If you clicked over on my Bucket List lately, you might have noticed I recently crossed something off! Last month, I did something I always wanted to try: a meditation class.
I have heard of the benefits of meditation for a long time. Many successful people rely of different forms of meditation to help them focus and calm their minds. I have enjoyed a number of different guided meditation techniques as part of my yoga practice, but I’ve always wanted to take it a bit further. For me, meditating was like relaxing into a deep stretch: if I was able to let go and reach that deep state I felt very cleansed and fresh after.
The times I have attempted meditation on my own were less than successful. But, I’ve always wanted to capture that “deep stretch” of the mind feeling even if it didn’t happen to occur in my yoga class. I found an opportunity recently at I yoga studio I visit while on business in San Jose: a class on meditation based on Tibetan Heart Yoga was being offered.
I walked in to a packed studio where each student had several props in addition to their mats, including big cushions, blankets, blocks and straps. As I set up my area similarly, the teacher came over to introduce herself to me and the one other student whom she didn’t already know by name. As she began the class with some introductory words, she offered tissues to any student who was “feeling particularly emotional today.” What was I getting in to?
We got comfy on our cushions and the teacher led us through a visualization sequence. First we had to pick a person in our life. I considered challenging myself by choosing a person I don’t care for that much that I was having difficulties with recently, but I really wasn’t up to it. Instead I did what felt most natural, to dedicate my practice to Roberto.
Under the guidance of the teacher, we visualized light and happiness coming from within ourselves to give to our chosen person. She explained the philosophy that each and every thing that happens to us, good or bad, was a direct result of what we put in to the world. We were then guided through visualizing all the pain and negativity within that person, and physically taking that pain away and extinguishing it.
It seems like a simple thing to do when I write it down like that, but really the instructor guided us through a long series of steps to visualize this imagery. We were in a deep meditative state at this point. I felt very light and relaxed afterward. We then moved in to some Tibetan Heart yoga, where we performed a sequence of postures each focused on one of the perfections of the practice. For example, we held a difficult and uncomfortable twist while focusing on patience. When it got difficult to stay in the pose, we dedicated our effort to giving patience to our chosen person. We did this with other perfections such as wisdom, generosity and kindness.
One of the key takeaways from this meditation class was the importance of meditating about something. Clearing your mind only goes so far; to achieve true results from meditation it must have a point, a focus. I felt fantastic after the class, and really enjoyed working through yoga postures with a purpose of self-improvement. I also loved that this class was an insight into the fascinating Tibetan Buddhist culture. I may have to add “practice yoga in Tibet” to my bucket list now!
I talked to Roberto the next evening. He said he couldn’t explain it, but somehow he just had the best day ever! I told him about the meditation practice and how I tried to “send him light” and we both wondered if it really worked.
I plan to do a summary post each time I cross something off my bucket list. Hopefully there will be more to come soon!
Photo by Hape_Gera