Though I am from the land of yoga and meditation but until now I cared two hoots about it.Recent developments and extra load at the work has taken a toll on me. I have been finding it very hard to concentrate, there is something always always at the back of my mind. Even when I am jotting down this blog, pressing the keys furiously, I am thinking of myriad things .The brain is a wonderful organ but sometimes it needs to be tamed so as you can tell yourself that you are the master of your body and your thoughts. People have varied reasons for meditation, some do it for relaxation, some for calmness and tranquility, serenity of their being, some to reach the inner conscience , some want to talk to their inner self and some are just aping others as they don’t have anything else to do. Trust me I met a lady in the class of the last kind.
My reason is that I can’t concentrate and want to learn how to focus on one thing at a time.
The teacher Andrew Shykofsky is a 48 year old guy who teaches and practices meditation part time apart from his daily full time job as a marketing person in some company. $ 20 is quite steep for a single class, but then too I though let’s give it a try.
First of all he removed all the wrong definitions of meditation from my brain. He gave me the dictionary definition, which is thinking deeply and focusing on something for a period of time for religious , spiritual or method of relaxation. I understand the religious and the method of relaxation part but not the spiritual one. Spiritual, as far as I understand pertains to the inner self and your soul. So if one wants connection to inner self then one meditates for spiritual reasons.
I was also asked not to expect anything unless I practice a lot, its not about deciphering the codes and omens, or dream sequence interpretation ,also some shadow of calmness will not engulf me suddenly after meditation. Its like learning a new language , so one has to draw a parallel with the speed and effect of meditations. In nutshell, I will not be jettisoned into a world of concentration and self awareness, it will take time.
I have read about how to meditate online and have one or two android apps on my nexus, but sparingly used. All of them talk about breathing deeply and lotus positions or the padmasana.Of course, they are important and have scientific connection . But for a person like me who sits on a chair whole day and spends around 16 hours in front of a computer, it will be hard for me to sit cross legged for one and a half hour and then concentrate on something simultaneously. The physical pain is one of the most powerful stimuli and winning it over is not what a neophyte like me is looking for. Andrew also agreed with me and to my surprise he had chairs in his room instead of mats. The chairs were comfortable and the seam of the chair left the thigh at just the right length. One should not be totally taut his back, but it should be attentive and not slouchy and sluggish posture. Of course, you don’t want to fall asleep or do you? 🙂
The mental awareness, the physical/body awareness and the emotional awareness are the three parts that will be concentrated upon by the meditation. He said it is the general notion that mind controls everything but there are people who meditate and feel that the true consciousness lies in the upper torso of the body. And he said he can teach us to do so. I was excited.
So, after the theory it was time for practice. I had taken my shorts with me, which I always carry as shorts are the most suited and most comfortable invention of the guy whose pants were torn and tattered , of course below the knee .I had already changed to shorts before the session started.
The meditation session started with dimming of the lights and some transcendental music in the background.Before this Andrew asked me to think of something which I would like to think and focus upon. It can be anything, any relation of mine, any mantra, any face etc. Many articles talk about focusing on the breath, which seems to be very boring to me. So, if I am meditating or trying to meditate I will have to treat my body as a child who doesn’t want to drink milk and his mother puts protinex or complan in it to make him do so. So, I thought of some unconventional thing and closed my eyes relaxing my body slowly . The relaxation of body is important, not all of a sudden , but one by one. Start with the feet, then calves, knees, thighs, then upper torso . He had asked me to focus on my breath side by side and breathe deeply while observing the inflation and deflation of the lungs and the abdomen. That’s too much work . I tried taking in deep breaths but then my mind started thinking of something else esp. have I received a text on my phone or not? What will I cook on going back etc.
So I let go of deep breaths, concentrated on the task at hand aka thinking and focusing on an already decided thought. I in general take fairly deep breaths.
I would not say that I was successful in concentrating for the whole period, my mind wandered a lot but yes after a while the speed of the thoughts was less. One has to build a wall between yourself and the mind imagining that it is in some other room and you can shut and open the door to that room at your will. After concentrating, focusing for 15-20 min he asked me to open my eyes and discuss how I felt.
I felt a little sleepy for a while, but yes I was able to concentrate keeping other thoughts at bay at least for few seconds. This needs to be consolidated and practiced enough to experience the true power and taste the fruit. After all, meditation is not any low hanging fruit for me.
PS : Generally I am very critical about teachers and want people who are absolutely flawless in their knowledge to teach me. I have had few such teachers in past, One was Rahul Vohra who taught me chemistry ,another one was Amitava Sengupta who mentored me in National Physical Lab, New Delhi.
Andrew reads from a manual which spoils the fun of learning a new subject .Again, its a personal opinion .I am not undermining the 30 years of experience in this subject which he brings on the table with him.