Meditation in isolation!

How is your meditation practice working for you now?🧘🏼‍♀️
Just last month, we were discussing here, what we find challenging about practicing meditation. For some, it was maintaining motivation, others it was frustration with a busy mind.

I wrote a couple of posts to help with these challenges which people said were helpful. Yay! 🥳

But then came Covid-19….all of our sudden, we were overwhelmed with all kinds of issues that certainly this generation has never had to comprehend before. Worldwide pandemic, isolation, loss of jobs and businesses, home schooling…if our minds wouldn’t be quiet before…well, they are certainly going to have a lot to say now!😫

So I am curious to know, how is your meditation practice now? Are you still practicing? Maybe you are meditating even more!
How has it changed (if it has)? Please let me know in the comments.🙏

Personally, I am doing more. I have added an additional practice to my routine and it is keeping me sane (although whether the rest of the household agrees may remain debatable).🤔 I’m not saying I find it flawlessly easy but it’s definitely helping me cope!

My additional practice which I decided to start on Spring Equinox and continue until Beltane (May Day) is the chanting of the Gayatri mantra 108 times. (More about this mantra further down).

Mantra meditation helps to keep me focused and I feel a strong connection to source through the vibration of a mantra whether it is recited silently, whispered or chanted aloud.
Mantra meditation doesn’t appeal to everyone but it works for me.
So I have my morning practice of pranayama and heart practice and then enjoying the Gayatri mantra at sunset.

What is the Gayatri mantra?
The Gayatri mantra has been recorded in the Rig Veda (an ancient collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns), which was written more than 2500 years ago. It had possibly been chanted for many centuries before it was written down.
This mantra is often referred to as the Mother of the Vedas and is now chanted throughout the world with love.

There are many translations of the mantra. One that I like in particular is:
“We meditate on the glory of sacred light illuminating the three worlds (physical, mental, spiritual). May that divine light inspire our thoughts”

Chanting the mantra 108 times takes approximately 45 minutes and I am keeping a journal of my experience of it.

So, that is where I am at with my practice. I knew I needed to do more and I had faith that it would help because it always has.

So do let me know how things are going for you with your meditation. Let me know if I can help.

Thanks to Akasha of Lumiere Photography. This photo was taken during our yoga training in Rishikesh, India last year at the Sivanada Ghat.
Here we were inspired daily by the devotional chanting, rituals and meditation practices of ancient Yogi’s passed down through the millenia. They have lasted this long because they truly work.

With love to you and yours always
Bodhini

The importance of grounding

THE IMPORTANCE OF GROUNDING 🌳

What does it mean to be grounded?
To be grounded is to be well balanced, stable, present and able to remain calm in a crisis.

When we are not grounded, we can be distracted easily, become spaced out, prone to panic and even forgetful.

Sometimes grounding can first become an issue for people when they begin meditation or spiritual practice, or even after attending a sound bath.
On occasion, people report feeling light headed or spaced out afterwards. Sometimes this may last for just a few minutes but can last for a day or so, if someone is particularly sensitive.
This can be just because your mind and body are experiencing something new.

This is when it is good to spend some time grounding.
Even those with an established meditation/ spiritual practice need to up their grounding game over time as they go deeper and become more open. ( I can’t emphasise the importance of this enough!)

So how do we ground ourselves?

There are so many ways, see what works for you.
Here is a list of things that I have found helpful personally, but you may find something different works for you.

🏃‍♀️ Exercise!!! My least favourite way to ground but actually seems to be the most effective…annoyingly! 🤣 Yoga, Tai Chi, walking, running, the gym , whatever floats your boat but gets your body moving!

🌳 Being in the great outdoors amongst nature and wildlife. If it’s barefoot even better!

🌬Breathwork. In particular I find Kapalabhati (a pranayama technique in Yoga) very grounding and energising. Some people may prefer to practice belly breathing though.

