Sunday, 24 January 2010

What a truly amazing weekend....there's always something else to learn...

This weekend I had my re-scheduled Transcendental Meditation training. It was meant to have happened in mid-December but the trainer got swine flu. He told us today that it was the first time in the 25 years he has been teaching that he had to cancel a course. The course happens over three days. I arrived on Saturday morning 10am as requested. Before this course even started there has been some amazing co-incidences (or are they!) I have written in this blog that I have been doing kundalini yoga and am on the mailing list for classes and workshops. Among the list of events I get sent regularly is an early morning mantra session that starts at 5.30am. Every time I receive it I push down an inner desire to go using the reason 'I don't know where the place is'. When I got the details for where the TM course was going to be held I couldn't believe it when I saw that it was at the same place as the mantra early morning sesssions! So now there is no excuse for me not to go to these mantra mornings, that was the first surprise.

The second surprise I got was when I arrived at the course and was shown into a room. There was a picture of Guru Dev. This was amazing because my only knowledge of Guru Dev was that he was the Guru of Yogi Bhajan who is the Guru of the kundalini yoga that I do, so all of these synchronicities were quite amazing. The course began with the trainer doing a ceremony which has always been kept secret and giving me my own mantra which I would be meditating with from that morning. While he was doing the ceremony my inner voice was on the familiar rant it goes on when I find myself in situations like this, a rant that went something like 'what are you doing here at something like this AGAIN...particularly emphasis was laid on 'again' because it was the same thing I felt when I found myself queuing up to kneel at the feet of Mother Meera. There was the exact same inner resistance to this as well. I pushed these thoughts away and gave my full attention to the ceremony and my part in it. Then when I was given my mantra my first thought was 'that's not very sanskrit!', how did he arrive at that one for me' - but for some reason I didn't ask him anything about the mantra I had been given.

He then gave me instructions on how to meditate with the mantra and I was struck by how everything that would happen was perfect and the way it was meant to be...whhhaat....where was the discipline the monkey mind, watch your thoughts, concentrate - there was none of this it was all about letting the mind wander back to its source of bliss using the mantra. He said that he would stay with me for a while to meditate and then would leave me on my own and come back to check in a while. I began meditating, furrowing up my brow in my usual effort to concentrate but instead of concentrating on a candle or my breath I used my mantra. Total disaster as the first thought I had was 'is it x or y', 'did he say it like this or that', then the usual self-derogatory inner voice having its rant at my inability to recall a simple mantra correctly. All of this was exhausting for me so that when he returned and handed me a form to fill in I told him that I had a headache. He asked me had I been trying and putting in effort and I looked at him dumbfounded - of course I had, what else were you supposed to do in meditation! He then explained how there is no force or effort involved in TM. He then said he would leave me to complete the form and would return. When he returned he collected the form, looked briefly through it and confirmed that it was all 'as expected'. I waited expectantly to hear more and he said 'I will speak more about it this evening'. This was my cue to go.

Slightly bemused at everything that had gone on I left. I felt very tired and during the meditation I had felt myself falling off to sleep and then jerking awake. But then suddenly that tiredness lifted and I had an amazing energy. The reason I was attracted to TM is to increase my creativity and productivity so that I can work more under pressure. I left to meet my friend and go to London for my agreement and then later on we were going to a Hungarian classical music concert. My friend is just amazing. She told me the moving story of her great grand aunt who had been a hero in the Vietnam war. I can't recount all of the story but it was just amazing to hear it and I was reminded again about the greatness of the human spirit. It came through so clearly in what she told me about the life of her great grand aunt. We met after my agreement and went to the classical concert which wasn't to either of our tastes. I like music which has some melody. I didn't find any melody in this and whether it was my morning of TM which as finally catching up on me I found myself falling asleep. We left and finished off the evening with Dim Sum in Chinatown then we took the train back to Brighton.

