Yoga meditation used to be something 
        I really disliked. 

At the grand old age of 25 whenever my  teacher would bring up a short 10 min meditation practise at the end of yoga class (TEN WHOLE MINUTES) I would get all fidgety, uncomfortable, close and open my eyes, roll my eyes, bang my knee up and down and wonder - when will this be over!  We are talking here  10 minutes. 
I just couldn't take it. 

I couldn't take 10 minutes of being with myself and looking inside. I couldn't calm down enough to have 10 minutes of focusing on achieving nothing but awareness of my breath. My mind was sooooo all over the place. Attached to every single bit of the reality I felt I have a firm grasp on. So firm in fact I could not let it go for 10 little minutes. My mind was so attached it could not look at itself for 10 minutes. I had no focus, no concentration. And I had a lot of things inside me that I was not prepared to look at in a compassionate, loving, calm way owning every single bit of who I was at that moment or what had happened to me in the past. I was ready to jump and get on with what I had been doing for a good part of my life - run!  Run away Run away from myself, from my past, from my pain, my shame, my desires anything that caused my mind to be anxious and my body to jump up and down. I was hellbent on distracting myself with a number of things - ambition, boys, activities, art, duties. Anything but observing the inside ...all of the inside. As you might guess my yoga journey or the journey of life made me face ALL OF IT -  the pain, the fear, the desire, the shame, the guilt, the past, the present and my future...all that Aristotel will tell you is at the heart of being human. All that yoga and Buddhist meditation will tell you -  you need to befriend before you can release its hold on you and move into a more aware, blissful and enlightened state of being where you can not only experience bliss but actually tolerate it and remain in bliss for longer periods of time as well as let go of the suffering without clinging like a maniac to past or future. 

Today I love meditation. And I must say I have to thank the Buddhist teaching of meditation because what my yoga teachers were teaching me did not cut it for me - it was very much based on the tantric tradition and it had too much of an explosive effect on me. Yes it did stimulated my creativity and yes it awoke in me powers and desires that were enticing. But it also had a very destabilizing effect on an already way too explosive mind and it took me a good number of years to understand that I as a person needed to learn to get grounded and stable before I go detonating my chakras. ;) For some people who were living in different circumstances and had different support mechanisms tantric meditation can be great. Not everyone is me and we need to learn to use the different types of meditation according to our needs and abilities and with the support of teachers who are there for you and able to offer you help. 

Today I love meditation. I feel that my whole yogic search was a stepping stone preparing me for meditation with awareness on my breath. It has brought so much insight into my nature, ability to look at myself, stability in my mind and body, a physical understanding of life. It did not happen overnight and you need to really train and PUSH yourself to learn to experience 45 minutes of meditation on a regular basis but if you don't start you will never grow in meditation and it is such a wonderful tool. I have experienced 2 sets of 10 day vipasana meditation. During the first ten days I was required to meditate a minimum of 8 hours a day which felt like an un-achieveable crazy number of hours. The second ten days I was down to six. But it took a whole one year of looking at my breath so that I can become calm enough not to force it to perform for me and to observe it's natural state of being and what it was telling me about myself in the moment. I recommend to everyone to invest time and space and energy into learning to mediate. Especially to people with busy minds! Learn to get grounded in the body through yoga and caring for your friends and family. But at a certain moment you will need to gain access to that most intimate space - your mind and what lies beyond it. Peacefulness and contentment. Ability to act with the laws of nature.

   With great gratitude for my yoga teachers and in terms of meditation for my Buddhist      meditation teachers I will now share what I have learned and facilitate for others the        wonderful tools of meditation to the best of my ability.  

There are three types of meditation that I have explored. 
  • Those that calm the mind (anapanasati)
  • Those that delve into the mind to help you gain insight of nature (vipasana)
  • Various tantric forms of meditation which explode certain archetypal karmic images within you (art meditation)
Within these three categories with which I am familiar there are different techniques and exercises that an experienced teacher can guide you into using. It is up to you to practise them. A stretch of dedicated practise of meditation is invaluable to help you then come back to regular life with all it's business and be able to establish a routine of daily meditation of 15 minutes on very busy days perhaps to 45 minutes or more (which for me is the minimum to go deeper) for regular daily practise.  

Some meditation techniques available to us through the teachings of yoga, tantra and Buddhist masters:
  • mantra and kirtan chanting
  • breath awareness 
  • walking meditation 
  • mandala and yantra making
  • yoga nidra 

Yoga nidra is more properly a relaxation sequence with deep healing properties. It can be used as a pre-meditaiton exercise for a number of months to 
help you prepare for a more rigorous meditation experience.  

The ultimate goal is that you apply the mindfulness and awareness you practise on the mat or in class to everyday life situations and activities and it becomes habitual for you. That is not only empowering but also has the side effects of improving your heart activity, greater resilience to stress and a greater ability to resolve stressful situations, an improved agility to deal with difficult emotions and to let go of painful experiences as well as greater tolerance in dealing with physical pain that comes from chronic medical conditions. And call me crazy if you like but I swear ;))) meditation improves your skin tone. :) 

It's like a spa treatment. It starts with the mind but the benefits are tangible and physical as well as emotional and mental. 
Good luck!  

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