The One Where I Share My Journey With Meditation With You
“We are sat in a long narrow, dimly lit room. There are candles lit and a sweet sense of incense wafts through the air. With a sense of anticipation, and a little trepidation, I wait for it all to begin. My friend Anita is sitting alongside me, her soft smile and reassuring glance in my direction eases my nerves. I’ve never been here before but, despite my nerves, somehow I know that it is going to be ok…….it all goes silent and we begin…….”
That is my memory of my very first Yoga class. It’s hard to believe that that was pretty much twenty years ago for me. It seems like yesterday. Before that day I had never experienced Meditation or Yoga before. And since that day … I have never experienced a day without them both in my life.
You’ll hear me speak about Meditation and Yoga a lot on my blog pages. Not just because I am a Meditation and Yoga teacher, but also because over the last 20 years, both Meditation and Yoga have become a big part of my life and of my journey of recovery and self discovery after abuse. Today I’d like to share with you my journey into Meditation and how Meditation has helped me on my healing journey and through my everyday life. I’d also like to share with you a paper that I wrote during my time training to be a Meditation teacher, on the benefits of Meditation.
I was first introduced to, or came across, Meditation during that first Yoga class those 20 years ago. My friend Anita invited me along to a Yoga session at the local local studio, where I , unbeknown to me at the time, later trained to be a Meditation and Yoga teacher. Whilst, I have to be honest, I don’t remember much about how I felt after my first class I do know that the effects of that, and the countless other classes that I attended over the years have changed my life forever.
Something captivated me during that first Yoga class. Something that ignited a longing, a familiarity and steering towards what I know now to be my journey home. That something guided me to my path of self awareness and discovery that led to my spiritual awakening and reconnection to the deeper Truth and part of myself which lies within. To discover My True self over the years, as I have journeyed, has helped me make sense of it all, my life, who I am, my past and my abuse. More than that though it has helped me find a way out of my past to not only uncover and discover, but also ‘Be’, who I really am today.
After that very first Yoga class, I regularly attended the Yoga studio and then went on to study for almost 4 years as I trained to be a Meditation and Yoga teacher. Whilst those studies ended, my learning of the vast and expansive subject of Yoga and Meditation has never ended. In reality it still continues to this day.
What Meditation has given me
When I first began practising Meditation at the Yoga Studio, I have to be honest, I didn’t really know what it was or indeed that that was what I was doing. Meditation was Yoga to me and just part of the classes that I went to. In the 90 minute session that we had at the Yoga studio, we did Yoga postures, breathing exercises, and relaxation and somewhere in between all of that we did “exercises” that combined breathing and visualisation. Those latter “exercises” I later came to learn, were for me my first experience of Meditation. They were “exercises” that called my attention into the present moment by focusing my mind on an object such as the breath ,or on a sound, a symbol or image to calm and still my mind.
At first, I found it really hard to get into Meditation and to the state where I was able to stop the incessant chatting in my mind. But the more I practiced the easier it became and the longer I was able to go without thinking about what was for dinner or what I needed to do at work the following day. In the beginning, if I could have gone twenty seconds without thinking about XY and Z then that would have been a miracle! I found it so hard to keep my thoughts out. But that was my starting point … focussing on my object of Meditation and bringing my awareness back when my mind wandered off to think about this, that and the other. That I later came to learn was not only the starting point for all new to Meditation but the hurdle that was to be overcome if one wanted to reap the benefits of this ancient practice.
Somehow over the months and years I persevered though and Meditation soon became for me, not just part of the Yoga session, but a practice, in its own right, that helped me find an indescribable stillness and calm within that I had never experienced before. It gave me a quiet space to which I could retreat . A place where I could go to close my mind off from all of my worries and concerns. This helped me to not only face the day to day challenges in my life but also, I later discovered, would be a pivotal and crucial part of my healing journey and the discovery of who I really was.
In practising Meditation, I could give my mind something other that my worries, thoughts and concerns of my past to “think” about.
