Kundalini yoga teacher and published Author Lynn Roulo explains how and why daily meditation transformed her anxiety, her yoga practice, her work, and her life.
Lots of people ask “why meditate?” The reasons are profound and wide-ranging, but I’ll start by answering a simpler question: “what is meditation?”
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice using various techniques to become deeply present, to direct your focus, and to develop mental clarity, emotional calm, and stability. The fundamental idea is that our mind generates millions of thoughts each day and at least 80 percent of these thoughts are repetitive and useless. Our untrained minds are inefficient, and we waste time and lose energy thinking about meaningless things.
A daily meditation practice is a way to make your thinking more efficient and effective, resulting in greater mental focus and emotional balance. Just as your body needs exercise to be toned, your mind needs meditation to be trained. Do you have thoughts that you’d like to stop thinking about? Meditation can help you do that.
There are lots of different meditation techniques, and it is important to find the one that is right for you. There are silent meditations, guided meditations, and meditation techniques that ask you to chant or to hold specific mudras (hand positions). Experimenting with different techniques is an important part of your meditation journey. Too many people start with a technique that isn’t ideal for them and give up too soon. That almost happened to me.
I tried several different techniques before I found the one that worked for my mind. I started with Vipassana meditation, a technique where you sit in silence and focus on your breath. I dabbled in guided meditations too. The reality was I was just too anxious during that period of my life and rather than focus on my breath or follow the guided voice, I would daydream. I would think about my next meal and then plan my weekend. I would think about lots of external things and then feel guilty that I wasn’t meditating correctly.
Then I found Kundalini Yoga meditations, which incorporate more active and vigorous breathing techniques. For example in one meditation, I was asked to inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds and then hold my breath out for fifteen seconds. The physical challenge of this practice kept my attention, my thoughts quieted down, and I finally began experiencing the benefits of meditation. With this regular, daily meditation practice, I started to see my anxiety drop off, and I began to enjoy my life more.
If you’ve tried meditation and felt like it didn’t work for you, you are not alone. But don’t give up. Keep experimenting because there is a meditation technique that will be effective for you.
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The Scientific Benefits of Daily Meditation
The benefits of meditation are now scientifically observable from fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), a technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. Belle Beth Cooper offers this great explanation in her post “What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate.” In essence, our brains stop processing as much information, stop perceiving imagined threats, and go more “offline.” This slowdown offers a relaxation response, allowing the meditator to experience:
- Better focus
- Less anxiety
- More creativity
- Better memory
- More compassion
- Less stress
On a Personal Note
I started doing Kundalini Yoga meditations during a difficult period in my life. I was going through a painful relationship breakup and was dealing with anxiety. Through the regular practice of these meditations, I’ve watched my life transform. I rarely feel anxiety these days, my mind feels balanced and clear, and I have lots of energy.
The effects are observable. After a few years of daily meditation practice, not only did my anxiety drop off, I decided to redesign my life. I moved from San Francisco, California to Athens, Greece and changed my career from being a chief financial officer to an Enneagram and yoga instructor.
Were these changes all a result of my meditation practice? Not exclusively, but I credit that practice for helping me move into a space where these changes were possible. The anxious, unclear version of myself would never have been able to make such dramatic moves. The calm, stable, clear version of myself had no problem with them.
If you want your life to be better, I strongly encourage you to adopt a mediation practice.
In exploring the meditation technique that is right for you, you’ll find many styles. You may need to experiment a bit until you find the practice that is right for you. Happy meditating!
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