The secret of deeper meditation from a Buddhist Lama

I was fortunate enough recently to spend some time in the company of the Venerable Lama Ngedon Drime. Lama Drime, or Saddhu as he likes to be called, describes himself as a ‘kick-ass monk’.

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Mar 30, 2016
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It's fair to say that, in his teachings, Saddhu strips away all the ‘bells and smells’ of popular meditative practice and takes it back to the bare essentials, which boil down to one important feature; you in the presence of your mind.

Saddhu has spent the last 38 years of his life in pursuit of spiritual development through the Buddhist and Zen traditions. When someone has such focus and devotion, their words have gravitational pull. They mean something.

And when they speak, you listen.

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Don’t just do something, sit there

As a psychotherapist and coach, mindfulness is something I regularly train people to do and I thought I knew about meditation, but Saddhu taught me a surprisingly simple exercise based in the yoga nidra tradition which intensely deepened the experience and which I found really powerful. Although not designed to help you fall asleep, it certainly would have that effect if you did not consciously set your intention to stay awake.

In fact yoga nidra is often referred to as ‘yogic sleep’ and is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping; a state I access when guiding my clients in visualisation; a state in which the body is completely relaxed, as the practitioner becomes increasingly aware of their inner world by following a set of simple instructions.

This state of consciousness is different to mindfulness meditation where concentration on a single focus is required. In yoga nidra the practitioner systematically withdraws attention, closing down the senses, apart from hearing, which connects to the heard instructions.

The practice is also called ‘lucid sleep’ and is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. Not surprisingly, it has been found to be really helpful in reducing tension and anxiety if practiced regularly.

Nailing jelly to a wall

In the spirit of ‘if every man would mend a man', I will now pass this technique on to you. You, in turn, may wish to pass it on to others.

People often ask what deep meditation feels like. Like the proverbial jelly you try to nail to the wall, the concept seems ethereal and a bit spooky to many. And when you grasp too hard at the shadows, you begin to lose the substance, because the description can never be the thing itself.

Like mindfulness, it is something you need to experience rather than study. ‘Power of Now’ author, Meister Eckhart Tolle, describes it as ‘settling the mind to awaken the self.

He says ‘When there is a conscious choice to remove attention from thinking, you dis-identify from your thoughts, and there is a form of awakening. You observe yourself.’

It’s fair to say, it’s an increasingly frenetic world. Research shows that, as a species, we are genuinely speeding up. We breathe faster, talk faster and even walk faster. As an antidote, there is more need now than ever, to be able to step away from ‘doing’ into just ‘being’, to achieve the calm, clarity and peace everyone seems to crave and which some of us pursue in ways that are harmful to the self. If you want to slow down, yoga nidra can really help.

Yoga nidra: the practice

This exercise is best practised sitting in an upright chair such as a dining chair, with palms placed downwards on your knees. It is best not to do this practice lying down as it is so relaxing, you really do tend to fall asleep.

To avoid nodding off, right at the start it's useful to repeat the resolution three times ‘I am practising yoga nidra. I am fully awake.’

Begin

You begin by becoming aware of your body sitting in the chair; notice where contact is made between your body and the chair; the seat, upper legs, the feet on the floor, the hands on the knees. Scan throughout the body.

Now you begin to imagine yourself breathing in and out through various body parts. One in and out breathe per body part, moving steadily around the body.

Breathe in and out through:

The thumb of the right hand, the forefinger of the right-hand, the middle finger, ring finger and little finger of the right-hand.

The right forearm, the right elbow, the right upper arm, the right shoulder, the right side of the chest, the right side of the abdomen, the right side of the hips, the right upper back, the right knee, the right lower leg.

Breathe in and out through the right big toe, the right second toe, third toe, fourth toe and little toe; the whole right foot.

Now repeat for the left-hand side of the body beginning with the thumb of the left-hand and throughout as before.

Then focus on the lower spine, the mid spine and upper spine.

Breathe in and out through the right nostril, left nostril, right ear, left ear, right eye, left eye, crown of the head.

Repeat to yourself, as and when necessary, ‘I am practising yoga nidra and I am fully awake.’

To finish the practice, clench your fists and extend your fingers forward three times. Stretch your legs out, clench and release the toes three times and fully open your eyes.


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Frances A Masters

Psychotherapist, Coach, Writer. Live your best life.

Do you want to be happier and more resilient? Some people seem to just 'bounce back' no matter what life throws at them. We can't choose many of life's events but we certainly do have a choice about how we respond. My passion for mental health began 25 years ago when I suffered postnatal depression and realised the help I needed simply wasn't there. The pills didn't work. In fact they made things worse. What I really needed was to understand how anxiety, depression and emotional ill health can develop. I needed to learn good 'mind management' skills which would act like a 'psychological inoculation' against future problems. When I recovered, I made a decision to find out how and why I had become so depressed and made a personal pledge to do something to provide the kind of help for others which I had needed. I wanted to prevent people suffering unnecessarily. So I embarked on a personal and professional journey and, along the way, developed a brand new approach to health and well-being. My journey began with four years of traditional counselling training, followed by a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapy. I studied cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy, coaching and cognitive neuroscience. I built up 30,000 hours professional experience which I brought together into the new happiness and resilience programme l named 'Fusion.' I also wrote a book about how to resolve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), founded a therapeutic coaching charity and trained volunteers to work in this new way. This training programme would later become the nationally accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Certificate. Now... The journey continues. Now I want to reveal all my professional secrets about good mind management to as many people as possible through social media and by training Fusion Breakthrough trainers from all over the world. One of them could be you... Something new.. Something different.. Something which lasts.. What if you could experience one day which could actually change your life for good; giving you your own eureka moment; not only helping you create a vision of the life you want to live, but actually give you the real skills to get there and stay there? Fusion is a tried and tested system which combines the best of psychotherapy and coaching into a powerful new formula for lasting change. My aim is to help and empower as many people as possible to feel their best, be their best and live their best lives. Perhaps I could help you too....

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