According to known definitions, meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique, to train his mind. A short definition could be: be present here and now!
What does science say?
More and more scientific studies are interested in the subject.
All are unanimous, meditation has many benefits. We mention in particular: reduction of stress, state of well-being, development of concentration, memory, the ability to make decisions, cessation of addictions, improvement of the state of health of the cardiovascular system, the immune system, sleep, improvement of relationships with oneself and others, reduction of negative emotions, reduction of physical pain …
Meditation is powerful at any level because it influences the neuroplasticity of our brain. That is to say, the ability that our brain has to change and adapt over time.
"When we practice meditation, we send the message to our brain that we are most effective in everyday tasks when we are conscious, observant, unresponsive and non-judgmental"
Epigenetics also now shows that the power of thought can change our genes.
So how do we do it?
Let's reassure ourselves right away, everyone is able to meditate.
It is a training, initially like any training it is not easy! We just have to persevere.
First to meditate you have to be seated. You can sit on a chair or on the floor. The main thing to remember to find the right posture is that you have to be stable and comfortable.Keep the back and head straight to let the energy of the column flow to the top of the head.Sitting is useful to avoid falling asleep. Physical exercises – asana – and respiratory exercises – pranayama – greatly help to meditate because they allow to be more comfortable in sitting posture and improve concentration. When you start meditation you can first learn to relax by lying down if the sitting position requires too much effort.
Mindfulnessmeditation, transcendental meditation (MT), Vipassana or Zazen are different techniques that can be used to learn to meditate. To enter into meditation, we can help ourselves with our concentration: we focus our attention on a single point excluding all external elements.Or on our openness: we observe without judgment what is happening in our body, without feeling impacted by the observations of our senses.
My Vipassana experience
I started Vipassana meditation in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. After traveling almost a year with Matt we had decided to end our journey with a silent retreat. We had talked too much… must say, a little calm it's not bad huh? But that was the first day of retirement and there were still nine left, and all that without opening your mouth. I tell you: calm is good but too calm is hard !!!
The first rule at the monastery was: follow the rules!And there were rules for everything. Do not talk, no distractions – no book, watch, music -, two meals a day, no comfort that is to say no backrest to chairs, no mattress, no cushion to sleep, no naked ablutions, no sensual pleasures, prohibition of waking up at 4am and bedtime 9pm, a daily task to perform for the collective and prohibition to kill any living being … Even in the toilet there was a note to follow to wipe yourself that is to say how much the rule was EVERYWHERE.
A difficult start
At first for me, it was hell. Strangely I had chosen to be here but I quickly told myself that my curiosity had pushed me directly into prison. Seeing a hundred people walk aimlessly, the look sometimes empty it was still crazy when I think about it.Matt was on the men's side and I was on the female side, so we barely crossed paths during the day.
The first three days were painfully intense so you wouldn't hide anything! It is now that I practice asana that I understand the usefulness of training the back to sit for hours. From morning to evening we stayed the majority of our time sitting in a suit, with our backs straight.
One of the rules that seemed downright easy to follow at the beginning was: do not kill a living being under any circumstances! Except that, little novice of Thailand that I was, I had absolutely not thought of the thousands of mosquitoes present in this period of rain under temperatures around 30 °. That is, being seated ok still passes. But sitting under 100 mosquitoes that turn me around to suck my blood NO! And in my head, at that moment thousands of excuses came to me: roh go, an insect is not really an important living being though? He is part of the food chain, since I am taller than him, I can maybe…
In short, my mind was trying to push me to murder.
Strange as it may seem, after my head had attracted me well into my entrenchments, the fourth day was a haven of peace. An incredible discovery, first of all in terms of position. I had finally found THE position to sit in a stable and comfortable way. But also a discovery on my breath that put me in a state of incredible calm as soon as I took control of it. I could see inside me. It was so crazy that I was even a little addicted… who would have thought that I would have even done extra hours of meditation in this monastery: clearly not me !!!
After this release, I even had some kind of revelations on subjects in my life that had always disturbed me: my relationship to myself, to others, my job, my future, my past… I observed every thought coming and going in my mind and was able to process it without judgment. In other words, I had a clarity of mind about these thoughts that kept coming back to parasitize me. I understood the reason why they appeared and the solution to put in place to stop them.
The days that followed were just as full of discoveries. Love and Peace.
Admit, you want scoops on my rule violations huh?
First promise me never to repeat it to the monks, sometimes we are really sent to Thai prison for non-compliance with the rules… I'm kidding of course! First we had a secret meeting point with Matt, we didn't talk to each other but sitting side-by-side made me feel good in the painful moments. Deuxio I had a lovely girlfriend who sneaked under my bedroom door in the evening. What do I say, room? Cell would be fairer… This naughty frog must have felt good in my space and I took the opportunity to tell her about my victories and failures of the day. I think that if a psychiatrist had observed me in these moments, for sure I ended up in a direct psy hospital!
The prison I imagined to be in this monastery was actually in me. The suffering I felt was not only related to these difficult circumstances. In truth I realized that even at home I already felt these sensations. But in those moments I was killing the root of evil with a distraction. I would go to see friends, watch a movie or eat a good dish for example. The only major difference was that here I faced my suffering in the face. So I finally understood the purpose of all these rules which was not to annoy us but rather to force us to confront them.
My assessment on the subject
As science says, meditation brings many benefits to our lives. But what I would like to add from this experience is that it is not always easy to face the truth in the face and that we should not believe that meditation is always pleasant and pleasant. Like day and night in a day, there is also light and darkness in us. To meditate is to accept these two sides of life that are part of us.
Since this experience I keep exploring. I assure you that despite painful beginnings it ends up becoming naturally good to be in oneself, even for a few moments.