This article’s aim is to help you get started with your own meditation practice. My favourite definition of yoga is: Yoga is Samadhi. Samadhi is a state of bliss and union with the infinite, which is arrived at through meditation. Yoga and meditation are therefore inextricably linked.
First of all, why should we meditate? On a practical, scientific level, meditation has been shown to improve concentration, reduce feelings of stress, decrease depression and improve immunity. It brings a feeling of calm and peace into our day and helps us deal with the demands of daily life. Some very compelling reasons to start a meditation practice!
By Anne Cousin
It is easy to get caught up in the details of our lives, even suffering and losing sleep when we perceive that we have no solution to the problems we face. We can too easily forget about joyfulness of living, that aliveness itself has an essentially joyful quality.
I often guide and advise clients into slowing down, deeply sensing and feeling into their body aliveness. This is a form of Somatic meditation. Somatic means that we relate to the body. There are many ways to do this, as each person has their own unique inner resources and intelligence.
For example, every pleasurable activity can be turned into a doorstep toward gratitude, by taking a moment to notice how it feels, acknowledging its ripples in ones sense of wellness, nourishment. As we experience this the body relaxes, the brain begins secreting new hormones of wellbeing, in a what we could call a virtuous cycle. We cultivate presence, mindfulness or body-fullness.
This simple practice to shift perspective, even 5 minutes a day as a start, has a profound effect on our brain chemistry and body. Our brain has a natural tendency to register and focus on potential threats. In a given moment, we experience feeling weak or being in fear or discomfort. Yet this is only one-side of the picture— we can expand our awareness to include other perceptions. There is always a possibility to shift perspective and to feel better.
By Michael Hallock — Fivelements Wellness Curator
Sometimes people consider meditation and sport as mutually exclusive. Their thinking is that some people are the type to meditate and others are the type to play sports. After all, we usually think of meditation as sitting still with closed eyes, while sports is all about action. While there can sometimes be a divide between those two worlds, there is more and more overlap as professional athletes bridge that gap and develop peak performance through meditation and mindfulness.
What they find out is that meditation improves their focus. The meditative concept of being “in the present moment” translates directly into being more present to the game, less distracted by thoughts, emotions. Exactly what is needed to play well is what meditation teaches us — be present, be attentive, “keep your eye on the ball” as they say.
After you practice for some time, you’ll notice that meditation helps “emotional regulation” too. That is, we learn not to “sweat the small stuff”. Which means that we are less deflected by a loss of a point or a referee or judge’s decision. We learn to maintain our determination without wasting time and energy by beating ourselves up or throwing a John McEnroe style tantrum. We develop a kind of relentless perseverance, and we get back in the game.
Into the Light, Fivelements monthly meditation and spiritual teaching series
Topics like morality, biopsychology, how to have a meaningful life, fasting, Tantra, yogic science and the mystery of creation are all on the table and can take an infinite number of paths depending on the personal experiences shared.
Through his satsang talks, Balinese spiritual teacher Acharya Vibhakarananda Avadhuta (Dada), provides an opportunity to do just that. To feel yourself rise above the cares of the week, absorb the calming energy of the natural world around you, and deepen your understanding of what it means to live with the spirit of love, harmony and human progress.
“A few years ago, I remember meeting a man in Bali who told me that after 10 years living in Nepal and studying meditation under a more rigid style, he came to Bali, met Merta Ada and started practicing silent meditation together. After experiencing the programme, he found himself completely blown away realising that what was missing from his previous meditation studies was ‘the experience of self-Love.’
As surprising as it sounded, it hit me like a thunderbolt! I simply had to try this programme firsthand and when I did, I quickly understood what that man had meant. From then on, it became my mission to support this master meditation teacher, Merta Ada, and offer his self-healing Bali Usada Silent Meditation Retreat to a wider international audience at Fivelements. In particular, I envisioned participants coming from all over the world sharing a common thread – all living demanding lifestyles and in positions of influence or leadership (whether in the family or in business) and thus, able to effect positive change within their worlds with these teachings.
- Before you start, put in your mind, “Meditation is attainable for me.” It is not difficult.
Meditation is about training the mind, eg. When you want to ride a bicycle, you keep trying and after practicing awhile, you can do it, then it becomes easier and easier.
Sit in a relaxed position for your body - on the floor or on a chair.
- Choose an object of focus that makes you feel good, e.g.: breathing, a mandala painting or a photo/image, etc.
Use this as a tool to bring harmony and love to your mind.
Use it as a way to bring about concentration and mindfulness.
- Turn your vision inward and observe your breathing.
By observing your breathing, you will calm your mind naturally.
Observe the fickle-mindedness of your mind coming in and fading away, bringing about a steady concentration.
Allow your concentration to turn into contemplation and slowly, you will forget about both yourself and any form, effortlessly blossoming into meditation.
- Become a source of love and light.
Once your calm mind is steady, let love permeate within you and around you like a radiant light.
- For healing, gently direct your thoughts to make your body healthy, alleviate your mind of stress, send your love to someone in suffering, etc.
Bring inner wisdom to your mind so that it becomes increasingly harmonious, and use this for healing the body, trauma or others in your life.
- Let go and let spirit in.
The practice of meditation will train your mind to become good, full of love – enough to heal yourself and others.
Ultimately, there will be no Form, only Atma or soul in union with the Divine.
• Articulated by Lahra Tatriele, Co-founder & Vision Director, Fivelements.
• Inspired by spiritual teachers from India and Bali.
“A harmonious mind makes your body healthy, your mind peaceful and gives you happiness.”
Are you tempted by five days of blissful silence? Last year Lahra Tatriele joined Merta Ada’s silent retreat and emerged with new self-healing skills. “It is extraordinary,” she says. “I’d do it every year if I could.” She loved it so much she invited Merta Ada to lead the Bali Usada Silent Meditation Retreats at Fivelements. She explains what it is all about…
From the first night you follow noble silence, which lasts for five of the six retreat days. You’re not allowed a computer or phone, book, paper or pen. There’s nothing to read, write or say, and removing those three things is huge. You get to see yourself in a quiet way, without writing things down, without purging on someone else. It sounds die-hard but it’s actually not that difficult.