by Dr Rachel Hall, Holistic Dentist, Kenmore, Brisbane
When I started on my path of personal development I thought it would be a good idea to incorporate meditation – after all, everyone else seemed to be doing it. All the self-help books raved about it, and it seemed you couldn’t connect to your higher self (whatever that was) without it. There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to be enlightened, meditation was the key.
And so I tried various styles of meditation, from ones where I sat in certain poses (I could never do the cross-legged, lotus position thingy), ones where I had to hold my hands and fingers in a certain way, OM-ing, chanting, visualisations, guided meditation, ones with complex breathing patterns, ones where you focused on parts of the body, short ones, long ones, hours-at-a-time ones and a combination of all of the above.
Enlightenment? Far from it.
All these meditations left me with was pins and needles in my feet, a numb bum, sore back, a headache and a sense of total exasperation. Why, oh why couldn’t I do it right? I never felt calm or relaxed, there was no enlightenment, and why were there so many different ways to do it?
Then, in 2004, I was introduced to the Gentle Breath Mediation at a workshop presented by Serge Benhayon.
OK, so what did I have to do this time? Stand on my head, or pat my head and rub my tummy while reciting the Bhagavad Gita?!
No, actually I could sit in a chair. And the only prerequisite was that my arms and legs weren’t crossed and I sat relaxed and comfortable. “Comfortable? But this is meditation!!”
Next I was to close my eyes. “OK I can do that.”
Then just focus on the in-breath, making sure to make it gentle. “Is that it, surely there’s more?”
Make the in-breath gentle and focus on the tip of the nose, no need to worry about the out-breath yet. “Gotta be building up to something, surely.”
Feel the coolness of the in-breath. “Oh, all right, this must be the warm-up exercise.”
Now bring your focus to the out-breath, make it gentle. “Well, that seems straightforward.”
In-breath, out-breath; focus on the tip of the nose; in feels cool, out feels warm… make it gentle. “All right, I’ve got that, can we move on to the meditation proper now?”
Focus on the rhythm and the gentleness, let your body surrender to that gentleness. “Come on, get on with it, this isn’t hard enough, it’s never going to work.”
Breathe in your own rhythm. “Yes, didn’t you hear me? I’ve got that bit!”
If you feel like you are nodding off, take a longer in-breath but keep it gentle. “You’ve got to be kidding – we’ve only just started. How can anyone be falling asleep yet?”
“Erm… hang on a second, something’s happening here. Oh wow, this feels lovely. There’s a kind of warmth in my chest and tingling up my spine.”
In-breath, out-breath, in your own rhythm. “Actually, that’s feeling really lovely.”
OK, open your eyes.
“What, is that it?!! Surely not, we’ve only just got going! That can’t have been more than five minutes. But hang on, I feel exquisite – no bliss, no sense of being out of it, no headache, no frustration at not being able to do it right. I’m all warm in my chest in a really pleasant way. That had to be the practice run… OK, I’m ready to do that for an hour or more now.”
But no. That was – and is – it. Simple, comfortable, easy to do and no need to meditate for more than five to ten minutes. No ‘hours’ spent looking for answers, only 5-10 minutes to connect back to me, then take that into everything I do – my head says “Nah, that’s never going to work”, yet the feeling of warmth in my body says, “Ah, it already has”.
Who knew meditation could be so simple?