Back in 2011 meditation wasn’t as mainstream as it is now, at least in my world, but I remembered hearing a mutual friend had gotten into it recently, so I reached out to him. He was happy to share and coincidentally the teacher who he learned from was going to be teaching a course shortly thereafter. I signed up to go along.
The type of meditation I learned is Vedic Meditation, which I still practice today. The word Vedic comes from the Sanskrit word Veda, or knowledge. (A translation for Ayurveda is Knowledge of Life. Ayu means life in Sanskrit). The basic technique is practiced for 20 minutes, both in the morning and evening. The beauty of it is once you learn it through the course you can do it anywhere – at home, on a plane, in your office, on a park bench, or even on the subway (I have done them all!). All you need is yourself and your mantra, which is given to you by your teacher during the course.
I have since tried other types of meditation but hold strong to my Vedic practice. I think it is an ideal way for people to transition into a more mindful lifestyle as it is simple and accessible. I remember walking into the course for the first time and being amazed at the variety of people around me – they were old, young, men, women, corporate, hipster. Up until this point in my life, I hadn’t engaged in many activities where I “shared” with others – let alone strangers – and I remembered being moved by how everyone might have looked different on the outside but were all coming from the same place on the inside of just wanting some peace.
The practice also worked for me because of my teacher. I studied under Light Watkins, who I continue to have a relationship with today. Light was perfect for someone like me who was not yet comfortable with the idea of meditation. He spoke in plain, simple English about the practice and seemed just like us! He was an ex-model turned meditation teacher so I felt he understood both the world I was coming from and the one I wanted to go into. I remember being so charmed by his calm and friendly demeanor. I felt the same about the people I met at my yoga retreat.
So I signed up for the course and dug right in. The thing about me is once I make up my mind about something, I am determined. That is the Pitta in me, according to Ayurveda. And I was determined to become a meditator and calm the f$ck down. The course was spread over a week. We would go in the morning, Light would teach us about the practice, and then we would go home and meditate on our own in the afternoon. The next day we would come back and talk about our experiences meditating, then learn more, meditate again, and repeat.
At the end of the week, we had our own personal mantra to meditate with and were left to our own devices to keep going. We could also reach out to Light anytime we had questions or needed help and motivation. The goal was to set aside 20 minutes twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon. It was tough in the beginning to establish the new habit but like I said, once I make up my mind to do something, I do it!
I don’t remember much about those early meditation days but I do remember a feeling I had just a few weeks after I started. I was on the subway and as it happens someone was yelling, or shoving me – I don’t remember exactly but you get the idea. Now typically when something like this would happen I would get irate. I have never been the type to yell in public but would yell in my head and expel all of this negative energy that wasn’t necessary. But this time, I looked at the person, took a deep breath and shrugged it off. It had no effect on me whatsoever! And that is when I was 100% sold on meditation.
It is now almost five years later and I rarely miss a session. In fact, it is now what I look forward to most when I wake up on the morning (It has taken precedence over my coffee, which I still love, but now meditation comes first). I credit adopting this practice for changing my life by keeping me calm, and helping me channel my anger while staying steady and clear-headed. Meditation is a core component of the Ayurvedic lifestyle, and adopting and embracing this practice was a pivotal point in leading me down the path I am today.