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Today I’m honored to share a guest post by Marcia Keilen about the powerful practice of meditation. I first read Marcia’s work on Elephant Journal, and I loved her words about how yoga extends beyond asana. As she said, she loved yoga most for the way the time spent on the mat alone gave her access to her inner wisdom.
Marcia explores that even further in this reflection on how meditation has allowed her to wake up to her life in ways she never imagined were possible.
Meditation: My Personal Journey
By Marcia KeilenThis is my personal story about the transformational power of meditation.
My experience meditating started out many years ago, sometime during the 1990s. I had been attending some yoga classes on and off when I first became interested in the subject of meditation. Since I lived in a small, rural community, my best resources were books. I read books on mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Sharon Salzberg. I practiced the suggested meditations and did this for a while, but was not consistent with my practice. This was a pattern that would continue on and off for a number of years as I just didn’t know how to fit a meditation practice into my life.
In 2004, I went through a 200 hour teacher training program and started my journey as a yoga teacher which continued with me finishing up the 500 hour yoga teacher training in 2007. It was during the advanced part of my teacher training that I was introduced to some more meditation techniques. I then met a Buddhist minister who taught me some guided meditations. This seemed to keep my interest a bit longer than my previous experience but still my meditation practice was rather erratic.
Then in the year 2009 I found myself at a crossroads in my life. I was really struggling and my life continued to spiral downwards. Actually, this was a continuation of a pattern that started years before, only I was not aware of just how confused and lost I had become.
The following quote pretty much sums it all up:
“In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself within a dark woods
Where the straight way was lost.” ~ Dante Alighieri
I then began searching for some type of retreat I could go to that would not only detox me on a physical level but on an emotional level, as well. Also, something that would reconnect me with my spiritual roots and help me rediscover my authentic self. I took to the Internet and did several searches. The one place that caught my eye was the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, CA. They had a program called Perfect Health and there was an option of doing a 10 day program. I thought, “Why not?”
I signed up for the program that started end of August and ran into September. Little did I know at the time how transformational this part of my journey would be.
I arrived at the Chopra Center for Well Being and the very first part of the program was learning a meditation technique called Primordial Sound Meditation. My teacher was a man by the name of Davidji and everything he said about his own exploration of different types of meditation immediately resonated with me. I thought finally, a meditation technique that I can stick with and apply in my daily life. He took all the mystery and myths out of what a meditation practice is. That 10 day program released so many toxins out of me physically and emotionally. I really struggled on an emotional level, something that took me by complete surprise. The Perfect Health program is an Ayurvedic program called Panchakarma. The following information is taken from the Chopra Center for Well Being website describing this program:
“Several times each year, we offer a 10-day Perfect Health program that includes panchakarma, an elegant Ayurvedic cleansing process that releases accumulated toxins and stress from the mind-body system. You will receive daily panchakarma therapies and massage treatments tailored to your unique mind-body constitution. Your healing arts master will select specific essential oils and natural herbs to purify and nurture you at the deepest cellular level.”
I spent a lot of my time crying and releasing deep emotional wounds, essentially I was a basket case all 10 days. I am so grateful for Dr. Valencia Porter who took time to talk to me one on one as I struggled with so many overwhelming emotions. The Ayurvedic treatments were very nurturing and I felt I was in a safe space to just allow the whole process to unfold in the most advantageous way. There was a small group of us going through this program who really bonded during this time and I will be forever grateful for their support. But essentially it was up to me to do all the necessary inner work.
What really struck me was how much the meditation became the biggest gift I took away with me from this program. I immediately signed up for Seduction of Spirit, the signature meditation program of the Chopra Center. This was going to be held in August of 2010 in Sedona, AZ. In the meantime, I continued practicing my meditation on a regular basis.
Since some of the benefits that we take out of meditation include reduced stress, making more conscious choices, being less reactive, more compassionate, less judgmental, to name a few, I was hopeful that my life would now turn around. Well, it did, just not in a way I had expected.
Looking back it seems that my pattern was to prove to everyone that I was unlovable, not good enough, didn’t deserve people in my life who treated me well, and the list goes on, but this is essentially how I felt. So, I hit rock bottom in 2010 and found myself in the underworld trying to find my way back into the light. Also, during this time I had a serious lower back injury that laid me up for about eight weeks which I felt was a culmination of my feelings of inadequacy and lack of self love. At the time it was hard for me to understand how this could happen after integrating a regular meditation practice into my life. But now I see that my meditation practice actually allowed me to be aware of what I was doing, something that had not happened before. In the midst of the chaos a light bulb went off and I finally gained insights that my behavior was completely out of sync and counter to my authentic self. This was a time of self-discovery and the life long pattern was finally broken.
I then continued going to several more Chopra events and finally went through the Primordial Sound Meditation teacher training which makes me a certified meditation teacher. My regular meditation practice has brought many gifts into my life. Not that I am perfect now by any means but I am living a life of integrity and being true to my values. I credit my meditation practice for helping me choose the healers that have been exactly what I needed at each critical point in my life.
As I continue on my meditation journey, I have discovered more and more synchronicities in my life and I am learning to be more self loving and self forgiving. As I heal and become more loving and compassionate towards myself, I am then able to spread more love and compassion out into the world. The healing of our world really does start with our own inner healing and connection to our authentic self.
My meditation practice also has helped me to develop a sense of gratitude and inner peace. I am truly grateful for all the many teachers who have come into my life, the ones who had my best interest at heart and even those who didn’t. In fact the latter were probably my best teachers and taught me the life lessons that I needed the most in order to become who I am today. My meditation practice is an ongoing journey and every day I approach it with no particular expectations, just allowing it to unfold and trusting the process. This is also what I take out of my practice into my everyday life.
My practice is what keeps me grounded and allows be to connect to the highest aspect of myself. In the moments of stillness between thoughts is where I find my deepest insights, my authentic self, inner wisdom and inner peace. I am forever grateful.
Marcia Keilen is a yoga teacher, meditation teacher, but mostly, she is a student of life and all the lessons that it has taught her and continues to teach her. She is finding that nothing heals more than love, that in the final analysis, all that matters is love. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Thanks again, Marcia, for the inspiration to make time to sit in meditation! Wishing you much peace and happiness.