“Yoga is meditation and meditation is Yoga” B.K.S. Iyengar
Initially the idea of sitting still for 5 to 20 made me want to run and hide, yet very quickly my curiosity was peaked and after my first session a few years ago, I realised the art of doing nothing was in fact, the art of doing something. Something very specific actually. My experience of practising meditation has developed my laser like concentration skills (I write with this a smile), made me feel lighter, happier, healthier and more self-aware.
Having dipped in and out of meditation practices like mindfulness, visualisation, Transcendental Meditation etc. more recently, I’ve been learning from Dr ALV Kumar, Founder of Traditional Yoga (traditionalyoga.co.uk), the art of meditation using the Natural Breath Awareness technique, Ana Pana Sati (also known as Prana Samyama). This resulted in spending 10 days with him and over fifty people at their annual residential Summer Meditation Retreat (July to August 2015) where we maintained a ‘Noble Silence’ during our practice. Essentially this means we entered a state of awareness within. A state of silence where there is no communication with others, nor our mobile phones (heavenly) or even eye contact. It was a truly transformative and life-enhancing experience. Dr. Kumar and Traditional Yoga have introduced me to some rather revolutionary techniques to explore the mysteries within, using the natural breath as my guide and a bridge to the present moment, connecting the conscious, subconscious and unconscious minds. Wow.
I smile now as I recall the shock, disbelief and awe responses I got from family, friends and students when telling them about embarking on this adventure:
Going into silence was a rather straightforward process for me since I knew this was a requirement before attending the programme. However, little did I know that the silence would do something rather beautiful. It opened me up to an entirely new level of both sensory and internal awareness, something I still marvel at now as I reflect and recall. What was more remarkable was the emotional release, from this experience, which resulted in a deep physical pain dissolving in my left hip. As if my hip was able to somehow be simply more open and able to relax. As if it was shedding some deeply held emotional trauma (also known as a negative cellular memory). This in itself has led to my self-practice becoming more meditative and still. All of this as a result of sitting cross legged on a meditation cushion (with plenty of extra cushions and blankets!) over 10 days and learning the meditation techniques that Dr Kumar has himself experienced and refined from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the teachings of the Buddha. For those of you trembling at the thought of being cross-legged and seated on a floor there were options to sit on a chair too. We also had time for asana practice, lots of Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep), relaxation and rest. I have to say, I really enjoyed the luxury of sitting on a chair in the evening lecture seminars. What a treat!
Towards the end of the 10 days I noticed a tendency of not wanting the silence to end and then me simply not wanting to speak once the silence was officially broken. However, I soon got over this and once I started speaking, I couldn’t stop… well for a little while at least. We then practised meditation together again after the silence, and I became keenly aware that the intensity of the meditation was somehow changed, my mind felt more distracted as if the silence had broken a sacred internal agreement. Something I still marvel at.
So my self-practice now is a little more still, a little more relaxed. I’m taking at least 20 minutes daily to practise the techniques imparted by Dr Kumar and finishing with a Loving Kindness Chant.
To find out more about this Natural Breath Awareness ‘Prana Samyana’ technique please do get in touch.