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Is Meditation Enough to Cultivate Inner Peace?

Is meditation enough to find real peace? Vidyamala shares some some important lessons.

Hi, it's Vidyamala here. And I've been asked to answer the question, is meditation enough to cultivate inner peace? I think this is such a great question. And one that I've pondered on for many, many years. I first learned to meditate way back in 1985. And for many years, I did assume that meditation on its own would be enough to cultivate inner peace.

After all, the great wisdom traditions say that everything is preceded by mind and led by mind and that the quality of our mind is the most important thing if we want to experience inner peace. Now that is true, I certainly agree with that, but what I've come to see is that I need to look at the quality of my mind in my whole life, not just when I meditate. What I used to do actually for about 10 years, I'm rather ashamed to say, is I'd have my meditation in the morning, maybe 20 minutes, 40 minutes an hour even. And I've finished my meditation with the intention, today's the day when I'm going to manage my activities, I'm not going to get stressed, I'm not going to get distracted, I'm going to do one thing at a time. I'm going to be Mrs.

Chill. And then usually within about, oh gosh, half an hour, an hour, I'd just be scatty doing lots of things at once, pushing myself, driving myself and essentially losing the plot. I'd get to the end of the day, exhausted, flopped on my bed thinking, Oh no, I've blown it again. Nevermind. Tomorrow's another day.

Tomorrow I'm going to manage to be mindful through my whole day. And then of course, the next day I would do exactly the same thing. So day after day, I'd have all these good intentions and day after day, I'd blow it. And I couldn't really get away with that because I live with chronic pain following quite severe spinal injuries when I was a teenager. So I've got a disability and I've got pain.

So the cost was pretty high for me. And I eventually realized that although meditation was fantastic and I'm a total devotee to meditation, what I needed to do was actually look at my whole life. How could I take awareness practice off the cushion out of my meditation practice so it perfumes my whole day? And in fact, I intuited that will probably be more transformative than just having a meditation practice each morning. After about 10 years of this kind of meditation, you know, just the morning meditation and then blowing it during the day, I had a bit of a crisis. My back got worse.

And I had to really ask myself, what is it that I haven't understood? I've been meditating for 10 years and yet I'm back in another crisis. So clearly I haven't quite got the full message. And what I reflected on is there were two things really. One is that I hadn't figured out how to take my practice into my daily life. And I'll say more about that in a moment.

And the other thing is I realized that in my meditation, I'd got quite good at being escapist. So rather than being with my experience and transforming my relationship to my actual experience, I was using my meditation to avoid my experience. By fantasizing, even daydreaming, that kind of thing. My meditation had been effective, but there'd always been a kind of tension around it. And once I really faced up to that, I thought, well, no wonder, because I'm putting all this effort into avoiding my direct experience rather than learning how to be with it with tenderness and kindness and care.

So I decided to really, uh, take these two areas on as it were. I started changing the way I meditated. So rather than using it to escape and to avoid, I started using it to come closer to what's actually happening. I became much more embodied, much more in my breathing. All my teaching now is based on what I learned by moving away from escapism and moving into, I suppose what you call, a much more strength-based practice.

Learning how to be with my experience, with courage, with fearlessness, with love. And then as I said, the other thing was, uh, looking at my daily life behavior. One of the things I had to face up to is that I had a tendency to live in, what's called, the boom and bust patterns. And what that means is when you feel good, you do loads of things. You really go for it.

You do all the housework, you do all your emails, you go shopping. You know, really sort of, think, right. I feel good today, I'm going to do as much as I can. And then of course you have a crash. And the technical term for that is bust.

It's quite interesting. In, uh, pain management circles, fatigue circles, longterm health condition circles, they do actually call it boom and bust because it's very descriptive. And in all people that I've taught, it seems that many of us live with boom and bust, whether were, um, living with a health condition or just living in a normal, busy life. So, what happens is you might have moments of inner peace, but essentially you're just like a hamster in a wheel, going round and round and round, booming and then crushing, booming and then crushing. And really it's pretty unsatisfactory way to live, pretty horrible way to live.

So what I developed was something called pacing. And that was learning to bring much more balance to my daily activities. Yes, the meditation was really, really important for refining my awareness, for finding my mind, training my mind, but then I had to bring in much more clarity in terms of my behaviors during the day. So for example, now, if I'm working on the computer, I'll use a timer. After 25 minutes, timer will go off, I'll have a break.

