Expand your consciousness
In Catching the big fish, acclaimed film-maker David Lynch describes our consciousness as a pool in which we fish for ideas and inspiration.
If your pool is small, you can expect to catch small fish, but if you want to “catch the big fish”, he says, you have to find a way to increase the size of the pool you’re fishing in – which requires you to expand your consciousness.
And one of the ways you can do this, says Lynch, is through practising Transcendental Meditation (TM).
A Google search throws up the following definition for Transcendental Meditation: “a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices, promulgated by an international organization founded by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ( c. 1911–2008).”
That’s a mouthful, right? And in my opinion that definition focuses more on the benefits of TM rather than the actual practice.
As today is World Meditation Day, I thought I’d reflect on three years of meditation and the transformational impact that TM has had on my life.
Before I completed the foundation course in 2015, I was a mess. While I had just returned from an inspiring and rejuvenating trip to the USA’s pacific northwest, being back recalled all the stresses I had put on hold when I went on holiday. My incomplete Master’s thesis weighed heavily on me. My struggle to balance studies, home life and work demands had made me feel out of control, sometimes even incompetent. To cope, or to numb those feelings, I ate. And drank.
I lost perspective. I felt… lost.
It was someone very close to me who suggested TM as a possible solution – and without much knowledge of the practice, I agreed to give it a shot. TM had an immediate, positive impact on me. And after my teacher delivered my mantra to me, I cried silently during most of my first meditation session as I felt the layers of pain and helplessness peel away, revealing only my own vulnerability.
In his book, Lynch – a huge proponent of TM – describes this mantra (which is unique to each meditator) as “a sound vibration thought”. This sometimes come to mind during a meditation and I, for a fleeting moment, imagine I can feel the relaxation, the peace, the contentment, vibrating through every part of my body.
TM is now a part of my daily routine, which includes two 20-minute sessions a day – one in the morning and another later in the day. Not every session is blissful. Sometimes my toes are just touching the water. Other times I’m totally immersed. In. Peace.
I also felt this kind of immersion as I lowered myself into the Colorado River during a recent trip to Texas, the gently flowing water cooling me and calming me. Being in nature can be meditative too. Which brings me to my next point: choose your poison. I write about TM because that’s my experience, but go, find what works for you. Find what helps connect you to your stillness, your vulnerability. Your purpose.
My yoga teacher Brigitta Bouwer once described her yoga practice as “meditation in movement” which, she said, had allowed her to “get rid of my ego and let go of expectations”.
Having once found herself feeling overwhelmed by the demands of the corporate world, Brigitta started practising yoga to de-stress and soon started seeing the connection between her yoga sessions and a calmer mindset. “Yoga has taught me to be in the moment… even though I’m often guilty of living in the future,” she told me.
And of the meditative quality of yoga, she said: “It doesn’t come every time, but when you experience the stillness, it’s powerful enough to remind me why I do it. When you quiet your mind, you start to learn to know yourself, tune in and be the best you can be.”
I asked Brigitta to share 5 ways yoga can impact our mental and emotional well-being.
Benefits of yoga:
- It fosters an attitude of gratitude by bringing us back into the here and now. We become present and aware of how blessed our lives truly are.
- It reduces anxiety, stress and depression. Conscious breathing and mindful execution of asana (poses) strengthen the nerve transmissions from the body to the brain, decreasing stress and muscular tension.
- With regular practice of mindfulness, you retrain your brain to respond to life’s experiences in a calmer, more centred way.
- Regular practice helps you to stand tall as you move through life. Your body rewards you with fewer aches, pains and problems… making you comfortable in your own skin.
- The breathing techniques can be used throughout your day, bringing yourself out of your head, your to-do lists and worries, back into your body, the here and now.
Brigitta runs her Yoga Motive studio from 104 Harrington Street, Cape Town.