Attitude or Insight
“Can you still feel frustrated and inadequate even though you may have meditated for many years?” a journalist asked me recently, “or do you go around with a permanent smile on your face?“
That made me think of a woman on one of our meditation courses. When she came home after the meditation, her children rushed boisterously up to her and hugged her. She wanted to remain in the tranquil state she had reached during the meditation, so she tried to keep the children at a distance imagining that they would disturb her.
I advised her to accept the children entirely and not to try to cling to any state. The effect of the meditation is there anyway, as we go about life and allow our various traits to find expression – and it’s okay to react normally.
I am sure everyone experiences yoga and meditation in their own individual way. And it is exciting to discover and explore the potential of the exercises. The fundamental effects, however, are pretty much the same for all – body and mind find their own natural balance.
When I have been very busy going full speed ahead all day, and then find it difficult to unwind in the evening, meditation calms me down. But if I am tired and uninspired and cannot get started on anything, then meditation gives me renewed energy.
A woman with very high blood pressure participated on a yoga and meditation course we held in Germany some years ago. She had tried all kinds of therapies but nothing helped. So she turned to yoga. She had a blood pressure monitor with her and we took her blood pressure on various occasions during the course.
It turned out that another woman on the course had low blood pressure and, when we measured her, we saw to our great surprise that it had actually risen following the same exercises!
An explanation for this could be that these techniques make us relax and help us let go of the thoughts, impressions and states which are otherwise seated in our muscles and organs, and which influence the nervous system – by removing these blocks, the body becomes better able to regulate itself.
When something is worrying us, we may feel as if we are enclosed in a bubble. When the problem has been resolved or the cause of the anxiety has been removed, then everything feels different. Suddenly, we can make contact with the people around us again and appreciate the small daily events.
Yoga and meditation can remove these bubbles – regardless of whether they arise from anxiety, ideals or self-indulgence – and prevent new ones from forming. If you adopt a “meditative pose” like the woman who pushed her children away, then you end up in a new bubble that can inhibit your awareness and meditation and become a burden.
The realisation that you don’t need to live by ideals and manners, that you can depend on yourself; along with the understanding that meditation does not need props – is fundamental to our teaching, which is inspired by the Tantric tradition. When I went on my first yoga course at this school, I found I could be myself. There was nothing to live up to and no one tried to convince me of anything. The result was that I was able to relax and experience the effects of yoga.
One day, two young men came to the school. They wanted to know what yoga was. “Do you have to believe in anything?” they asked. ” No,” I replied, “yoga is like football. It is something you do. It isn’t something you believe in.“
Maybe you get a broader perspective on a variety of things or maybe acquire new values, but yoga is not an attitude one adopts; insight grows by itself.