That's how I'm approaching doing these recordings this week, I'm taking regular breaks. I also learned that I had to kind of operate across a broad front in terms of transformation. And that meant looking at my diet, making sure that I eat as healthfully as I can. And that doesn't mean any special diet necessarily, but just having three meals a day. Keeping myself well nourished.

I had to look at exercise. Making sure that I was keeping my body as fit as possible, as flexible as possible and as strong as possible. Because of my disability, you know, I'm not running marathons or anything like that, but doing what I can to work with what I've got in terms of my mobility and fitness. And that's also been very important. I've had to look at my attitudes towards sleep.

Developing sleep hygiene, which means going to bed at roughly the same time every day, turning off digital devices a good period of time before you go to bed, not having the computer in the bedroom. You know, some of these basic things that are now pretty much common knowledge. That's important because sleep is so precious and many of us have got quite poor habits of sleep hygiene. That meant attending to the quality of my friendships and relationships. Making sure that I value those and I prioritize those.

We're social creatures and we're designed for connection. So that's another aspect of wellbeing. And of course, all of these areas are underpinned by awareness. It's pretty much impossible to really work on your behavior and daily life if you're not aware. So I see it as, as awareness is like the keystone of the great building or the great cathedral of lifestyle change.

And then there's healthy eating, exercise, relationships, and sleep. Dr. Dean Ornish, who's quite a famous doctor in mind-body medicine. He says it very simply, "Eat well, love more, stress less, move more." That's so good, isn't it? Eat well, love more, stress less, move more. And I think if we are really serious about cultivating inner peace as a moment by moment experience, a moment by moment taste of something that's more open, maybe a little bit softer around the edges, less jagged, a little bit more present, then meditation is absolutely essential because it's our awareness training, but then we need to look at our whole life.

Eat well, love more, stress less, move more, and also pace. And I would recommend that you consider using a timer to break up your activities. So thanks so much for listening to this talk today and being alongside me as we all try to figure out how to be fully human, how to have more inner peace. And I really hope that you've found these tips helpful and relevant to your own life and know that I'm walking beside you. I'm bringing all these tips into my own life and I really hope that you will feel motivated to do the same in your life and that you will indeed taste a few more moments of inner peace.

So I really wish you all the very, very best.

Talk

4.8

Is Meditation Enough to Cultivate Inner Peace?

Is meditation enough to find real peace? Vidyamala shares some some important lessons.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, it's Vidyamala here. And I've been asked to answer the question, is meditation enough to cultivate inner peace? I think this is such a great question. And one that I've pondered on for many, many years. I first learned to meditate way back in 1985. And for many years, I did assume that meditation on its own would be enough to cultivate inner peace.

After all, the great wisdom traditions say that everything is preceded by mind and led by mind and that the quality of our mind is the most important thing if we want to experience inner peace. Now that is true, I certainly agree with that, but what I've come to see is that I need to look at the quality of my mind in my whole life, not just when I meditate. What I used to do actually for about 10 years, I'm rather ashamed to say, is I'd have my meditation in the morning, maybe 20 minutes, 40 minutes an hour even. And I've finished my meditation with the intention, today's the day when I'm going to manage my activities, I'm not going to get stressed, I'm not going to get distracted, I'm going to do one thing at a time. I'm going to be Mrs.

Chill. And then usually within about, oh gosh, half an hour, an hour, I'd just be scatty doing lots of things at once, pushing myself, driving myself and essentially losing the plot. I'd get to the end of the day, exhausted, flopped on my bed thinking, Oh no, I've blown it again. Nevermind. Tomorrow's another day.

Tomorrow I'm going to manage to be mindful through my whole day. And then of course, the next day I would do exactly the same thing. So day after day, I'd have all these good intentions and day after day, I'd blow it. And I couldn't really get away with that because I live with chronic pain following quite severe spinal injuries when I was a teenager. So I've got a disability and I've got pain.

So the cost was pretty high for me. And I eventually realized that although meditation was fantastic and I'm a total devotee to meditation, what I needed to do was actually look at my whole life. How could I take awareness practice off the cushion out of my meditation practice so it perfumes my whole day? And in fact, I intuited that will probably be more transformative than just having a meditation practice each morning. After about 10 years of this kind of meditation, you know, just the morning meditation and then blowing it during the day, I had a bit of a crisis. My back got worse.

And I had to really ask myself, what is it that I haven't understood? I've been meditating for 10 years and yet I'm back in another crisis. So clearly I haven't quite got the full message. And what I reflected on is there were two things really. One is that I hadn't figured out how to take my practice into my daily life. And I'll say more about that in a moment.