🥗Eating and drinking mindfully. Taking your time to eat and drink slowly, savouring the experience of each mouthful, tastes and sensations. Reduce stimulants and avoid alcohol (sorry!) Fruit, nuts and root vegetables are particularly good when you need grounding assistance!

👀 Be aware of your senses and the present moment. List the things that you can touch, see, hear, smell and taste from where you are.

🥁 Drumming. Probably my favourite but my neighbour’s least favourite way for me to ground myself. 🙈

I hope that you have found this useful 🙏 I would love to hear from you in the comments section below if you have any further grounding questions or suggestions.

With love
Bodhini x

An introduction to mantra meditation

MANTRA MEDITATION

Mantra was the first practice of meditation that I was introduced to when I first began meditating in 1996. Whilst I have had periods of practicing other types of meditation over the years, I always found myself gravitating back to mantra and it has now been present again in my daily practice for the last few years.

What is Mantra?

A mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
In the many traditions of India, the Sanskrit mantras are said to be word formulas that were discovered by ancient sages as being a particular combination of sound vibrations that when chanted or meditated upon had a specific result on the mind, body and spirit.
The word “Sanskrit” translates to “refined speech”. Sanskrit is believed to be the oldest language in the world.
It is also considered to be the greatest spiritual language of the world as it is made of primordial sounds, and is developed to include the natural progressions of the sound created in the human mouth.
You can practice silent repetition of mantra but the benefits of speaking or singing ancient mantras is said to be balancing and stimulating for different parts of the body and brain as their vibrations touch on meridian points around the mouth (when pronounced correctly).

Which Mantra do we use?
I always believe that like the saying says about the teacher appearing when the student is ready, a mantra will also find you when you are ready.
There are some which many of us use, for example in yoga classes, you may have encountered the mantra OM.
OM is said to be the first sound and the birth of all other sounds. It is often said that all mantras are contained within the sound of OM. OM is the sound of the infinite, representing all that was, is and shall be.
So OM is a rather wonderful way to start if you are not sure which mantra to begin with. To sit in the vibration of OM is truly magical. I will post a link in the comments with a great recording of OM for you to experience this.
There are many mantras that are said to bring gifts in to our lives, mantras for abundance, happiness and healing. It may be tempting to google a mantra that you think will bring you that which you would like the most BUT a mantra really needs to be alive for you to work. There needs to be a deep heart felt connection. Like I said, often the mantra meant for you will come to you when the time is right. This could happen in a number of different ways and it will often happen when you least expect it.

How do we use it?
Some people prefer a silent or soft repetition (Japa) in which they just sit and repeat the mantra to themselves until eventually over time, they become one with the mantra and can just be in its vibration. Some people also use a mala with 108 beads for Japa meditation. Repeating the mantra 108 times as they travel around the mala with their thumb.
When chanting or singing the mantra, you release the sound on the exhale and inhale before repeating again.
There are actually many ways or practicing with mantras including with mudras and visualisations. Far too many to mention here (I could go on all day!)

For thousands of years, throughout the planet, mantras in many languages have been used to quiet the mind, experience inner stillness and experience oneness. You may also find that chanting mantras can strengthen your connection with the Divine and bring about feelings of love, joy and bliss.

Do you practice mantra already?
Do you have a practice from your own tradition/ faith/ culture that you use?
Let me know! I would love to hear from you.

With love
Bodhini 🕉

Meditation and the busy mind

Today, we are going to look at how we deal with the busy mind or emotions that can arise during meditation.

I have always really appreciated the following quote by Dean Ornish M.D Physician and director of Preventative Medicine Research Institute.
“Meditation is simple in concept but difficult to master. Fortunately, you don’t have to master meditation to benefit from it. You just have to practice it. No one ever really masters it completely, but even a few steps down that road can make a meaningful difference. It is the process of meditation that makes it so beneficial, not how well you perform.”

