In 2012, my official journey with Ayurveda began when I learned of the system in Yoga Teacher Training. It sounded interesting to me but amidst my spiritual free-fall that was yoga school — I didn’t quite understand the role that it would eventually play in my life. Well, clearly — I didn’t understand the role that it was already playing in my life. I was highly Vata deranged. Stressing out at my job, eating a vegetarian diet filled with all things that imbalance Vata: black beans, hummus, raw veggies, dry crunchy foods, and peanut butter. De-ranged! So yeah, yoga school kicked my ass, not in a physical way, in a spiritual way!
After yoga school, my mind started to settle and for the first time, I began to feel comfortable in my human existence. I experienced true connection though my yoga practice and the most beautiful fulfillment through teaching and spreading the movement of yoga.
Fast forward into the next year. In the deep connection I’d cultivated through yoga, I began to pick up on the feeling that something in my life was off — way off. So I asked a close friend about the Ayurveda she had started to incorporating into her life. She told me that she didn’t have answers to all of my questions but she knew someone who did. Enter, Dr. Jim Davis. I received an Ayurvedic consultation from Dr. Davis which included altering my diet, taking Maharishi herbal formulas, and MEDITATION. When I received my Ayurvedic prescription, I took very well to the diet and herbal recommendations. Food is medicine, after all. However, I thought, hmmm, I already have a great yoga practice and I am mindful on my yoga mat. I don’t need that additional meditation.
However, in actuality, I didn’t really know how to meditate. I knew how to get really connected and blissed out on my yoga mat, which no doubt is a very mindful state.. However, it is not meditation practice. After my Ayurvedic Consultation, I attended the TM introduction lecture and thought that it sounded spectacular, I was interested! However, having just come off of yoga teacher training and cashing out part of my retirement to do so — I simply didn’t have the means to afford TM.
Fast forward to 2015, I am now working for Maharishi Ayurveda! I love my job. Part of my employee compensation is a scholarship to learn Transcendental Meditation. I put it out there in the Universe and it returned! And 6 Months ago, in February Dr. Davis’ lovely wife, Catherine, taught me how to mediate. We had a ceremony and my mantra was revealed to me. We spent the following 4 consecutive days “checking”.
The first day, the first meditation, I had so many questions. I am usually that girl… with all of the questions. But I had LOTS of questions. What if I forget my mantra? What if my mind wanders? What happens if I forget to meditate everyday? Meditate on a full stomach? Can I meditate laying down? Will answers to all of my questions be revealed to me magically by meditation?
Catherine was incredibly patient with me and I realized that I needed to take a step back, slow down, take the training one step at a time, and realize that the “checking” is an intentional system handed down from the lineage of the teaching to answer all of those questions and provided direction for the technique. The next few days of meditation came easier. I stopped trying so hard to make something happen and began allowing myself to just be here now. Living in the present moment. Spending the time to become silent, aware, and mindful 20 minutes a day, twice a day.
I’ve spent the last 6 months navigating my new TM practice, growing with the practice and allowing it to teach me so much!
1. It’s Just Meditation
Its that easy. My natural tendency is towards order, routine, and perfecting whatever I am doing. (ahem, Pitta) However, through the days spent learning the TM technique I realized that that desire to control, expect, and “get something” from each meditation is just not necessary. There is no, good meditation or bad meditation. Its just meditation. We simply make the practice a part of our lives, and the rest falls into place as it should. As it will!
2. Asana Is Just Asana
Thats right, yoga asana is just asana, postures, it isn’t meditation. Headstand is an amazing physical feat, but what is even more amazing?.. sitting in stillness with yourself for 20 minutes! The expansiveness of our modern yoga community is beautiful to witness, be a part and ride the wave of. However, did we forget the original intention of yoga?
Stillness of the fluctuations of the mind. Union of body and breath, body and mind. How do we work out the fluctuations of the mind? We physically practice asana. We practice sequentially to move the spine in every healthy direction: Flexion (forward folds), Extension (backbends), Lateral (right and left). We open the tightness of our bodies through invigorating sun salutations, standing, seated, prone, supine, inverted postures, and twists. We do all of this to get out of our bodies and into our minds. To allow the asanas to fulfill their intentions of stilling our bodies and allowing our minds to follow. Asana is the preparation for MEDITATION. Then comes the real work. The steady, sweet posture.
3. Take Mindfulness Off the Mat
My daily meditation practice has taught me to value asana for the sake of asana — and take the pressure to make something happen out of my yoga practice. And I’ve learned to take the pressure to make something happen, off of my meditation mat too. No pressure. No expectation to make things happen, to reach Samadhi, or become Enlightened. Just mindfulness and allowing the Universe to unfold life, on and off the mat. The more time I spend mindfully connecting during meditation, the more familiar it becomes, and I notice it through out my day.
4. “Do Your Practice and All is Coming”
I believe when Pattabhi Jois said this he spoke truthfully about life and all that it has to teach us. The expression isn’t: Do your practice and all the riches, and rainbows are coming. The expression is that ALL is coming. The good, the bad, the uncomfortable, the happy, the sad, the lonely, the truth. Do your practice and prepare for life and all that it has to teach you. With your practice, your mindfulness, your meditation — you will be prepared for all that is coming because you are ready to receive it.
When we meditate, we practice stillness which prepares us to live our lives in happiness and peace. Meditation hasn’t made my life perfect, but it has taught me how to connect to and love myself, and how to value this beautiful human existence that I am ready to receive.
Jai Guru Dev!