And the other thing is I realized that in my meditation, I'd got quite good at being escapist. So rather than being with my experience and transforming my relationship to my actual experience, I was using my meditation to avoid my experience. By fantasizing, even daydreaming, that kind of thing. My meditation had been effective, but there'd always been a kind of tension around it. And once I really faced up to that, I thought, well, no wonder, because I'm putting all this effort into avoiding my direct experience rather than learning how to be with it with tenderness and kindness and care.

So I decided to really, uh, take these two areas on as it were. I started changing the way I meditated. So rather than using it to escape and to avoid, I started using it to come closer to what's actually happening. I became much more embodied, much more in my breathing. All my teaching now is based on what I learned by moving away from escapism and moving into, I suppose what you call, a much more strength-based practice.

Learning how to be with my experience, with courage, with fearlessness, with love. And then as I said, the other thing was, uh, looking at my daily life behavior. One of the things I had to face up to is that I had a tendency to live in, what's called, the boom and bust patterns. And what that means is when you feel good, you do loads of things. You really go for it.

You do all the housework, you do all your emails, you go shopping. You know, really sort of, think, right. I feel good today, I'm going to do as much as I can. And then of course you have a crash. And the technical term for that is bust.

It's quite interesting. In, uh, pain management circles, fatigue circles, longterm health condition circles, they do actually call it boom and bust because it's very descriptive. And in all people that I've taught, it seems that many of us live with boom and bust, whether were, um, living with a health condition or just living in a normal, busy life. So, what happens is you might have moments of inner peace, but essentially you're just like a hamster in a wheel, going round and round and round, booming and then crushing, booming and then crushing. And really it's pretty unsatisfactory way to live, pretty horrible way to live.

So what I developed was something called pacing. And that was learning to bring much more balance to my daily activities. Yes, the meditation was really, really important for refining my awareness, for finding my mind, training my mind, but then I had to bring in much more clarity in terms of my behaviors during the day. So for example, now, if I'm working on the computer, I'll use a timer. After 25 minutes, timer will go off, I'll have a break.

That's how I'm approaching doing these recordings this week, I'm taking regular breaks. I also learned that I had to kind of operate across a broad front in terms of transformation. And that meant looking at my diet, making sure that I eat as healthfully as I can. And that doesn't mean any special diet necessarily, but just having three meals a day. Keeping myself well nourished.

I had to look at exercise. Making sure that I was keeping my body as fit as possible, as flexible as possible and as strong as possible. Because of my disability, you know, I'm not running marathons or anything like that, but doing what I can to work with what I've got in terms of my mobility and fitness. And that's also been very important. I've had to look at my attitudes towards sleep.

Developing sleep hygiene, which means going to bed at roughly the same time every day, turning off digital devices a good period of time before you go to bed, not having the computer in the bedroom. You know, some of these basic things that are now pretty much common knowledge. That's important because sleep is so precious and many of us have got quite poor habits of sleep hygiene. That meant attending to the quality of my friendships and relationships. Making sure that I value those and I prioritize those.

We're social creatures and we're designed for connection. So that's another aspect of wellbeing. And of course, all of these areas are underpinned by awareness. It's pretty much impossible to really work on your behavior and daily life if you're not aware. So I see it as, as awareness is like the keystone of the great building or the great cathedral of lifestyle change.

And then there's healthy eating, exercise, relationships, and sleep. Dr. Dean Ornish, who's quite a famous doctor in mind-body medicine. He says it very simply, "Eat well, love more, stress less, move more." That's so good, isn't it? Eat well, love more, stress less, move more. And I think if we are really serious about cultivating inner peace as a moment by moment experience, a moment by moment taste of something that's more open, maybe a little bit softer around the edges, less jagged, a little bit more present, then meditation is absolutely essential because it's our awareness training, but then we need to look at our whole life.

Eat well, love more, stress less, move more, and also pace. And I would recommend that you consider using a timer to break up your activities. So thanks so much for listening to this talk today and being alongside me as we all try to figure out how to be fully human, how to have more inner peace. And I really hope that you've found these tips helpful and relevant to your own life and know that I'm walking beside you. I'm bringing all these tips into my own life and I really hope that you will feel motivated to do the same in your life and that you will indeed taste a few more moments of inner peace.

So I really wish you all the very, very best.

Talk

4.8

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