I’ll never forget the first moment I meditated.
Although I had grown up with quite a religious upbringing, and regular group soulful prayer as a family was a common thing, this was something brand new. I had never done a particular breathing exercise. I was 19 years old, on the stunning beach in Byron Bay, an inspirational young man had captivated me with introducing me to two new things that day. Swimming naked in the sea, as well as meditation.
Let’s talk about the meditation; just for now.
He showed me a meditation practice where you gently place your hand on your lower face and as you breathe in your breath through the left nostril only whilst covering the right nostril then as you breathe out you cover the left nostril and breathe out through the right. As it turned out; this is called Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhan Pranayama.
It was as simple as five or so minutes of this concentrated breathing technique. What was amazing was that I noticed the effects immediately. I felt different. Instantly a feeling of peace and calm that I had never experienced in my life. My mind did not seem so busy all of a sudden. Something soothing had swept over me. That’s what was so memorable. I knew now that there was so much more to learn.
Fast forward twelve years and my journey had to lead me to deep explorations of meditation; becoming a meditation teacher and a mindfulness instructor. I became obsessed. I went to India at 21 and learned all kinds of meditations. Stayed in ashrams and yoga centers and discovered all I could. Soaked up everything I could learn about meditation and spirituality. I started to listen to guided meditations on my iPod as I found being guided in a meditation was like having someone hold my hand while walking through a wild jungle, showing me the way through the chaos. I found it so easy and relieving. Since then I’ve lead many meditation groups and have been fascinated at how powerful it is to meditate together as a group and concentrate on similar thoughts and visions.
I loved leading guided meditations as I loved the experience of being guided on a meditation journey myself.
Then mindfulness came into my life. This was the real game changer. I went down to the Yarra Valley in luscious countryside Victoria and undertook the mindfulness teacher training. I have a lot of respect for the Gawler Foundation and the incredible work they do. I developed the ability to feel my feelings, to be present with my emotions in a new way than ever before. To be really grounded and present in my body. Mindfulness helped me find a serene acceptance of absolutely everything that is taking place in the little universe inside of me. I think this is how meditation really changed my life. My ability to navigate the world of emotions. The reality of being a human, with powerful feelings and sensations that flow through my body. I struggled for a long time with depression and emotional instabilities and using meditation to have more control over my thoughts allowed me to have more control over my emotions. To cultivate more love and compassion for the “negative” or “dark” emotions. I discovered this magical place I could go, being present with my breath, then changing my emotional state as quickly as changing one thought in my mind. I was amazed at the interrelation of thought and emotion, at how intrinsically they are connected. Meditation changed my life because I knew a mind is a precious tool, a wondrous gift, and I learned how to be more in harmony with my own mind. To let it be my friend, the thing that works best for me. And the benefits to my own health, wow, they are endless. The most notable being the immediate effect meditation has upon your nervous system which simply promotes better health in general.
Less stress, more clarity, more focus and greater happiness.
Oh yeah swimming naked in the ocean is a must do; if you never have. It really is another kind of meditation.
Azriel is a mindfulness teacher, entrepreneur, health freak, adventurer and lover of life.