After the year we’ve had, we all need some peace and calm in our lives. This is one woman’s meditation journey...
The current times are unique. Many, like myself, feel suspended in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety in our home environment, not to mention our decentralised workplace. I’m not proud to say there have been numerous accounts since the pandemic commenced when I lost my cool with my family over seemingly insignificant incidences. #mumlostit
I didn’t think all this time spent together at home and the fractious homeschooling situation would be a picnic. But also I didn’t think I would find it as challenging as it has been. Finding space and time for self has felt like a distant memory. And it’s little wonder my family and I have been riding emotional ups and downs.
The first step into meditation
I’ve pinpointed the reasons why. For me, it’s finding balance among the perceived chaos, with precious few places to escape and retreat into while having sure-fire tools to keep in control of my emotions. Enter a new online mediation course called Discovery by Australian meditation teacher, Danielle Van de Velde. It provides perspectives, meditation instruction, and (wait for it!) introspective tools for creating shifts from a reactive to a responsive state of being. Surely if I could master just that from the course, then getting through Covid-19 would be a tropical breeze. #hallelujah
Hearing about this course wasn’t a fluke. I first met Danielle in Singapore six years ago and regularly attended her meditation circles and drop-in lodges. It’s easy to get pulled into her spiritual world because she’s just so good at what she does. Put simply, she holds the space for others to let go and explore spiritual realms.
Her classes are sublime and I’ve only ever felt able to achieve a ‘meditative state’ in one of them. So if I’m querying anything prior to signing up, it’s the ability to transmute this offering to an online space and to commit to a daily practice without the pull of a group or scheduled Zoom call.
A little background…
Danielle has been unofficially practising meditation for over 30 years and informally holding circles for 15 years. She is one of those richly layered characters in life you can never quite get enough of. She wears a number of hats, starting with a happily married mum of teenagers, and then gently easing into meditation teacher, healer, shaman, reiki master, spiritual adviser, space-holder, retreat co-founder and writer. No one can say this is a lady sitting idle.
This is a world in which Danielle is an expert. She lives and breathes it, and explains through her own meditation journey at the start of 2020, that she knew she needed to focus on getting her extensive coursework online. The timely release of two useful online meditation offerings, Return and Discovery, are now available to support us during the pandemic and beyond.
Return, Danielle explains, is more suited to beginners. Or those looping on stress, not sleeping, or having high voltage emotions. It offers practical meditations alongside breathwork, which she always teaches with any meditation. I spent a month journeying through the Discovery course daily, and I am whole-heartedly a fan. Each of the five lesson sets comprises audio lessons and guided meditations to enjoy at your own pace.
On the search for inner calm
After completing the course in a linear fashion, I found myself regularly wanting to dip into specific mediations like the Grounding and Nadi Shodhana meditations first thing in the morning. I have discovered they’re the perfect way for me to quickly access a calm yet energised state of being.
There’s science involved, with plenty of instruction for journaling with specific exercises and techniques. Plus, those beautiful meditations where you get to experience someone who is masterful at her craft. Without sounding cliched, the course gave me exactly what I needed when I needed it. I have been responding beautifully to morning and evening meditations best. But I will add that I have committed myself to daily practise simply because I know I need to create this space for myself to gain the results I’m seeking.
Anyone else out there looking for inner calm and peace? The course has also provided me with access to a private online Facebook community and regular reading suggestions around all sorts of juicy meditation-related articles.
During a time when the world has endured all manner of calamity, meditation allowed me a place of my own to retreat and breathe into, to calm and relax, to meditate myself within, creating much-needed internal space (the inner terrain). The changes I’ve felt have been subtle and profound.
I have found myself needing and wanting less coffee, especially after doing the Nadi Shodhana meditation first thing in the morning. I have learned through this practice that it naturally wakes up the whole system through gentle breath-work, clearing both nasal passages and therefore allowing more oxygen to course through my body.
My coffee issue was one of those automated habits I wanted to address before starting the course but didn’t really have a strategy in place to tackle it… until now. Due to less coffee consumption, I have achieved a much better sleep pattern and feel more rested with a mindset that’s positive and not exhausted when I wake up.
I have also found myself able to tilt my programmed reactions from automated responses to responsive ones. There was a conversation I had with my husband when I could actually see my automated response (not necessarily a good one) to one of our usual contentious issues. I saw it, I changed it, and the outcome was different – better! #winning
It’s all part of the meditation journey
Since starting the course, I’ve found myself saying the words, ‘inner terrain’, when I’ve felt any anger or internal flair-ups. As soon as I say that, I know I’ve already broken the circuit from an automatic response to a calmer, responsive one. If this is the tip of the iceberg, I can’t wait to find out where meditation takes me.
“Once you are aware of the patterned response or that triggered behaviour, you’re 80% there in terms of being able to change it. Becoming aware of it is like flooding it with light, and we know that your awareness is more than just a state of being; your awareness is a form of projectable energy which is harmonising and healing,” Danielle says. “The end game is how you live your life and (meditation) is an enabler to choice.”
Some of her top wellness tips include having daily ‘green’ time in nature and moving your body, as well as being aware of your diet (keep it plant-based) and practising gratitude. Oh, and if you’re keen, Danielle shares she will roll out more online meditation courses in 2021!
“2020 has folded us in, isolated us, reminded us of the fragility and impermanence of life,” she explains. “And within this, is an epic kick in the pants… to find meaning, to master our mind/body/spirit complex, and to live fully and well. 2020 has shown us that this life we have, the privilege of living is not a dress rehearsal. This is it! With these shifts in perspective, a new volition is rising in so many. That is to live consciously; to choose how we roll; to live a spirited life.”
If you are new to meditation and don’t know where to start, my advice is to read up on why it is such an invaluable craft. Through my own daily practice, I have seen how meditation works beautifully for the human body and condition, which is no doubt why people have been practising this ancient art for thousands of years.