I really feel that this is true. We seem to be under the impression that successful meditation equals a totally blank mind. Actually, this is just wishful thinking. I mean, we would all love for our minds to give it a rest and just be quiet sometimes BUT this is not that realistic. The mind is designed to think! It is how we respond to the thoughts that makes the world of difference and eventually, over time you may just find that not so many thoughts form.

Often people speak of their busy mind with frustration and irritation but actually I have found that the mind responds better to patience, compassion and acceptance. The mind can be stubborn. The more you tell it to be quiet, the noisier it gets!
Sometimes it can be helpful to give it opportunity to say what it’s got to say before you start to meditate.
A great idea that I heard once, was to sit down with a paper and pen and tell the mind it has got 5 minutes to say what it needs to and then it must rest. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down everything that pops into your head. Whatever the mind throws at you. Nonsense, random stuff, shopping lists, whatever. Let it run free and have fun. Then when the timer stops, put the pen down and then settle into your meditation practice.
If thoughts come in and out, just remember that it is totally normal. You are not meditating incorrectly. Just notice the thought or distraction and maybe imagine it drifting back out as you exhale. Even if for a while it feels like you are just exhaling out thoughts, so what? You are human and we think! Just lovingly accept that. Turn the compassion that you extend to friends when they are being hard on themselves back to yourself. Take the pressure off. It really does make such a difference. Meditation isn’t meant to be torture.
Having a guided meditation or app to listen to can be helpful in the beginning if you are really struggling as the voice guiding you can help you maintain focus but eventually it is more ideal to be able to meditate without the need of a guide.
Personally, I have found mantra meditation the most effective point of focus in a meditation practice, but everyone is different.
If you would like me to post about different types of meditation (please comment in the comments section).

Enjoying a regular, slightly distracted meditation is better than never doing it at all.

With regards to challenging emotions or feelings that may arise, this can be common too. Especially if we have difficulty expressing our feelings, have been going through an extremely stressful time or just not had space or time to rest and be with whatever is going on. Sometimes just sitting with a difficult emotion and just letting it have time to come and release (maybe with a good cry) is no bad thing.
However, if it is on-going and you feel that you may be in need of additional support, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
A trouble shared is a trouble halved.
For people suffering with severe anxiety or depression, I would recommend meditation only with an experienced facilitator alongside therapy or counselling. Practicing meditation without the support you need in these cases can actually be detrimental. If the meditation brings up memories that you have suppressed in the past, that can lead to a deluge of negative feelings which may be too hard for some one already suffering from severe anxiety or depression to handle.
So please be gentle and kind to yourselves.

I would love to hear from you if this post has been helpful or if you have any questions or tips to share.

Remember you can also come and try meditation in the many group sessions with me as well as individually.

Wishing you peace always
Bodhini

Meditation: Motivation & Discipline

This post was inspired by a Facebook poll in which I asked followers to tell me the struggles they experience with their meditation practice.

The most popular response was the struggle to find motivation or having the discipline to practice.

So, whenever we decide that we need to make room for something that will be of benefit to our lives (whether that is fitness, health or education), we usually have a good reason for wanting it.
What inspired you to try meditation in the first place?
For myself, it was because I was suffering with unbearable teenage anxiety.
What has it been for you? Improved ability to relax? a desire for more clarity? a release of stress?

Whilst you continue to feel tense, stressed or unable to think clearly, how does this impact your life?
Do you find that you become irritable? Maybe find it harder to communicate with people? Lower energy and a lack of enthusiasm? These things can all have a big impact on our health, relationships and work.
You deserve to enjoy all of these aspects of your life and enjoy them with the people around you.
People often say that they want to get fit, lose weight or stop smoking so that they have more time and energy to spend with their kids and to set a good example
This could also be applicable to meditation.

Re-connecting with our motivation to meditate daily can be key in keeping your practice going. Maybe even write down your motivation, your reason for wanting to meditate and keep it somewhere visible as a reminder.
Is it possible to ask a family member or friend to be your meditation support buddy? Maybe giving you gentle reminders and encouragement. Maybe even meditating together?

