By Dr. Alexia Georgousis ND
Nearly twenty years ago I had the privilege of seeing the Dalai Lama here in Toronto. Even though I was seated in the nosebleed section, I was amazed at the power of his presence. Tears spontaneously ran down my cheeks as he walked on stage. It was as if my heart completely opened and all the hidden walls inside of me melted. I was not alone; the majority of people around me wiped their tears, sitting in silence, eyes fixed on his every movement – and he hadn’t even uttered a word.
His opening statement was worth the price of the ticket; “I am just a man” he said. Then shortly there- after; “Don’t try to be a Buddhist. Be yourself.” Hearing those words felt like I was being wrapped in a warm blanket on an icy cold night.
I mention this story because I attribute those simple, wise words of the Dalai Lama to be what encouraged me to continue to practice and study meditation to this day. I had struggled for years trying different techniques, teachers and styles. I read extensively on the subject, took courses and even became an Applied Mindfulness Meditation Specialist. Despite this training I would be frustrated or disappointed that the lasting changes I was hoping for were fleeting. I would still be impulsive at times, anxious, sad or angry, and yet I continued to practice inconsistently and often with reluctance. Then one day something clicked. I began to notice I was struggling with my struggle. For example; judging my meditation practice as either good or bad, having expectations and attachments to a specific outcome or feeling disappointed with not being able to control my thoughts.
Noticing my struggle was exactly what the Dalai Lama meant when he said “be yourself.” I needed to just be with my experience, even if it was struggle. We here in the western world are so focussed on “doing,” we rarely pay attention to ourselves. That is; our breath, our thoughts, our speech, how we move our body, how we eat or even how we listen – and THAT is what meditation is about. It is the practice of focussing our attention to whatever we are experiencing in the moment. Meditation is not limited to closing our eyes and shutting out the world – it is one technique of many to practice inner awareness. However, the practice of noticing with our eyes and ears open, allows us to be fully present to what is – the practice of being. Meditation is essentially cultivating inner stillness regardless of what is happening outside of us.
Why do we need inner stillness? Well, for starters we become less reactive to whatever is happening around us. Reactivity and impulsivity are high energy states which are incredibly draining over time. There are of course, situations where we need to be reactive; such as crossing the road and seeing a speeding vehicle heading our way. However, reactivity does not support harmonious relationships in our day to day lives for obvious reasons. Being less reactive does not mean we become detached or apathetic. Quite the contrary; over time, the practice of meditation (inner stillness), improves our focus, confidence ability to listen and (dare I say it?), our ability to access to our own inner wisdom.
For me inner wisdom is consciousness/spirit– the part of us that is wise and powerful. When I am able to access this calm awareness, I know I am exactly where I need to be. I feel calmly energized. I don’t need to be right and my physical body feels relaxed. I am better able to respond from a place of authenticity, empathy and compassion – all because I am here in the moment.
Here are some examples of how to start practicing: While driving, walking or eating, take a breath and notice it. Feel yourself breathing – you can even say to yourself “I am breathing.” This guides your attention to your experience and chances are you will notice an immediate sense of calm in your body, even if just for a millisecond – and guess what?! You just meditated!
In addition to becoming less reactive – which translates to better energy and vitality. You may also begin to be less afraid of challenging situations, people or emotions. I used to be quite fearful of feeling sad. Now when a shift in my mood arrives, I practice allowing it to be there instead of avoiding the feeling. The irony is once I do this, the sadness melts away just like those walls around my heart did with the Dalai Lama’s presence nearly twenty years ago.
Please join me at Innate Wellness Naturopathic Medical Centre to practice meditation
Mar 21, Apr 18 2019
$12 per session