all I am a yoga teacher now, but I’m just being honest and I wanted to share something cool I read too.
In Steering by Starlight, Martha Beck talks about being a naturally nervous person who has dealt with and still does, high anxiety. I’ve known this about her before – I can raise my hand in relation to this!
I used to think and tell people that meditation has made me feel calmer in day to day interactions and activities. It has, especially at work or with family members. It also helps me see the bigger picture, go into problem solving mode serenely and keep faith that everything is working out as it is supposed to, through everything just breathe more.
Then I read this and it made me think more deeply about meditation and yoga:
‘Scholars like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Gregory Berns and Ellen Langer, who study human happiness, concur that we are most centred and blissful ‘in the zone’, when we’re intensely focused on something that is almost too hard or scary to do’.
When I read that I was brought to memories of Kundalini classes that were intense, like doing three minutes of jumping jacks so enthusiastically when everyone else was dropping out that year at the Great British Kundalini festival with Gurmukh. So much of Kundalini pushes you past that limit of your ‘self seeing it as hard’ to show you your self is infinite, there is no limit, only what the mind projects or puts there, that’s the beauty of it.
It also relates to the book Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers.
Martha goes on to write in the book her experience of being at a brain mapping research facility, when the researchers left her alone with electrodes, she tried a few things out to really see how to bring her anxiety waves down. Firstly she tried the calm observer state she went into in meditation, did that work? – No! From that she noticed another electrical signal went up (theta waves) indicating that she was relaxed but her anxiety was still high.
This is exactly what I was talking about with my own meditation practice, with stress in my body it’s as if I bring things forward like, will I find a parking space today or my car is getting fixed again, not verbally or even thought just felt. Meditation just brings a nice big cushion in the space for those things.
Anyway so on Martha went with her experiment, meditation didn’t work so what next? She began thinking random thoughts, going through memories and looking at her brain waves. Then she noticed a pattern, her anxiety levels dropped when she remembered situations that would fill her with anxiety, such as speaking to large audiences, being in serious physical danger and so on. The more high risk situation imagined, the less anxiety her brain produced! A place beyond fear.
Think about it, when we recall something we were nervous or anxious about and we watch ourselves have accomplishment and victory, we watch ourselves get through that moment and come out fine, isn’t that wonderful? Like the times I used be petrified to drive further out as my instructor showed me a way through fear or when lost while trying to find the way to go at an airport while travelling to Prague, I wanted to cry in despair and crawl home, then walked forward and found an information booth. We went into a space where it was all possible, we felt fear or worry and did it anyway.
Similar to times where all hell has broken loose and yourself or someone beside you is going through that situation and one of you is panicked and the other is totally calm. Like when the cash point swallows your card when in India or you lose your travel card while out and are left with nothing. Leaving one of you shouting ‘How are you SO CALM when you’re usually SO WORRIED all the time?’
This brought me forward full circle to what I was doing in meditation and how I could help myself. Firstly the words I was using give out a big clue, here’s them broken down Sat (true) Nam (name, infinity), Wahe (wow) Guru (guidance from dark to light). So as I sat down breathing and saying these words I didn’t exactly go through memories of the past (as I want to stay present at this time) but as I focus on infinity and the expansiveness of the wondrous Lord Wahe Guru who and by living in the way of, has no fear or hate and is undying. Totally infinite. Doing so I have felt light, my chest pains have lifted and I can get ‘in a blissful zone’. It’s as if my worries are handed over, to pardon the common expression, to Wahe Guru or God.
It takes stillness, practice and patience but when you next meditate, notice subtle changes when you focus on infinity and the place beyond fear. Experiment!