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Embracing Stillness: My Path to Self-Reflection through Meditation

Sketch of a man meditating AI generated image
Credit- Dall-E for AI Image generation

I was staying alone at NITIE, Mumbai after getting married for a couple of years and our first daughter was one year old. After completing my MBA, I had opted to stay in academics and earn a PhD in finance. Maybe go to US to for PhD. At NITIE, I lived alone as I had no earning to support my family. I stayed at the first floor of a married hostel - this hostel was away from the main campus area surrounded by the houses occupied by the families of professors and other staff of the institute. Most of the times, I was alone with no one to talk to.

My only friend Debraj takes me for a walk to visit Chinmaya Mandir near our college. I get to see some books on display in the only shop at the temple. The book I picked was a thin one on meditation. I may have gifted that book as I cannot see it anywhere amongst the books in the shelf at home. The book outlined step by step process to practice meditation. I read the first step, and repeated the same step for 5 days as suggested in the book. I could do it for 5-10 minutes max and most of the times my eyes opened involuntarily as the sound of voices in my mind echoed louder and louder.

The first step was about sitting in cross legged posture, keeping back and head straight and stable. Avoid any movement of the body except the slight shiver while inhaling and exhaling. On some occasions- I did the same routine almost 3-4 times in a day- I was successful in maintaining the steadiness of my body but the thoughts continued to linger.

I felt the lure to continue practicing and I moved to second step. In this step, I had to visualise a simple mantra- I tried Om! and Satnam Waheguru at different times- playing in the forehead moving as a ticker from left to right and mind reading each letter silently. First few occasions the chatter of mind was replaced with the mantra and my body anyways stayed stable. But soon, my mind could run the mantra and return to chattering. Whenever, my drifted, I felt upset and tried to focus on the mantra alone. The book says to read the mantra loudly in your mind so that the effort of reading aloud in the mind takes too much effort from the mind to think of anything else. I could do this and was happy with the results.

In the next steps, the book asked to now consider the mind and body as two separate entities busy with their tasks - Body not to move at all and mind to keep reciting the mantra louder and louder. And see myself as a soul that is able to see both my mind and body separate sitting opposite and facing each other. Then my should drifts into a world where there are bells ringing at a temple, a river flows, sunset time and me sitting under a tree listening to all of this. Occasionally I return to my mind and body and ensure they do not stop doing the task assigned to them.

When I did this meditation for a month or so maybe more than 70-80 times, I felt traveling to a new world and having a different experience. I felt happy and content. In those two years, meditation was one of the activities to keep myself entertained purposefully. However, as routine work life started and family rejoined, I missed out on meditating for almost a decade. I restarted and again stopped. But now for now last year or so I am meditating but using a different technique. At times, I listen to guided sleep meditation videos or the ones that help me visualise meeting my spirit guides.

I will share my experience with the other styles of meditation in later posts.

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