From Rishikesh to Lhasa, from LA to Ubud, Meditation is the rage. Those who don’t actually get down to it, can talk about it, which is almost the same thing! From the Tibetan lamas who spend their lives in a semi meditative state, to those who dabble now and then, meditation is the key. Said to calm the mind, lower blood pressure and even open the doors to spiritual expansion, it seems to be a process we cant live without.
Do we really need to meditate? Can it help us to improve our lives, or is it just a fad? Since the Beatles discovered meditation and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India around 50 years ago, meditation has been something many people have at least a passing flirtation with.
Why should we meditate?
Mediation is ancient and the sages have known about its secrets long before the Beatles or any other westerner discovered its benefits. Yet what are the benefits? The story is, meditation benefits health and more. High blood pressure, depression, heart disease, cancer and chronic pain just for starters. Anxiety and stress are also alleviated to the point that some years ago, the British Police Force introduced meditation for their more stressed out members. At a time when police absenteeism increased 35% from 4,544 in 2010 to 6,129 in 2015 due to the psychological reasons of stress, anxiety and depression, it was clear that something was needed to help. So mindfulness and meditation classes were introduced to help solve the problem. Even the US Marines have been given help and it has been shown that the control group of meditating, mindful marines react to stress far better than those who don’t.
Just a few minutes a day is enough to bring plenty of benefits, which would start with a calm demeanour, a focused mind and a clarity that just makes everything better.
How do we meditate?
The simplest form of meditation and a great place to start, is to sit quietly, without disturbance, and breathe, watching the breath. Watch it or be mindful of it, as you breathe in, and then, as you breathe out. Slowly a sense of calm will come to you and you can continue for as long as possible, although even five minutes is a good way to start. Random thoughts will appear, but let them come and go without focusing on them. After some time, the mind will become more still and the “monkey mind” will stop chattering.
Later, as one becomes more adept, it is possible to move on to creative visualisation and other more advanced techniques, that can really change your life. But we need to start somewhere and get started.
If you would like to find a formal class to start, you could try Taksu Spa in Ubud, who hold classes as does the Yoga Barn, while in Canggu, the fabulous Tugu Resort and Spa have elegant meditation facilities. These venues are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are plenty more than you can uncover with a little research. Another, and perhaps the best place to try is the Bali Silent Retreat. Hidden in the cool hills of West Bali the Retreat offers stays from a day, to a week to a month, where people stay silently in most areas and spend their time working on their yoga, meditation and focusing on their lives. Organic vegetarian food makes it a real living experience.
So to mediate or not? Perhaps we all need to try.