From a young child, we are exposed to information on how to behave and who we should be. By the time we reach adulthood, we are far from our true selves and would barely recognise the person that we once were.
In 1955, a large Buddha statue was being transported to its new home in the Viharn building. During the process, the pulley robes gave way and the statue plummeted to the ground, breaking part of the clay. To people’s amazement, the break revealed a gold surface underneath the outer layer. Once the plaster was removed, it revealed the largest solid gold statue in the world, weighing 5.5 tonnes. It’s believed that that statue was covered up around 200 years before the destruction of Ayutthaya kingdom in 1767 to sit in plain sight and not attract too much attention. The plan certainly worked, as nobody suspected a thing until the statue was dropped in 1995.
This story is similar to what happens when we grow up. The plaster of the statue represents the information on who we should be, and the gold statue represents our true self, or who we are on the inside. Every time we get hurt or fail at something, we add another layer of plaster and shrink the gold. To become our true self, we need to reverse this process. Thankfully, we can do this by putting on our yoga pants and hitting the mat. This simple meditation will help you get in touch with your true self.
To practice the meditation, sit in an upright position and make yourself comfortable. Start by becoming aware of your breath and focussing on how it feels to breathe in and to breathe out. After 30 seconds, take a deep breath and let the air out slowly. Repeat this process a few times. Next, become aware of any passing sounds. Do the same with any thoughts or feelings, let them come and go without analysing them. If your mind begins to wander, bring your focus back to your breathing. After 5 minutes, recognise that you are still the person in your mind but move your awareness to your heart. Recognise the small light in your heart that is left over from when you were a child. This light is filled with all the love, confidence, freedom, courage and compassion that you once had. Take a minute to recognise that this light is your true self. With each exhale, visualise the glowing light growing a little more. Every time we breathe, the light will become brighter and fill more of the body. Continue with the process until, eventually, every part of your body is filled with light and you become your true self. When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes.
By practising this twice a day, you will begin to break away the plaster that you’ve built up over the years. You’ll eventually feel confident about who you really are, and not what the world has made you. If you’ve got the time, practice for at least 15 minutes each time. However, any time is better than none, so if you can only practice for 5 minutes one day, don’t panic.
If you don’t feel comfortable with breathing meditation, there are some other techniques you can try. Providing that you visualise the growing light, the practice will be just as effective whether you choose breathing meditation like above or one of the alternative techniques below.
Mindfulness Meditation is another popular meditation technique. Focussing on the sensations within your body, this technique allows you to concentrate on the now. To practice Mindfulness Mediation, start by concentrating on your breathing. After a few minutes, notice other sensations within the body; for instance, observe any tension and tingling within the muscles. When using this technique, it’s important not to analyse the sensations. Instead, try to be a neutral observer. Allow the sensations to pass through your mind without becoming hung up on them. Once you feel content, start to visualise the growing light as explained above.
If you hate sitting still, Walking Meditation may work best for you. While this can be practised anywhere, a garden or local park is ideal. To practice Walking Meditation, stroll through an aesthetically pleasing environment. As you walk, focus on how your body moves. Take note of how your arms swing as you walk and how your legs lift and extend. As with all types of meditation, beginners may find their mind wandering. If this is the case, gently bring your focus back to the movement. When you feel ready, visualise the growing light as explained above.
Mantra Meditation is another great technique. Commonly, the Sanskrit word ‘Om’ is used as a mantra. However, any meaningful word or phrase can be used in this technique. By repeating a certain word or phrase you can focus the mind. To practice Mantra Meditation, find a quiet space and sit comfortably. Slowly repeat your chosen word or phrase aloud or silently. Try to focus solely on the Mantra instead of the world around you. When you’re ready, visualise the growing light as explained above.
The final technique is Empty Mind Meditation. This technique can lead to an altered state of consciousness without any specific focus. To practice Empty Mind Meditation, begin by sitting quietly with your eyes closed. Once you’re comfortable, allow your thoughts to float freely. As they flow in and out of your mind, notice them without attachment or judgement. When you’re ready, visualise the growing light as explained above.
If you want to connect with the real you, put on a comfy yoga top and follow the technique above. This simple meditation will help you get in touch with your true self.