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  • Writer's pictureGaelle Bretin-Tokpo

What You’re Missing Out If You’re Not Trying Meditation

If you are interested in personal development, spiritual growth and self-mastery, you have probably heard and read everywhere about meditation and pretty much that meditating is key to achieving inner-peace and success. This word is in every mouth and every book and it seems that from a woo-woo hippy fancy it has become a decent practice for good people and that it has even been risen to the stage of "the" #1 ritual for successful entrepreneurs.

WHAT IS MEDITATION Now, there are different kinds of meditation but in a nutshell, meditating is about observing with conscious focus. It is the act of consciously focusing on one specific outlet with no resistance. You could focus on a candle, you could focus on counting sheep or counting down numbers, you could focus on a mantra, such as a word, a short sentence or a sound. You could also focus on a specific noise in your environment like the washing machine tune or the birds chant, you could focus on your breathing and you could focus on your heartbeat. But my favourite one is to focus on my physical sensations. As you can see it's all about focusing, focusing on something outside ourselves or focusing on something inside ourselves, but focusing. And maybe you'll have noticed, it is not about removing anything. It is not about removing thoughts and it is not about removing pain. It is all about focusing but what is very important is that it is focusing without resistance. And no resistance means you’re not projecting anything but receiving instead. It’s more an input mode rather than an output one. And it also mean you’re not judging anything that is happening during the process as being good or bad but instead staying neutral. WHAT MEDITATION IS NOT I’ve heard some people say that surfing or washing dishes was their meditation. I can myself meditate in all sorts of daily activities and public spaces so I attest it is possible and doable but while it is so, I doubt those surfing and washing activities can be called meditation in most cases. The reason is that meditation requires consciousness, observation and focus. It is about presence and intention. Now, this is only my opinion and my understanding and I am conscious that truth is a very personal thing, but since I am right now writting on my personal blog, I guess this is the place to share my truth. So to me, the activity that is going on for those people including me who're surfing or washing dishes is more about having fun, daydreaming or simply enjoying the moment than about meditating. Now, I totally agree that it may look similar to mindfulness and it might actually be it, but the distinction would stand in whether there is focus, presence and intention. And I have nothing against enjoying the present moment, daydreaming or having fun. In fact those activities are extremely powerful ingredients in designing the life we want, a fulfilling, successful and basically happy one. I just wanted to make some distinctions between the different tools and practices and ultimately define the term meditation. HOW I CAME TO MEDITATE At some various points during my awakening journey I certainly came across the word and the practice. My first attempt was around my 18 years old. At the time, I tried my hand at meditation through esoteric teachings without clearly naming it. Many years later I came across the practice again but this time through the label itself because it was showing up everywhere around me. At this point I understood I could not possibly continue on my personal growth without learning how to meditate and make it a regular practice. Though, I though I was not the kind of person who would be able to do that. As it happened, a friend of mine, Rajat, talked to me about a Vipassana retreat he had attended some time before and he briefed me about all I needed to know about it. I straight away knew it was exactly what I needed and so I jumped onto the occasion. Soon after I was attending the 10-days Vipassana silent retreat in the Blue Mountains, Australia. It was 12-hours meditation a day, with no speaking and no eye or physical contact. I thought silence would be the most difficult part for me but to my surprise it was totally fine. Meditating itself felt quite easy which surprised me too since I am and certainly was the kind of person who tends to think and overthink more than the average. And by the way, if I can meditate, I can assure you, you can meditate too.

WHAT I LEARNED AND DISCOVERED In this retreat I learnt the Vipassana meditation which they were conveying kind of as being the "true, proper and original" way to meditate^^... ok, I found this perspective really arrogant in regard with the other types of meditation but I have to agree that this technique is very profound and I can even see in how it might be more powerful in some ways than some other techniques. Anyway, each technique has its own purpose and time and I do not believe in the existence of One truth or One way. What I discovered over there through meditation is that physical sensations have way more significance and power than we think. They hold within themselves the totality of our life memory and our especially traumatic experiences. I know that because I experienced it for myself. During the Vipassana retreat, while I was scanning my body and feeling each part of it, piece by piece from head to feet and feet to head, I realised that each time I was feeling a specific sensation at a specific location in my body, I was calling and opening a specific memory from my childhood linked to a specific trauma. And each time I was passing over the same location and feeling its sensations I was reaching another memory related to the same root issue. Now this was not small stuff. I was experiencing massive emotional reactions. Those memories were making me unexpectedly cry big time so I know I was touching something deep. That's how I know that physical sensations have to be taken seriously and that they are seriously powerful as well as being the doorway to our subconscious mind. And anyway, books and spiritual philosophies will tell you that too. What I discovered as well while meditating in this retreat is that eyes can help connecting with traumas and past experiences, and that they can help shift brain connections. I noticed that when I was trying to feel the parts of my body, my eyes were moving into different directions like if they were trying to find the location in space and in my brain of which I was trying to feel. And when I had found the right spot with my eyes I could eventually feel the sensations in my body and access the information the sensations were carrying. What I understand clearly now is that each position of the eyes is matching a specific sensation in the body and a specific memory in the mind. This is I credibly powerful because it means that we can resolve traumas and reprogram our brain into healthy thought and emotional patterns by shifting neuropathways between events and the thoughts and emotions associated to them, just by moving the eyes and feeling the sensations. Now, when I asked questions to the teacher, she said it was not what we had to do and that I had to follow the teachings. She told me to stop focusing on specific parts of my body and to scan it piece by piece instead. She also said to leave my eyes alone because they weren’t part of the teachings either. I did not appreciate her answers and since I had always been a bit rebellious I did not always follow those rules to the letter and quite quickly started to follow my own guidance. I kept meditating after the retreat both the Vipassana and my own version of it, religiously for one hour in the morning and one hour at night, sometimes two or more. I found out later on in a book called The Miracle Of The Breath, written by Andy Caponigro, that my own version of meditation was actually a mix of two or three trauma healing techniques presented in the book. I also came across the EMDR and NLP techniques that I didn’t know anything about at the time of the retreat. No need to specify that after that I stopped feeling guilty for not following the strict “proper” Vipassana rules. I today totally embrace my personal inner-wisdom (well, I actually try my best to do so). MY MEDITATION ROUTINE If I used to meditate every morning and every night, it is not the case anymore. I now meditate at any time throughout the day, when I need it. This suits me better because I believe that spirituality and personal development is a way of living, not a morning or a night ritual. I do not conceive anymore to be spiritual and wise for 2 hours and then go back to my sleeping state for the rest of the day. Now it's a process. I guess I could not have the mindset and lifestyle I have now without first having taken a meditation habit which was greatly helped by daily routines. CONCLUSION The bottom line is that meditation has helped me connect with the deepest part of myself, unstuck some subconscious memories and resolve some traumatic experiences. It is still benefiting me in this way but now it is also helping me process my ongoing emotions. I am now discovering how meditating is also helping me connect with my inner-wisdom and intuition and therefore become my own guide and authority. The end result is less and less anxiety and less and less self-sabotage, and ultimately a greater sense of peace, unity, freedom and empowerment. And I am still on my way of discovering more and more magic. This is what meditation can do for you too and it can even have some other great and awesome benefits that are more personal to you. Ok. So I'm going to stop this article here and will detail in a next one the exact process I use to meditate and will explain how you can meditate too. I'll see you in the next article. In the meantime, go on peace, unity and freedom.

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