How Peru Going To Football World Cup Can Inspire You To Meditate

My generation did not see Peru in the World Cup. Last time Peru went was June 1982. I was exactly 20 days of birth when the Football World Cup began. Of course, I can´t remember it. But what I remember since being very little is the expression “I will do when Peru is going to Football World Cup!” as ironically, as something that won´t ever happen. We just could not believe that we could reach a World Cup again.

I teach meditation for quite a while now and there is a very recurrent story that students tell me. It is about how they could meditate a long time ago but now it seems impossible to them.
“I tried but I never achieve to meditate again, my mind is so busy.”
“I can´t meditate anymore. I think too much.”
They just can´t believe that they will be able to meditate well.

The story of Peru going to the World Cup after such a long time is quite interesting.

Gareca, our Argentinean Football Team director, played in the last eliminatory in Mexico 1986 and made the point against Peru that made us go out of the World Cup. Since that time we have never been so close to the World Cup until now. The person that took us out of the World Cup was bringing us closer to Russia now.

Gareca said something very interesting when being interviewed, – there is nothing impossible when you have a clear goal. He said he believes in Peruvian team.

Time passed and we did a good job in Argentina and New Zealand games, we did not lose. The final game was going to be in Lima, Peru. By that time, even when our main player Paolo Guerrero wasn´t allowed to play in the last game due to further anti-doping research, Gareca and all Peruvians believed in their football team.

Next day of the last game, when Peru was already classified to World Cup, it was the national holiday. I had a yoga and meditation class to teach next day at 7:15 am. Unbelievably all my students went. After savasana we arrived to the meditation part and I told them that if you want to meditate you will do it. With distracting thoughts, with a busy mind, but you just have to believe in you.

“Be thankful for your limits because they are the ones that allow you to grow, to transform and to transcend.”

As Peruvian journalist Diego Salazar wrote: “When nobody believed, Gareca did.”

Photo by Eric BARBEAU on Unsplash

Vacuity: What Can Take You Beyond Happiness

Have you ever heard the word vacuity?
First time I heard this word was in a meditation class. I did not actually fully understand  it. The theory provided by the teacher was kind of difficult for me. In general, Buddhist philosophy to me is very interesting but also full of concepts and words that are not so easy to comprehend. Vacuity used to be one of them.

My Thai meditation teacher always says 99% practice and 1% theory.
The truth is that this is not only a good advice for your meditation development but also a very good advice for understanding Buddhist philosophy.

Take a look at this wooden block:

Attēlu rezultāti vaicājumam “yoga block”
Source: Mec.ca

Before this block was a tree, now –  a bock, in the future it will disintegrate and disappear. Then, is this really a block? Everything that changes does not actually exist.

Everything is changing

The concept of me is also changing. Right now I am 35 years old, I teach yoga and meditation and work in communications. But what about next year? I won’t be 35 anymore. I might not be teaching yoga, meditation or working in communication, so myself dissolute in vacuity because of changes.

If me is changing, then it does not exist as a description composed of external aspects as age or profession. Wen I feel happy, who is feeling happy? When I feel worried, who is feeling worried? The answer is nobody. It is vacuity. It does not exist.

Connecting to the Divine

This concept can be very hard to understand just by reading these words but my meditation practice did help me getting it.

When I go deep in meditation, the concept of me as composed by external concepts disappear. I am not anymore my body what I perceive with my senses; I am not my age, my profession or my work. I am something that is deeply inside me, a state of pureness, emptiness and stability which goes beyond happiness. It is just a word that can be described in a text.

When I go deeply in meditation, I connect to what you can call soul, spirit or the Divine.

That is vacuity – the dissolution of me perceived in my meditation.

That’s when I got the point of my Thai meditation teacher: 99% practice and 1% theory.

Why To Study Peace?

As a Peruvian, all my life I have heard a lot of people referring to my country as “underdeveloped”, and I have always asked myself: in what way are we “underdeveloped”? I love and appreciate my country for many reasons, such as our spirituality, our strong connection with the land, our knowledge of a large variety of natural medicines, the history of Inca, the beauty of our natural landscapes… The list goes on and on. And then I also ask myself: why do we allow ourselves to be called “underdeveloped”?

