It’s simple and it takes 20 minutes… But learning to meditate could release your inner calm | Meditation | Breaking News Updates

It’s simple and it takes 20 minutes… But learning to meditate could release your inner calm | Meditation

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“PPeople talk about stress as something we have to learn to live with, especially anxiety, ”she says. “In fact, we can do something about stress. She thinks we need to change our mindset about what she sees as one of the greatest causes of suffering today. There is no such thing as “good stress,” she says. “People are tired, exhausted and stressed. And they compensate for that with all kinds of behaviors and habits. I want to bring us in a Ordinary state, a balanced state that is healthy.

Lavender is the least guru-like guru you can hope to meet. A Kiwi by birth, she speaks with the pragmatic style of the publishing CEO she was – “Rest is the funding mechanism for everything you do” – before discovering Vedic mediation in Sydney at the end of the twenteeth. In 2008, she founded the London and New York Meditation Center with her American partner, Michael Miller, whom she met during a retreat in India. The couple, now in their 50s, live in Notting Hill with their young daughter. They emit the kind of glow usually reserved for Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s not for nothing that they’ve built a following among exhausted celebrities and stressed-out executives, with fees ranging from £ 400 to (you may need to sit quietly a bit) £ 2,000 depending on salary ; their unwafty approach attracting those who would run a square mile at the whiff of an incense stick.

“There is nothing weird about us. We really love what we do. We’re here to help people, ”Lavender says. “It’s so simple.”

Since the London Meditation Center began, meditation has become mainstream, with subscriptions to apps like Headspace and Calm skyrocketing during the pandemic. Lavender wrote Why meditate? locked out (ironically, she had been too busy teaching people to meditate before). The book is his attempt to right the “neglect” and misconceptions surrounding meditation, to distinguish it from all the buzz around mindfulness. She also wanted to reach a wider audience, “to get the message across wide and far, and to do it in an honest, clear and accessible way.”

As she points out at the outset, this book not teaches you to meditate. It’s a book about the why, not the how – the clue is in the title. As anyone with a shelf full of unread meditation textbooks knows, learning from a book isn’t a start (reading with your eyes closed can be tricky), and the prose style can usually be used for you. fall asleep. We already know a lot of why: Meditation makes us happier, healthier, and more fun to be around – broccoli for the brain. But Lavender follows the science to prove it: during meditation our metabolic rate drops much faster and profoundly than during sleep, cortisol levels drop, serotonin levels rise. My favorite conclusion is that long-term meditators have been shown to have a biological age 12 years younger than their true age.

Most of us spend the day on what she calls “arousal chemistry,” stress hormones, sugar, coffee, and alcohol. “Life is hectic. There is no doubt ”, especially in recent years. In her work, she sees the heaviest burden fall on women, mothers in particular, for whom every day is often a caffeine rush from the school run until the evening when we find ourselves trying. to open a bottle of wine with some Lego. “People recognize that they need a counterweight to all of this.” I’ll drink to that.

This is where Vedic meditation comes in, a mantra-based technique (very similar to transcendental meditation), which Lavender says is nothing less than “an antidote to stress.” “Why is Vedic Meditation so powerful? ” she asks. “Because we become de-aroused so quickly, so effectively, and so deeply, much deeper than during a night’s sleep.” So what’s the catch? You can only learn it from a specially trained teacher, not from a book or app. As she says, you wouldn’t expect to learn to play the piano by watching YouTube videos.

Students in Lavender’s most recent course included a nurse, a mother of three, and a former venture capitalist. People come to mediation for many reasons. “They might not be sleeping, they might want to stop taking the drugs, they might be going through a rough time and everything might be upside down,” she says. “People are in desperate need of change. They are desperate to feel better. And they want to do it in a natural way. Learning is “a truly life changing moment. I don’t say that lightly. I see it in every person I teach.

