Learn to feel again through meditation
In 2005, I felt a strong urge to learn more about yoga and meditation. This compulsion marked the beginning of numerous trips to India, New Mexico and California. In short, I took myself out of my regular, familiar, normal, everyday life and threw myself into completely foreign environments where nothing was at all familiar to me.
In India, I travelled to very remote areas, staying in ashrams, meeting with and studying with yogis, swamis, and gurus who had begun practicing yoga as young children. Some masters had been teaching yoga and meditation for over 70 years.
My senses were challenged to the extreme. I saw things I had never seen before and experienced new conditions. Lying in bed, with my eyes closed, I heard strange new sounds. There was no denying I was in a different place, and I no longer needed my eyes to see this. I was reminded of the importance of stretching yourself, getting out of your comfort zone, and trying something new. It is so easy to get into habits and routines. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as my experience, but I suggest you take a new course; try a new sport, restaurant, or yoga and meditation retreat; meet new people, or travel to a new place!
I wanted to take these ancient teachings, integrate them into my lifestyle, and teach others how to do so as well—in the hope of having a better quality of life, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Ten years earlier, I had graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Education degree and was very excited to teach. For the next decade, I taught in the schools and coached and trained athletes—including myself, as I was competing, too.
In 2006, I was still training athletes, but now I was also teaching yoga and meditation in schools; businesses; corporations, and a variety of other facilities—locally and internationally. At the time, there were not many people teaching meditation classes or workshops, especially in the schools and businesses, so it was sometimes met with skepticism and uncertainty. However, once students began the practice, the relaxation and calmness many of them experienced shifted their perception. They began to see the benefits, as they clearly felt a change.
“Life had renewed itself.”
It was an amazing experience to watch people transform right before my eyes. Many students went off their medications, with the guidance of their doctors and psychiatrists. In fact, my clients and I often refer to our meditations as our “meds.” (Please know—I think medication has its place—this is another alternative you may wish to explore.).
There are so many incredible stories I would love to tell, but one has stayed with me to this day. At the end of my meditation classes, I give people an opportunity to share their experiences. About nine years ago, a doctor, who had been coming to my meditation classes for quite some time, spoke for the first time. He said that, before he started meditating, he had been numb (did not really feel anything) for many years. When he spent time with his children, he was not really “there.” After meditating, he now felt “present,” and experienced a deep emotional connection to his children. As well, when he went to work, something had shifted. It was as if his work environment had changed. He now saw everyone and everything so differently that he fell in love with his job again. Life had renewed itself, and his passion was back. He was feeling again. Nothing had changed, except his perception of everything around him. By the time, he finished speaking, there was not a dry eye in the class.
After teaching in schools for 20 years, I could see the stresses and pressure faced by teachers, students, and parents. I even noticed young children whose feelings were “numbed,” much like the doctor in my class. So, with that in mind, I developed a TIME OUT: Mindfulness Kit with techniques and exercises for teachers, students, and parents, which is being used in schools. It can be employed by anyone, anywhere, at any time. The mindfulness techniques are for relaxation; stress reduction; memory; concentration; focus; depression, and increased telomerase activity (which is correlated with slowing the cellular aging process). I invite you to try one of these mindfulness practices (see above). It is simple and easy to do. All you need is you!
“I was reminded of the importance of stretching yourself.”
Sit tall, chin in, with a straight spine, and crossed legs (easy pose)—or in a chair with feet flat on the floor (do not cross ankles or legs. Place arms across the chest with hands under the armpits, and palms open against the body.
Raise (shrug) the shoulders up, toward the earlobes, without cramping the neck muscles. Close eyes and breathe through the nostrils.
Practice long, deep breathing for 3-11 minutes. If your mind wanders, try counting backwards from 27 to 1 (Inhale 27, Exhale 27; Inhale 26, Exhale 26, and so on.), or mentally say the following mantra: Sat Nam (pronounced Sut Nom). Inhale Sat, Exhale Nam.