Communication for Development

I grew up during the time of internal armed conflict in my country. It was during the civil war that started about two years before I was born and eventually began decreasing in intensity after 1992 when the leader of Sendero Luminoso was captured. Most parts of the country were devastated by the activity of three actors: Sendero Luminoso, Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru and the Peruvian military forces. The victims were mostly Quechua native speakers, farmers from rural areas, who were considered as the very “poor”.

When I had finished my secondary schooling and was able to comprehend this enormous tragedy suffered by my country, I decided to study Communication for Development. This is a specialisation in which you would learn how to create participatory processes of communication for the creation of well-being among people. During my years of study, I found myself becoming dissatisfied with the terminology used in the field of development such as “third world”, “underdeveloped” and “ordinary people” versus “experts”, and with the vertical approach experienced in development projects. I worked in several conventional projects that focused on benefiting the local community materially. In all of them I found that the detachment of most aid workers from the local community was incongruous with their purpose in being there.

The importance of a horizontal approach

It was not until I participated in a project where I shared my knowledge of yoga with young girls and in another one where I coached young adults in learning meditation, that I learnt the importance of a more horizontal approach. This prompted me to seek out methods to reduce the distance between the parties in development projects.

I have practised yoga and meditation for several years already. The most important influence on me has been the realisation that yoga and meditation are not only good for my health in reducing anxiety and developing physical strength, but that these practices also help me understand who I am, and to analyse and understand my identity as a Peruvian, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a friend, a professional, and many other roles I have taken on in my life. They have also helped me interact with my environment more actively. The relationship I have with myself, my family, my friends, and my community have all markedly improved.

Inner peace work in practice

I found a different relationship between aid workers and the local community in those two projects which involved yoga and meditation. It was more horizontal and respectful and contributed greatly to the strength of those projects. I asked myself if inner peace work could improve the way development is implemented in the field.

This discovery and these questions motivated me years ago to study a Master in Peace, and I was amazed to see how meditation was a part of these studies. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend you to read Many Peaces by W. Dietrich and The Moral Imagination by J. Lederach.

Embracing Obstacles in Meditation and Spiritual Path

What happens if we understand obstacles as an essential part of our spiritual path? Then, how to learn to forgive if nobody hurts us? How to love even the “enemy” if we did not meet it yet? How to practice acceptance if everything seems so easy in life? The ones that are in this path know that obstacles are difficulties on the way – so that we can learn, observe and contemplate them. Then, with time, one can see the message: transformation and growth.

One of my masters used to say that the most painful things in his life were the ones that he was grateful the most. Without them he wouldn’t be in this path, without them he wouldn’t learn how to forgive, how to love and how to serve.

In this article of Lions Roar the author explores the path through obstacles in meditation. What are the obstacles? Why do they appear? Which is the antidote?

There are diverse types of obstacles:
Outer obstacles: being busy, overly involved with family, a hobby or any kind of entertainment can take us time to practice;
Inner obstacles: The most important one is concept. If we stay in theory part and conceptualization of ideas, even if they are about meditation, and not in our meditation practice, our mind will wonder continuously and our practice will be stacked.

Another secondary inner obstacle is emotions. Obvious, negative emotions will disturb our practice.
Secret level: When we have doubts about the dharma, our mind is not completely committed to the practice.
General level: Obstacles are related to our karma. Which are the conditions and environment that we put to our practice and ourselves? Who are our friends? What are our regular activities? Are they healthy? Do we practice compassion? Do we kill living beings easily?

There are also diverse types of antidotes:
Basic level: Mindfulness
“When we’re arrogant and cavalier, taking for granted the details of our body, speech, or mind, an obstacle arises. Then we wonder what happened. At whatever level we are practicing, we need to pay attention to our life and appreciate it.”

Inner level: Practice. Breath and keep your concentration in the present moment and on what is happening to yourself.

External level: Inspiration. This will be higher and most important than being busy, distracted or lazy.

“With mindfulness, awareness, and certainty in the view, we are able to have purpose in our practice and deep confidence in the path. These qualities bring a sense of happiness and satisfaction to whatever we are doing. (..) Practising regularly, cultivating peace and loving-kindness, and renewing our inspiration are the key elements in working with obstacles. This step-by-step approach gradually builds equanimity.”