I signed up for the introductory course of Art of Living in 2007. A friend's father was the teacher, and I thought this was an excellent way to be friends with her. Up until then, my tryst with the spiritual part of me was minimal. I didn't know anyone in my vicinity who did meditation of any kind. The AOL course was my introduction to the world of meditation. It was a mix of asanas, breathing exercises, and simple meditation focusing on the breath.
I practised the kriya (set of yoga asanas & meditation) for a few months. It had a positive impact on my well-being and academic results. The results of the seventh semester (Engineering) were my best numbers. A surprising good grade cannot be a mere coincidence. I did not do anything different in my preparation; the only difference was the kriya practice.
I stopped the practice after a few months and my eighth semester marks dropped. Though I had experienced the benefits of the meditation practise first-hand, I did not do enough to sustain the habit and make it part of my everyday living.
It's akin to having a magic wand in the arsenal but not using it.
I dabbled into different meditation methods when I began my work life, but none of them worked. I tried to rekindle the kriya but it did not work. Through this period, I dealt with anxiety without any tools. I would be worried more than required, and emotions would get the better of me. Yet, I did not look into my arsenal for the magic wand.
I moved cities in 2017 for my career. The move and the new independent married life became a source of stress leading to the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. In my renewed interest in well-being, I came across the Headspace app and tried meditating after a gap of 10 years. It worked initially, but then it took an enormous amount of willpower to stick to the practice. I stopped after a few months, and I hadn't seen much of a difference in my well-being.
I changed jobs and moved to the world of Startups. Through my habit of listening to podcasts, I came across the work of Sam Harris and his meditation app called "Waking Up". I took the 40-day introductory course in the app. The experience of meditation was different. I found myself going back to it, wanting more. I started meditating 20 minutes every day in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. I did not get into the rigour of doing it daily, but I was doing more meditation than I had ever done. There were gaps, but I kept going back.
It felt like I stumbled on the magic wand that I had used a decade back.
This time I did not have any intentions to lose it. I stuck with it as though my life depended on it. It's been a few months now since I have been doing it daily, and it has had a massive impact on my life.
Here's how meditation has helped:
- Decreased anxiety before important events at work.
- Increased awareness of the chatter inside the mind.
- Delay in feeling an emotion and acting on it.
I still have lousy emotion days, but I bounce back sooner. I can see the tangible difference the practice of meditation has made in my life. I have now acquired a fear of losing the magic wand, and this fear drives the practice. I think the fear will subside with time; until then, I intend to meditate every day.