I attended a free meditation course with Sriman Japadas at the Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga – I did not expect this
To make things clear, I’m the furthest thing from a yogi as one can get. I thrive on distraction and Netflix, and I’ve never remotely felt the need to sit in a quiet room and build a connection with my body and soul. Yet, for this month’s theme of Live Better, I decided to plunge head-first into the unchartered waters of meditation.
I may also have not-so-wisely chugged down a latte shortly before paying a visit to the Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga (SSMY), in a misguided attempt to get into peak concentration mode. But I played it cool, and before I knew it, I was led to the meditation room, a tranquil space with floor cushions and dim Fincher-esque lighting. And down the rabbit hole I went.
Level 1: Mantras 101
Any kind of meditation session isn’t complete without chanting, which was what kicked off my one-on-one meditation crash course with Sriman Japadas, founder of SSMY and a long-time practitioner of the art. Sitting cross-legged on a comfy floor cushion, I braced myself and finally accepted my fate – caffeine jitters be damned. Luckily, Sriman spoke with a reverence borne from decades of deep meditation, and he put me at ease by explaining that chanting – or more specifically, its combination of sound, breath and rhythm – helps to rejuvenate the flow of energy in your body and keeps those pesky negative emotions at bay. He then handed out cards that spelt out mantras we were to chant, before leading me through some deep breathing exercises – beginner friendly!
Level 2: Chanting – now with beads!
This is where things kicked up a notch. Sriman gave me a string of beads, which he explained were used to facilitate a more focused and effective meditation session. I was to use my thumb to pull each bead toward me, recite a mantra and repeat – all 108 beads – as the repetition was a way to truly focus on the mantra. Needless to say, the chanting and beads failed to lull me into any kind of calm, meditative state, and all I could think about was my slippery thumb and how fast (or slow, if we’re being totally honest) I was going.
Level 3: Chant-singing
Before I thought it could get any more mortifying (have I mentioned I’m an introvert?), Sriman whipped out a guitar, which only meant one terrifying thing – singing, or traditionally known as kirtan. He explained that singing soothes the mind and opens one’s heart to positive energy. Spoiler alert: I’m terrible at it. On the brightside, I was meant to sing the chants I’d repeated earlier so, really, I should’ve gotten the hang of it by then (I didn’t). He strummed a few chords and belted mantras like an angel, and I stammered along in a way that didn’t sound too incoherent. Clapping was also involved.
Sriman ended the session by reminding me that this was just the lite (wimp) version of his Mantra and Kirtan meditation classes. These classes usually stretch to an hour and things can get intense. These meditation classes are usually held on Monday and are taught for free to yogis – or anyone really – who want more bang for their buck in their yoga journey, or to those who wish to get in touch with their spiritual side, reduce a bucketload of stress, and build a stronger connection with their mind and body – and that’s just scratching the surface of its countless benefits. Namaste! Or so they say.
Singapore School of Meditation & Yoga, #04-13 Regency House, 123 Penang Road Road, Singapore 238465. p. 6493 2967.