One of the best ways to gain access to our soul and become truly happy is to practice sitting in silence. While diet and lifestyle changes definitely begin to reshape our energy and improve our wellness, it’s meditation, and begin able to feel or inner sensations, that really alter the deeper patterning in our mind. With time, our spiritual practice is what can catalyze big changes in our consciousness, and move us closer to our birthright—knowing who we really are.
About a decade ago, I was a young woman, living alone in a foreign country, beginning to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I had undergone several incredibly stressful events all around the same time—a divorce from my Spanish husband (my main connection to that foreign land), a change in jobs from owning a ramshackle beach bar to working in a technology company amongst some of the smartest people I’d ever met, and a solo move from one city in Spain to another.
Amidst my new life of company dinners, marble mansions and free-flowing champagne, I began having panic attacks. I’d never even heard of a panic attack before. I just thought I was dying. My boss at the time was also a somewhat shadily licensed psychologist (yes, the CEO of the tech company). He began handing me Valium from his cushy office in our Marbella mansion-cum-company headquarters. His exact words to me were, “You are probably just dehydrated and bored. You need to party more—come out with us—have a few more drinks, and just have fun. All this panic attack stuff will blow over.”
Thank God there was something in me that said, “Stop taking these pills. And stop drinking.” I began praying. I prayed to Jesus, the God that had loved me as a little girl. I had heard yoga also helped calm you down, so I signed up for local classes a few weeks after trashing the Valium. That class saved me. I went to it almost every night for six months. Most of the classes ended with a short prayer and meditation. My panic attacks mostly subsided, and as I breathed into my body for perhaps the first time in my life, I felt something waking up inside of me—a force that I knew could, and would, eventually change me into who I was meant to become. A few years later, I found my current teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, and I have been practicing meditation daily since our meeting.
I know my story probably isn’t much different from yours. I know many women who claim that yoga saved their lives. But I believe meditation to be our missing link to deeper healing. Plus, science has pretty much confirmed that meditation is a cure-all. Studies show that it has been successful in treating high blood pressure, heart disease, migraine headaches, autoimmune diseases, obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression and hostility. It also has been shown to increase happiness, cause relaxation, augment our ability to pick up on the emotions of others and improve attention and memory. Why would anyone not want to meditate? I want to share a few of the techniques and practices I have learned from my lineage, and my own body’s experience. These mediations were crucial in my own healing journey, and I know that they have the possibility to shape your experience as well.
The first thing to understand is that these meditations work from some core principles within Ayurvedic and yogic understandings. These principles are:
- A lot of our misery comes from the unconscious stuff sitting beneath our surface thoughts.
- Wherever your focus goes, energy flows.
- When you focus your energy, your mind will get more quiet and focused, allowing you to see what is under the surface of your daily thoughts.
- When you pull something up from the unconscious, it no longer has as much power over you.
- Meditation eventually leads us to deeper and subtler layers of who we are. One of the deepest layers is called the anandamaya kosha—the body of bliss.
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