Jo, a town lawyer and mother of two girls in their mid-30s, learned to meditate with Lavender in 2017. She had recently lost her father and was recovering from breast cancer surgery. “I was completely devastated. It would take me a few hours to get up, get dressed and start functioning properly, ”she says. But when she started to meditate, she felt better almost immediately. “I was able to get up in the morning. It was just amazing. Clara still meditates religiously every day because it makes her feel more in control and “nothing is impossible”. She just sent a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer to a class.

“People think it will be hard work. They say, “I couldn’t sit still,” “I couldn’t silence my mind,” “I don’t have time to meditate,” Lavender says. “You can! If you’re curious and ready to sit down and follow the directions, you can do it!”

Over the years, I have held my breath in yoga studios all over London, sang in a circle of love in Ibiza, and participated in a moonlight meditation in the Austrian Alps (the moon was a no-show ). And I subscribe to so many mindfulness apps that my phone should be on permanent standby. None of them stuck. I always have the level of excitement of a toddler at a birthday party that as we all know only ends in tears.

And so I find myself one late November afternoon in a cold Unitarian church in west London, sitting with my eyes closed with a room full of strangers wearing woolen masks and scarves. The course spans four days over a long weekend, with each session not exceeding two hours. It opens with a brief ceremony which, as Miller informed us in the free introductory keynote on Zoom, “you’ll like it if you like that sort of thing, and is very short if you don’t.” . No one runs for the door. Then we get to work, each of us called individually to an even colder room, to receive our mantra, meaningless sound, our key to Vedic meditation and lasting serenity. We’re so far now, we’re all going back to our seats like children who just met Santa.

As Lavender promises, the instructions are few and far between. One of them is, “Don’t try. As one of life’s pathological con artists, it’s up there with “Don’t Breathe.” And you have to train for 20 minutes twice a day – obviously if someone had 40 minutes to spare, they wouldn’t be here in the first place. But one of Lavender’s goals is to help people find ways to fit meditation into a busy life. If the nurse who works 12 hour shifts has to do it, so should I. We start to meditate.

The first thing to say about Vedic mediation is that you don’t have to stop your thoughts. Purifying my head is a bit like emptying my purse. The stuff that keeps coming back (grainy lip balms, pebbles, headless toys) is messy, unnecessary, and weird. I try not to try. Really hard. I repeat my mantra silently over and over again. I’m not sure I remembered it correctly. A few minutes later, my head starts to move strangely, all on its own, like one of those nodding dogs you see behind car windows. All the knotty pieces of my neck and shoulders magically unravel. it must work! I wonder if the same happens to everyone, if we are all sitting there swinging around like we are listening to music on invisible headphones. I don’t open my eyes. Then, finally, there is a strange sort of calm. Really, really calm – like the feeling of floating before coming out of anesthesia. That works! Damn, the moment bursts like a bubble when you prick it. I leave church feeling lighter, taller, and more rested than I have been in years – joyful even. Later that night a friend says I look good – official confirmation that I have indeed started to glow.

It is still early, but I did not miss a session. My kids are thrilled, not only because I scream less, but because they spend 20 minutes on TV before tea, when I slip away for my afternoon meditation. It has become my secret superpower. That nice feeling of swimming (and the nod of the head) comes faster and I’m getting better at not chasing it. Hopefully the benefits will be incremental and by the time you read this I’ll be on my way to enlightenment – and a little younger, biologically speaking. If you are looking to “improve” – ​​Lavender’s word – your life this year, you might start by doing nothing.

Do Lavender and her partner already have a moment to empty the trash cans, or who has put in the most hours? Lavender hesitates. “No. There is a kind of sweetness,” she admits. “We’ve both been meditating for a long time. Am I not pissed off about some things? Sure. But not in a sticky way. this is why she wants more people to meditate, “Because I know the benefits of this for these people and I know the spreading effect it has on families, in the workplace, on society”, she said, “That’s why I do what I do.”

Why meditate? Because It Works by Jillian Lavender (Yellow Kite Books, £ 14.99) is available at for £ 13.04. London Meditation Center fees start from £ 400 with a free online presentation (

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