“If a person’s basic state of mind is serene and calm, then it is possible for this inner peace to overwhelm even a painful physical experience. On the other hand, if someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, or any form of emotional distress, then even if he or she happens to be enjoying physical comforts, he will not really be able to experience the happiness that these could bring.”
Back in my college days, I always used to wonder how cool it would be if we could clean up our thoughts with a stroke of a wand like Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies. Between long hours of work, meeting deadlines, running errands, daily responsibilities and challenging situations, millions of thoughts run through our minds on a daily basis. Amidst these thoughts, most of us spend a lot of time inside our own mind — worrying about the future or few things from our past, generally focusing on the parts of life that leave us dissatisfied. Anxiety and unwanted negative thoughts could become overwhelmingly difficult to handle at one point – They drain our energy and happiness, and even distract us from focusing on much better things in our life.
Studies have shown time and again that physical workout and exercises in a natural surroundings increase the blood circulation and help improve your brain’s stress response. While keeping ourselves physically engaged helps us keep off the negative thoughts, one another amazing way to remain serene and calm is by consciously training our mind to relax, through meditation.
I have been practicing relaxation meditation for the past 3-4 years by trying to focus on a single object/thought for a specific time duration without getting distracted. However, in March 2018, when I switched over to Heartfulness meditation (with steps outlined below), I could see considerable improvements in myself and was motivated to share this benefit to others who might be interested to take it up. This blog post describes the three steps of meditation that I carry out everyday to remain positive, calm and energetic.
Step 1 – Relaxing the body and mind for 20-30 minutes everyday morning:
There is a center in the body where love and spirit (soul) join, and that center is the heart. It is your heart that aches or fills with love, that feels compassion and trust. It is the heart that often feels empty or overflowing with emotions. Within the heart is a subtler center that experiences the soul. Trying to focus all of my attention towards the heart and imagining a divine light emanating out of my heart, I meditate for 20-25 minutes everyday morning. While other thoughts knock the doors of my mind and creep up often, as I meditate and relax. With every passing day, I can experience how I can consciously get myself to focus on one thing without getting distracted by the surroundings. A guided video for this activity could be seen here.
Benefits of this activity – Improvement in concentration, relaxation of mind, the best start for the day when practiced in natural surroundings.
Step 2 – Cleaning up all the thoughts while winding up the day:
All of us like it when a floor is swept clean without leaving behind a speck of dust. The same way, if we could clean up our mind and wipe out all our thoughts one by one before winding up our day, wouldn’t it lessen our burden? After winding up all the tasks for the day, I sit down in my usual meditation posture and clean up my thoughts. This was something that I had never done in the past (Earlier, I used to just focus on removing negativity) and completely clearing up my head from all the thoughts has rewarded me with a deep sleep every night. A guided video for this activity is available here.
Benefits of this activity – It feels light after carrying out this activity when the day ends, Other benefits are deep sleep and early rise.
Step 3 – Ending the day with a prayer:
After cleaning up my mind, I finally end the day by offering my generic prayers to Almighty with the below lines from அருட் காப்பு taught by my mother to me about 14 years ago (It is not exactly the same affirmation provided by the Heartfullness team, however it retains the same sense of feeling as the one provided by them. Their original affirmation is available here):
உறுதுணையாகவும், பாதுகாப்பாகவும் எல்லாம் இருக்கட்டும்
As described in the Mahabharata when the Kurukshetra war was imminent, Duryodhana and Arjuna were given a choice of choosing between a well trained army of Lord Krishna on one side and a weapon-less, non-fighting Lord Krishna. Without any second thought, Arjuna had chosen that the mere presence of Lord would benefit him, whereas Duryodhana opted for the army. What stands out from this incident is the thought of Arjuna that the mere presence of a god around him would provide him with all the support he needed to win the battle. Similarly, if we could pray for god to be within us all the time, it could help drive all of us to take up humane and conscious decisions with a consideration of everyone else impacted by our decisions and actions. As described by the heartfulness team, if only everyone around us could pray for god to be within us, conscious thoughts and actions would follow and crimes would automatically dwindle.
A 2015 study by WHO revealed that over 5 crore Indians suffer from depression and more than 3 crore Indians suffer from anxiety. It’s the thoughts that transform into actions and mental health is equally important as your physical health. Meditation, when practiced routinely could bring in an amazing transformation to the thinking of a person and I hope that this post would motivate several others to take up meditation that suits you. While, this blog post is a review of “Heartfullness meditation” which suited me over other techniques, I leave it to my readers to compare and choose a relaxation routine that suits them. Mental wellness is an under looked issue in India and with routine meditation, we could spread a lot of positivity around us every moment.
Heartfulness meditation is a basic 3-day programme (with an half-an hour session on each day covering each of the steps outlined above) and the offering is run by volunteers who do this activity simply for the joy of witnessing positive changes and meeting like minded people. This programme is completely free and to locate the nearest heartfulness meditation center near you, you could click here.
Other free meditation programmes popular in India – Vipassana Mediation.