It’s certainly not a coincidence that both the words ‘medicine’ and ‘meditation’ come from the same etymological root: the Greek prefix “med”, which alludes to a medium point in between two opposites or, in other words, to that subtle state of balance we hear so much about in health blogs and yoga lessons but rarely get the chance to truly interiorize. In this brief post I’ll share my experience of meditation as the most effective, universal and low-cost medicine I have ever tried.
AN ORDINARY CURE FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE
I first started meditating two years ago after finding myself caught in an emotional turmoil that could have easily led to chronic depression. I had basically been sucked by apathy and indifference whilst scary suicidal thoughts started to glimmer under the surface. For a creative individual such as myself (I’m a performing artist and a yoga teacher) having lost the will to live was absolutely unimaginable. Yet that was my uncomfortable reality: I was lost, unbalanced and ill. Furthermore, I had no practical tools to resolve these issues and no energy to commit with any ‘positive’ initiative.
One day a friend shared a link to the Peace Revolution website and I started their self-development program. As I said, I had no expectations or ambitions at the time; hence, sitting down quietly for 30 minutes was actually a nice idea. I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, just after the first days of doing it, small but significant changes started taking place. I:
– Started sleeping better and waking up with higher energy levels.
– Stopped having headaches and nightmares.
– Recovered my appreciation for life and reconnected to my spontaneous sense of kindness towards my friends and family.
– Became more grateful.
– Felt fresh, motivated and ready to undertake new projects.
Long story short: meditation came to my life as a life boat in the middle of a shipwreck; a true medicine amidst the obscure pharmaceutical market that could have easily poisoned my body. The anxiety slowly disappeared whilst my cells recovered their innate ability to heal and restore their natural state of health. It’s actually not that far out: if you think about it, meditation has been around much longer than painkillers and modern medicine. Personally, I’ve started to approach meditation as an ancient technology that’s accessible anywhere, anytime (no WIFI required). I wouldn’t say it’s free because it does require some discipline and commitment but it’s definitely low-cost compared to other options offered by the “wellness” market.
SO HOW DO I START?
First of all, just try to drop that heavy baggage of expectations and start by finding a comfortable spot where you can give your mind some rest. Everything else (meditation’s scientifically proven benefits) will start happening on its own: higher immune system, lower stress and blood pressure, etc. (You can google those.) No need to try hard, no need to obtain immediate results. Just close your eyes and enjoy spending a quiet moment with yourself.
From my experience, I wouldn’t suggest forcing yourself into meditation just because it’s ‘positive’, ‘healthy’ or even ‘trendy’. Just try it as a means to stop your mind from some of the destructive mental behaviors that have suddenly colonized our everyday life: self-judgment, restlessness and radical dissatisfaction.
Vietnamese monk and poet Thich Nhat Hanh says it beautifully:
To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem.
To meditate means to observe.
Your smile proves it.
It proves that you are being gentle with yourself,
that the sun of awareness is shining in you,
that you have control of your situation.
You are yourself,
and you have acquired some peace.
On a practical level, several things have changed for me after practicing meditation on a daily basis for almost two years. Back at that time I had an ordinary unfulfilling job in my home country, Colombia, whereas now I’ve moved to London to pursue a masters in Dance Therapy thanks to a couple of scholarships I won. Apart from my studies, I work as a part-time yoga teacher and have started my own brand of Multidimensional Therapies. I also volunteer for Peace Revolution and its on-line meditation platform, an amazing project that has allowed me to travel to Thailand, be trained to guide meditation by the coolest Buddhist monks and meet amazing people from all over the world.
2015 is already here and it’s a good time to remember that even the smallest changes in our mental habits may amount to big benefits in our lives. Meditation may sometimes feel like a silly practice leading nowhere. Fair enough. However, I do guarantee you will start becoming aware of details that you were previously unaware of. Want to know what I’m talking about? Well, guess you’ll just have to find out by yourself…