This morning I was awake at 7am and was aware that I was excited. I did my 20 mins meditation with my mantra and was amazed at how quickly the time went by but I still had all of these thoughts which gave me the familiar frustration. I got ready to go to the next part of the course which was going to be with all of the other people who had got their mantra the day before. I arrived early and shortly after other people arrived. In total there were about eight of us. The trainer explained that this session would be 2 hours and he would explain the principles of TM and give us tips for how we would know that we were doing it right. I found the whole thing so fascinating. It was clear, made sense to me and I felt comfortable with it all. Even my inner voice which usually has a continuous rant when I'm at things like this was quiet and absorbed. The session ended with a nine minute video of the Mahariishi and his serenity and humour resonated very strongly with me. The two hours of the course also included a session of meditation and then people saying things about their experiences. I was in a conflict with this system which appears so easy and effortless and the traditional meditation of discipling the mind through concentration and I asked a question about it. He told met that this would be covered in the evening session.

Afterwards I felt so renewed and vigorated and more importantly I had ideas of things that I wanted to do and felt more motivated. Then my phone rang and it was my friend suggesting a couple of hours in the gym. Before I would have felt too tired or it would have been too much to fit in before going back again but instead I found myself really enthusiastic about going to the gym. We met up and I ran for a bit on the treadmill and did some cycling before walking the four miles back to the centre for the evening session. The evening session contained gold for me. One of the main reasons I had stopped meditating was because of what I called 'thought assault'. Everytime I sat down to meditate after a few seconds I would have nothing but thoughts and I made this mean that I wasn't doing it right and therefore it wasn't effective. So rather than face being a failure in meditation, I stopped meditating. I did take on the practice of mindfulness and being mindful at every moment but there was still something missing. Tonight the trainer explained that when the mind relaxes with the mantra, the body also relaxes but then the body begins to release blocks of stress to calm down the nervous system. As mind and body are inextricably linked the mind cannot be inactive when the body is active. So in response to the body being active the mind also must become active and it does this by grabbing hold of thoughts, any and every thought. This was a lightbulb moment for me. I suddenly saw thoughts in meditation not as bad or wrong but as an indication that my body is active in healing itself. This shifted everything for me.

As a result of this understanding when it came to doing some meditation there was absolutely no effort involved and I felt so free and easy. Then the trainer said that he would check the mantra that everyone had been given to ensure that we all had it right. Even though I had had some confusion with mine I was sure that I had it correctly. He took each of us to a room and asked us to repeat the mantra and to my complete astonishment I had it wrong. Initially this was devastating to me because it looked like my identity had said 'I'll remember it my way and make my own of it' but the trainer said that this was a good sign that it meant that the mind was already quite settled with it when it didn't have it perfectly. For a moment I was caught in the dilemma of two conflicting explanations for the same event and I realised in that moment that there is no truth to what happened. I can make either of those stories fit and I chose the explanation that empowered me which was that having to correct my recollection of my mantra was a good thing.

I was so happy leaving the course this evening. I got more than I thought possible from it. Out of it I have got the confidence to begin meditating again. But this wasn't the last surprise I was given. The trainer then spoke about Deepak Chopra and how he has been practicing TM for many years. He talked about how he had met the Maharishi by chance at a TM conference and that they had become good friends and Maharishi had given to him the system of Ayurveda which is so common in the west today. He then said Deepak Chopra was interviewed on an Irish television programme called The Late Late Show by Gay Byrne and I said to myself 'no way'. This programme was sacred television when it was on and Gay Byrne or Gaybo as he was affectionately called the only authority in Ireland for those few hours on a Friday night. I sat there amazed at yet another synchronicity this weekend and then up came the familiar voice and personality of Gay Byrne interviewing Deepak Chopra who was amazing in his knowledge and benefits of TM. He said some startling things among them was that people are responsible for their own illnesses and as they are responsible for creating them they can also cure them. This is so in line with the breakthrough education training and coaching I am doing at the moment. I am so clear that I create everything in my life. I am responsible for everything...

Afterwards I walked home so happy and grateful. I can't believe how much energy I have to write this blog at almost midnight. This is unheard for me because I had it that I don't put myself under pressure and writing this at this time at night would have occurred to me as pressure before I did this weekend and got my mantra and was released from my long held belief that thoughts are in some way detrimental to meditation. What is tragic is that for a couple of years I have been pondering on TM meditation but had dismissed it because I thought it was about yogic flying which I had and still don't have any interest in.

But now....even though I'm not tired I'm going to bed because 6.30am won't be long coming around and now I am adding an extra 20 mins meditation morning and evening to my schedule. Life is so exciting...when you have no idea what's around the next corner...

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