Living in a society full of demands and deadlines, it’s easy to overlook the importance of taking a ‘time out’ to focus on health and wellbeing.
You might opt for a beach getaway or a Thai massage to restore your sanity, or you can spend a few minutes of each day meditating.
“Meditation takes you beyond the mind’s noisy chatter into the pure awareness that is the source of all your happiness, inspiration and love” – Deepak Chopra.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to relieve stress, restore calm and cultivate inner peace. It’s simple, inexpensive and can be practiced anywhere, any time and by anyone – not just yoga buffs!
Author, meditation facilitator and intuitive counsellor, Tami Roos, strongly advocates the daily practice of meditation. For the past decade, Tami has been teaching meditation to people of all ages and has authored a book on the subject titled, “The Gift: Presence to Power”.
Gypsea blogger, Michelle, caught up with Tami to demystify meditation and to find out how we can benefit from making this life-changing practice part of our daily routine.
Q: Tami, when did you first embrace the practice of meditation?
A: In 1999, my husband Paul and I attended a primordial sound meditation weekend in Crows Nest near Sydney. We really didn’t know a lot about meditation at the time, but thought we would give it a go on the recommendation of a few friends who said it was one of the most amazing things they’ve ever done. Since that weekend, meditation has become a daily practice for me.
Q: What does the practice of meditation involve?
A: Meditation is learning to relax the body and quiet the mind. It is a form of relaxation and involves making a commitment to sit and actually practice. That’s really the first step. Meditation is a cumulative practice, the more that you practice the better the benefits. You can’t attain results unless you sit and relax the body and quiet the mind. The more that you engage in quieting the mind and being still, the more you’ll start experiencing in your own life the beneficial changes that come from practicing meditation.
Q: Where did the practice of meditation originate?
A: Meditation has been around for thousands of years. I did my PhD in Parapsychic Science and wrote my dissertation on meditation – on its benefits physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. From all my studies, there is not an original person you can attribute to being the “father” of meditation. There are many different streams of meditation, and some of the earliest written records of meditation come from the Vedas around 1500 BCE.
For a long time, meditation was not widely used in the west. It was the yogis and different teachers who brought it to the United States in the 1920s and 1930s to try to generate more awareness of what meditation is about. Paramahansa Yogananda is probably one of the most recognized individuals to have done so. There’s been a number of different people at the forefront of meditation, encouraging meditation, for example, Deepak Chopra (author, public speaker and MD) and Ghandi (the leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India) was big on practising meditation.
Q: Why do you think the western world has been slow in taking up the practice?
A: Definitely because of stereotypes. I think people originally thought that meditation was this thing where you had to get yourself into a contortionist pose and chant “om”. Some people also think it’s a form of
religion, but it’s not. Meditation helps bring clarity to your thinking and balance to your life. It reduces stress and anxiety and is the ultimate tool for relaxation.
Q: What are some of the benefits of meditation for the body and soul?
A: Scientific evidence on the benefits of mediation is widespread. There’s been more than 800 research and review papers around the world on meditation proving that it works.
The main benefits are:
1. The reduction of stress and anxiety.
2. An increase in focus and concentration levels.
3. An increase in one’s overall sense of wellbeing.
4. Greater energy levels.
5. Better sleeping patterns.
6. Improvement in personal relationships. The number one precursor to poor communication is stress, so if you’re feeling less stressed you can communicate more effectively. Long term meditators often see an improvement in all of their life relationships (with their spouse, friends, children, boss, etc.) as a result of cumulative the practice.
7. Meditation increases your DHEA levels – which are the body’s anti-aging hormones. Clinical studies have shown that those who have meditated consecutively for five years or longer are chronologically 12 years younger than their biological age. Pretty amazing!
8. Finally, you become much more efficient with your time – even if that seems like a paradox! You become much better at prioritising, which curbs procrastination. People who meditate accomplish so much more because their thinking becomes more orderly. They become more focused.
Q: Is there a right or wrong way to meditate?
A: In my view, there is no right or wrong way, as we are all unique individuals. You should simply practice the form of meditation that resonates with you personally.
Q: That said, how does one meditate?
A: There are many ways to meditate. I teach silent meditation, but with a focus on the breath.
There is also meditation using a mantra, which could either be primordial sound meditation (which involves chanting a mantra) or transcendental meditation (which involves repeating a mantra that resonates with you).
There are also guided visualisation meditations and the ‘candle method’. The latter involves focusing your gaze on the flame of a candle to help clear unwanted or unnecessary thoughts. This helps get you into a meditative flow.
Q: What meditative practice works best for you?
A: The silent method works best for me. I like having no noise. I have practised other forms of meditation, such as primordial sound meditation and transcendental meditation, I also did a two-year course with guided meditation using visualisations, but I keep coming back to the method using silence.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have thoughts while practising that form of meditation, because thoughts do creep in, which is natural. When that happens however, I listen to the sound of my breath which halts the thoughts. You could also observe the rise and fall of your chest instead of listening to the sound of your breath.
Q: Tell us about your book, “The Gift: Presence to Power”. What motivated you to write it?
A: The impetus for my book was a conversation I had with some friends over dinner. A gentleman at the table said, “I really want to learn meditation, but I can’t get into that contortionist pose”. And that really struck me. There are still so many people out there who think you need to have this “yoga flexibility” in order to meditate when you absolutely don’t!
Q: Did you learn your meditative practices from any particular person?
A: I initially learnt from my wonderful teacher on that weekend back in 1999. I then continued to learn by practising and undertaking my own independent research.
Q: What advice would you give to a person who wanted to try meditating, but has never done it before?
A: Find a teacher! I truly believe it’s important to have a teacher as they are an excellent sounding board for any questions or concerns you may have. After all, that person is living the practice of meditation on a daily basis.
You can also purchase guided meditation CDs from bookstores to start you on your journey.
Q: How did learning to meditate impact your life, i.e. your approach to day-to-day activities and emotional state?
A: When I look back on who I was prior to learning how to meditate and compare that version of myself with who I am today, I almost don’t recognise me. Back then, I was pretty burnt out and tired. I didn’t have any energy to give. I was a “yes” person with no boundaries. Even if I had three events on in the one day, I would try to turn up to all of them. As a result of learning to meditate, I learnt how to prioritise myself. The people around me started to notice the change; that I had become much more calm and relaxed. The glow came back to my face and I was much more patient. It had a profound effect on me.
I took to the practice of meditation so quickly that it became a non-negotiable. It’s like brushing my teeth – an integral part of my daily regime.
Ultimately, meditation is a choice. It’s about choosing you; acknowledging that you are important and that you need to look after yourself. For more information about meditation, visit: http://www.tamiroos.com/
Interview by Michelle Larin.
For a quick introduction to meditation try these apps HERE