A few short years after school, a good friend of mine started teaching a weekly yoga class at a local community center. I started to go to his classes because I knew yoga would help me stretch my body and maintain the mobility of my youth. Over time, I started noticing an added benefit – my level of concentration improved. I started loving yoga because I felt the difference in my life so I went on to become a yoga teacher.
Because I had such a problem being still, I was initially attracted to a moving style of yoga. The kind where you turn the temperature of the room up, and sweat as much as you can. Back then, I told my students that meditation was not crucial to experiencing yoga and that it’s not about being still. (Oh how I wish I could take all that back.)
Around that time, I read an article by Sharon and David (Jivamukti) that said that people often mistake their physical highs for spiritual highs, but that the highs or “connection” they are feeling are just physical, not really spiritual.
At the time I was irate thinking “How dare they!?”
Then, I discovered the truth for myself.
In 2001, I met my teacher, Rod Stryker, at his “Tantra Yoga” retreat. It was there with Rod that I learned to meditate and experienced the benefits of finding stillness.
The change was not immediate, but over a long stretch of time I came to realize that unlike the hot flowing classes where results were immediate, meditation took patience and commitment. Weeks would go by and I would not feel that connection I was longing for.
I remember the first time I truly experienced what I had heard others talk about. I was living on Staten Island and the world had just fallen apart after 9/11. One morning, I was practicing listening to sound and I remember this moment of pure oneness washed over me. In that moment I felt still, serene, perfect, and aware. I tuned out the immediate sounds, and became aware of all the subtle background noise, without being disturbed.
As my yoga practice has deepened and I have meditated more, my level of concentration has not only improved greatly, but I am able to accomplish so much more in life. Leading me to feel more fulfilled than I’ve ever felt before.
I’ve gone from an unfocused child to being able to find the focus and calm even amongst chaos – which happens a lot when you’re the founder of a yoga retreat center in Costa Rica. I remember a few years ago, I led a yoga retreat and in a seven day period we filmed a documentary and shot four yoga videos, all while I led a yoga teacher training. I truly believe that it was the 20 minutes of deep relaxation, 20 minutes of pranayama, and 20 minutes of meditation that helped me find the focus I needed to get through the week.
It was Rumi that said,
“As you live deeper in the heart, the mirror gets cleaner and clearer.”
For me, meditation is a way to clean the window in which I look through life. It allows me to live deeper in the heart. It is there that I am able to see clearly and find that focus I have spent my life searching for.
Finding that place of oneness in mediation is not always an easy journey, but for me (and many others out there) it is worth it.
Meditation clears my mind so that it is no longer preoccupied by all the dirty streaks that prevent me from living the life I want. And that’s how meditation improved my A.D.D.
How has meditation helped you overcome challenges in your life?
By Yogi Aaron
Yogi Aaron, author of “Autobiography of a Naked Yogi”,brings passion and adventure to his teaching. Inspired, he guides students to secret and far-flung locales, empowers them to realize their own limitless potential, and makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide and currently serves as the yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. Follow Yogi Aaron on Facebook.
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