Initially Meditation was for me a place of respite where I could go to shut off from my thoughts and concerns. Somewhere I could just go to, to take a break from the day to day challenges of my present and the thoughts, memories and pain from the past.
Over time though, as I practiced more and more and got over that initially difficult phase of Meditation, that seems to be compulsory to any new Meditation practitioner, things started to change. I found that I was able to sit for longer in Meditation and create in my mind longer periods of stillness. As this developed, I began to realise that in those moments of presence and calm that something that I’d never experienced before was starting to happen. In clearing my mind of thought I had created a space for something new (that’s how it felt to me at the time!) to come in. That something was the emergence of a deeper awareness of, and connection to, an intrinsic and instinctual part of myself within that I had never experienced before.
Under the guidance of a good teacher I was able to learn more about this part of myself and develop my Meditation practice in a safe way. Connection and awareness whilst being a good thing can also overwhelm and be hard to face alone, as I at times found out. And so it was important for me, (and I recommend to anyone new to Meditation), to journey alongside a good teacher offering the right help and support to ensure that I didn’t get lost, stuck or overwhelmed along the way.
As I developed my practice and gained a deeper sense of insight and self awareness, I was able to learn more about myself and who I really was. I was able to see the person that I was beyond my abuse, my gender, my job or role in life.
I was able to truly find myself and see my truth, my skills, my qualities, my passions and desires, my purpose, my goals and my dreams. I got to know who I really was and was able to finally see beyond the self that I had believed that I was for so many years… the false self that I had lived the life of for so long that was defined to me by my abuse, upbringing and personal circumstances.
As I learned more about myself and discovered the path back to my True Self I found that I was able to connect on a deeper level to my intuition, wisdom, creativity and inner world or power and Truth. In that inner world, unbeknown to me at the time but what I know now 20 years on, lay an immeasurable and abundant amount of inner knowing, wisdom, guidance and resource, that has helped me over the years to heal my life and reclaim the truth, understanding and power of who I really am.
The greatest gift that Meditation gave to me was the ability to discover who I was in Truth and why I was here on Earth.
Meditation, still to this day provides me, in those moments when I need it the most, with a trusty place of solace. It is a place that I go to every day still for refuge, as I face the daily challenges of; parenting a vibrant toddler, my continued healing journey and day to day life. But more than that Meditation continues to be the space that I go to each day to find THAT space that lies on the other side of thought to gain the insight, awareness and answers that I look for in my continual quest for self growth, spiritual development and reclaiming of my Truth, my life and all of who I am here to be.
Although, I didn’t know it at the time, when I first entered the Yoga studio that day , my journey and quest to make sense of my life and find the truth of who I really am had begun and has lead me to where I am today.
Meditation for me is simply about calming and stilling the mind to bring your awareness into the present moment. It’s about untangling and detaching ourselves from the incessant flow of thoughts, concerns and distractions that engulf our minds. Calming and stilling the mind to discover the truth and inner world of your True being that lies within…within the stillness and within you. A Truth that in reality is the only truth for you, that can help you find what your true heart is searching for and your way back home to You.
[aaahh! I sigh out loud as I type my final words!] …
….I could talk forever to you about Meditation and Yoga. It’s a subject that I am so passionate about and there is so much that I want to share with you. But as this blog is already how many pages long I think I’ll bring it to a close for today. Meditation and Yoga really are a huge part of my life and practices that I am truly grateful for and owe a huge part of my life to ( along with my dear friend Anita). I’ll certainly talk more about Meditation and Yoga over the months and more than that I’ll share the Meditations practices that I have learnt and developed along the way that have helped and supported me on my journey as always in the hope that they may help and inspire you in some way.
Oh, and I nearly forgot that I did promise you a free copy of the paper that I wrote whilst training on the benefits of Meditation and if you would like a copy of that, send me an email with the subject title – ‘Free Meditation paper’ and Ill send that you.
As always, I’ve loved rambling with you today and sharing my journey with you and I look forward to rambling again together very soon. Until then much love.
Amelia Ella Hope