Meditation can bring more joy and peace into your life, so why not give it a try now? By Swami Saradananda
As a yoga practitioner since before it was fashionable, my first meditation experience was the result of a friend telling me about an ashram in Quebec where I could practice intensively. When I arrived there, I found that, in addition to asana classes, I would be required to take part in two meditation sessions daily.
Although I had no idea what meditation was, I showed up and waited patiently for the ‘class’ to begin. I noticed the other participants just sat there cross-legged with shawls over their heads and eyes closed. After half an hour, they got up and left without saying a word.
Like many people, my original impression of meditation was that it was sitting around doing nothing. Since that time, I’ve found this to be far from the truth. It would be more accurate to say meditation is a positive state of mind in which you are fully focused on the experience, the eternal ‘now’.
In today’s world, meditation and mindfulness have become popular tactics to cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Yet many people who attempt to establish a regular practice, don’t continue.
In the more than 40 years I have taught yoga and meditation, I often watch people try to meditate and note the problems they are having – or complications they mention to me afterwards. It seems that, no matter how much people think they want to meditate, they are often deterred from practicing because it is too uncomfortable. Other commonly cited deterrents are: no time, lack of self-discipline, tendency to fall asleep, distractions of modern lifestyles and not knowing how to meditate.
As the nature of the mind tends to be restless, inner peace can seem elusive. The average person has millions of thoughts each day. Each mental wave generates countless other vrittis (fluctuations of the mind) and also produces a response in your body. Multi-tasking is an illusion; your mind actually only focuses on one thing at a time.
One traditionally-quoted analogy for the mind is that of a lake. When the water is agitated by waves, it is difficult to see what is really there. When the water is still, you can see to the bottom clearly. The same is true of your mind; as it calms you begin to see and experience inner peace. Your life becomes joyful. What more could you ask of meditation?