If discipline to sit for meditation regularly is an issue, are you putting to much pressure on yourself to sit for too long? Start with small sessions (can be just 5-10 minutes and then gradually extend the duration by a couple of minutes at a time. Meditating daily for ten minutes is better than sitting once a week for a whole hour.
Where in your day can you sit quietly for ten minutes? Choose the most appropriate time and put it in your diary or as a reminder on your phone.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers at University College London found that on average it takes more than 2 months to build a new habit into your life.
So don’t be disheartened if it feels like a slog or you have off-days (science say’s its to be expected!). Take it one day at a time, embrace the process and be kind to yourself.

I hope this is helpful to you. Look out for the next post which will be looking at that busy mind. In the meantime, if you need to remind yourself why setting time to sit in meditation is so beneficial, here is a list of some of possible the benefits.

*Reduced stress *Greater focus *More clarity *Fresh perspective and insights gained *Enhanced connections with people and nature *Increased enjoyment * Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels *Aid in pain management *More energy *Improved immunity

I would love to hear from you if this post has been helpful or if you have any questions or tips to share.

Wishing you all peace always
Bodhini

Celebrating summer solstice

Solstice blessings to all 🙏☀️

The sun is actually shining here in Harpenden this morning 😀

I am noticing in my Facebook feed that many are feeling energised and lively today. Many people seem to have been up since dawn walking, running and swimming etc

This is beautiful to see 💖

I appreciate taking time during the solstice to reflect on the year so far. Reflecting back to the winter, what was happening then and what my intentions for this year were. Then reflecting back to spring to see what had changed and how had I allowed myself to blossom.

Here at the solstice I feel amazed and blessed by the year so far. Life is now very different to how I imagined it would be but I am enjoying the challenges, the opportunities and their lessons very much.

How do you feel now? Let us all congratulate ourselves on the last 6 months. 💖 Regardless of whether you feel much has been achieved or not, accept how you feel about yourself and your life right now. Love yourself for it. Even in times of turmoil, remember that everything is changing, no situation or feeling is permanent. This too shall pass.

Visualise the next six months as a time of vibrancy, creation and positive actions achieving desired results. Feel yourself experiencing the joy and harmony of the next few months as if it has already happened ☀️🙏

Happy solstice my friends. 

With love

Bodhini x

What’s in a name?

On the 8th January 2019 whilst in Rishikesh, India, I received my spiritual name via my teacher, Padma. It is an ancient tradition in many yoga lineages for a student to receive a spiritual name.

The name that I have been given is Bodhini. A Sanskrit name which translates to “the wise or enlightening”, “the possessor of knowledge”.

So what is the point of a spiritual name? Your spiritual name is believed to be the sound of your soul essence. Sanskrit is a sacred, resonant language and the sounds are extremely potent. To use your spiritual name enables you to connect more deeply with your infinite self. To awaken to your true and highest potential. This explanation of using your spiritual name made perfect sense to me as I had already experienced the power of Sanskrit mantras in meditation and chanting.

My birth name of Victoria Louise was one that I kind of grew into and felt more of a connection to after I discovered it’s meaning. Victoria is the Latin for victory or conquer. Louise apparently means renowned warrior. Growing up I felt the exact opposite of a “victorious and renowned warrior” having been bullied into submission at school. As an adult however, I began to almost take comfort in my name and maybe even at times it would motivate me to rise to the challenge and life certainly did provide many challenges to rise up to. As a single mother, you often end up stepping into a brave warrior-like role to protect yourself and your child and there would be the occasional sense of victory after making it through both the big and small battles of life.

Now though, life is different. I feel different. Many great lessons have been learnt along the way. I don’t keep looking at life like a fight that I’ve got to keep winning. There is more acceptance and peace along with a willingness to just go with the flow.

