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.

My definition of meditation

My definition of meditation

Victoria Armstrong

 

This is my understanding of meditation.

A simple definition of meditation would be that to meditate is to turn your attention inward and focus your mind. Meditation cultivates awareness and acceptance, and can aid in our healing, enhancing our well-being.

Each individual can encounter different experiences of meditation depending on what type they choose to practice, how often they practice and also what their motivation to meditate is.

One thing which has surprised some of the people who have attended my classes, is the vast amount of meditation techniques available to us from so many traditions around the world. Many of these people had previously defined meditation as “being mindful” or as breathing exercises to enable relaxation and clarity of mind. It was fascinating for them to discover that there are meditation techniques which can help us to cultivate positive emotions (such as loving-kindness) and ways of healing (for example, forgiveness).

I have never felt that meditation can be defined as a particular technique as there are many various ways which can lead the practitioner into a meditative state. An ancient sage said that all meditation techniques are just different paths up the same mountain. Meditation is an on-going experience- a state of being aware and being present, accepting the experience for exactly how it is on any given day without judgment or criticism.

Meditation gives us an opportunity to observe ourselves, to rest, to heal, re-balance and re-energise. I have also found personally, that practising meditation has been a vital part of my spiritual path. Practising techniques which have focused on connecting to elements of nature, spiritual guides and deities have deepened my understanding of nature and the divine and strengthened my connection to our planet and God/ Goddess.

Although many of my class participants, on asking them to define meditation, would often define it as “being mindful” or “observing the breath”, there have been other definitions. For some, the word meditation conjures the image in the mind of a yogi or Buddhist/ Hindu chanting Om. Some people define meditation as “a thing that spiritual or religious people do”. I have found that for some people who do not deem themselves spiritual or religious that the idea of meditation does not always appeal. However, I would define meditation as a well-being practice that can be of huge benefit to all people regardless of their faith or religion. There is such a wide range of meditation styles which are not affiliated with having a spiritual/ religious belief that I believe an individual can always find one technique that will resonate with them.

I would also define meditation as a positive life-enhancing practice. Meditation enables us to experience relaxation, clarity, stillness and serenity. Through the practice we re-discover these treasures which may have become buried within. When you are able to take your meditative awareness beyond the mat or cushion into the rest of your daily activities, you begin to experience life in a magical way. Being in a flowing state of meditation is living life more fully. Meditation encourages acceptance, healing, alignment, love, wisdom, joy and peace.