Although this little human still has a considerable way to go to being “wise or enlightened” (might not happen in this lifetime), I felt very connected to the name ‘Bodhini’ immediately. So I feel now that it is time for Bodhini to step forward. I have no idea what life as Bodhini will be like but my heart is calling for me to try it. I ALWAYS follow my heart- so, Bodhini it is.

I greatly appreciate that a change of name can seem strange and that it will take time for people to adjust (and remember).

So feel free to talk to me about it and to ask any questions. Hopefully this transition will be an interesting (and great) experience for us all.

Thank you so much for the love and support that you have shown me on this journey so far.

In deep gratitude and love

Bodhini x

The beginning of my meditation journey

From an early age, I experienced deep feelings of compassion and concern for the world around me. I was often overwhelmed by fear and anxiety for the future of our planet. I worried about the depletion of rainforests, endangered animals and high levels of pollution. I was an enthusiastic member of the “Go Wild club” (junior WWF), but I was extremely sensitive and the evening television news could often send me into enormous waves of panic. As I made my way into the teenage years, my fear for the planet was largely replaced (sorry planet!) by fear of the school bullies.

I was bullied mercilessly at school, mainly because I was small and very shy. An easy target. I longed for the confidence and happiness that seemed to come easily to those around me. I often felt alone, afraid and very confused.

Then I found meditation, or maybe meditation found me. At fifteen years old, I was introduced to Transcendental Meditation by Brian, the father of my great friend, Jade.

It wasn’t easy to begin with but I persevered through my daily sessions of silent mantra recitation, building gradually from a few minutes up to twenty minutes twice daily.

My feelings of anxiety began to subside. I felt lighter and calmer. I experienced moments of clarity and peace and luckily for my impending GCSE’s, I was also able to retain more information with my improved memory (higher grades than predicted were acheived). I felt more confident and able to cope with the turbulent waves of emotion that come with being a teenager.

Over the years, my meditation practice changed. Sometimes it was more consistent and regular than others. I also went on to learn and practice other styles of meditation from a variety of different traditions, so no longer continued to practice TM. I often found that life guided me to the right meditation technique and teacher at the time when it was needed the most. (I am currently training to be a Heart Meditatation facilitator with The Heart of Living Yoga.)

 I am now thirty-seven years old and I am grateful each and every day for the gift of meditation. It has been the friend that had my back through some of life’s challenging situations; school, divorce, raising a child and running a business. If I ever began to feel stressed or an inability to cope then I knew I had to meditate MORE!!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. People often ask me how I got into meditation- so here it is!

If it maybe even inspires just one other person to try meditation out for themselves, then that would be wonderful. Feel free to ask questions and/ or leave comments 🙂

Listening to spirit

Whilst meditating and spending time to nature, I appreciate taking the opportunity to connect to nature spirits like those of plants and trees. I love to watch the birds soar overhead and listen to the messages from spirit that can be heard in the passing breeze and felt through the rays of the sun.

One particular day last summer, I wrote down that which I heard. I don’t always write things down, but on this day I did and I kept it.

Today I feel drawn to sharing it with you. It may make sense or it may not but it is shared with love and a hope that it will be of use to someone, somewhere.

Earth is a school for the soul. Through reincarnation, we have all been here many times before, learning various lessons and evolving. However, to keep us on our toes, to keep stimulating our souls growth and thirst for knowledge and experience- the universe has to keep upping its game. School cannot be made to become too easy. What would be the point? Humanity is currently experiencing its most challenging time yet and we are challenging Mother Earth to grow and adapt too.

Do not panic or worry about humanity, nature and our beloved earth mother. We are all experiencing great changes in the way we are being educated by the universe. Things are due to change here on earth. Eventually it will transform into an entirely different school with new lessons and many of the current class/students will move on to work and study in other cosmic realms, maybe never to return to this planet. This is nothing to be scared of, for it will be an adventure beyond your wildest dreams.

Earth will always be ok, after all she is part of the Divine cosmic source (as are we) which loves and supports us all, but she is going to transform and change (as will we).

Just continue to do your best by all beings. It is hard to ignore the hurt and damage that people cause to each other, to animals and the earth, but remember, they are hurting and confused themselves. They really do not know what they do. They are just doing what they feel they need to do within their consciousness of this time. Help to heal them and you help to heal all.

Do not judge and anger against those in power making unwise decisions or those who make a mockery of your beliefs. Instead send them loving-kindness, show respect. Be a shining example, a beacon of light to wake them up compassionately. Don’t be drawn into mundane, pointless negativity, finger pointing and blaming. Turn your back on fear.

Remember we are all one, all connected. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Never underestimate the power of love. Make time for those who you love and whom light you up and pray for those who don’t. Be grateful for both as they are equally important teachers. Connect to Great Spirit each and every day. Learn to listen to your soul for what it has to say is more important and valuable than anything that you can read, see on the TV OR learn in your human education systems.

May all beings be well, may all beings be free and may all beings be at peace.

 

 

Progress in meditation

 

 

This is one of my favourite quotes regarding meditation and progress in meditation.

“Don’t doubt the value of meditation or underestimate your abilities. Be content with whatever progress you make because it reflects a part of the truth you are seeking. As such, it is something you can rely on”

Mae Chee Kaew

I like this quote very much as I often hear people giving themselves a hard time about whether or not they are making progress in meditation. I think that just showing up for your meditation on a regular basis and maintaining the motivation is great progress. For some people, especially in the beginning, they often find it difficult to keep their meditation practice going and may give up due to their chattering mind along with doubts about if they are “doing it right” and if they will ever be able to do it. I think to be able to get past these first stages of doubt and questioning without giving up is good progress to start with.

For me, the practice of meditation has been a liberating but often challenging journey. My progress over the last 20 years of practising has been gradual, and I am pretty sure will remain on-going. I started meditating at just 15 years old and never really thought about IF I was progressing in meditation, but I did notice that I was progressing in life BECAUSE of meditation. Before I began meditating I was withdrawn and anxious. I couldn’t focus on my school work and my parents and teachers were concerned for my well-being and school grades. Within just a few months of practising meditation twice a day, I became more confident, happier and my memory and ability to focus improved. My exam grades surpassed any of my teacher’s expectations. So this was great progress. At the time I was practising mantra meditation and I found this kept me very focused.

Some years later, I began to practice mindfulness meditation techniques and I found this to be a very different experience. To turn the attention within and observe without the focus of a mantra did not come as easy to me. I persisted and found that as I continued with the mindfulness techniques that I experienced an expanded awareness that allowed me to step back and see things from a different perspective. I began to notice repetitive patterns in my behaviour which were no longer serving me and what situation or way of thinking had caused them in the first place. I was then able to make changes in my behaviour, way of thinking and my lifestyle which enhanced my well-being and happiness. I see this as being progress in meditation.

I have also found that I have made progress in meditation by practising techniques such as loving-kindness meditation and forgiveness meditations. Often in the beginning, I would find it hard to be loving, kind and forgiving towards myself during those meditations. It was always easier to project loving-kindness towards others. However, with continuing practice over time, I have found that I have managed to cultivate loving-kindness towards myself. I am much more accepting and compassionate towards myself in meditation and in general. I feel as I have maintained my meditation practice over the years it has given me the ability to cope with life’s various challenges. Life is still full of up’s and down’s. Some days my meditation experience is full of feelings of bliss and wonder. On other days it might not feel that great at all, but I have learnt to accept the experience as it is without judgment or criticism and I have noticed that this is also becoming how I respond to life in general. I accept whatever is happening in my life without judgment and flow with it. I have found that if I allow life to flow the way I allow my meditation practice to, that it all just works out.

I think progress in meditation is when it moves beyond the meditation cushion into the rest of your daily activities and you are aware of experiencing life as being more enjoyable.