This is an email I received from one of my dearest mentors, Swami Ambikananda, just after I was at one of my lowest points in my life. It was at a time when I had just recovered from ulcerative colitis, I had no income, no job, was trying to build my first business based on my passion for music, and the fear of failure was taking over my mind.
I urge you to read it with an open mind, because it perfectly illustrates what I believe is the best, most holistic approach to mastering your mind, body and soul and freeing yourself from old programming that no longer serves you 🙂
Back in South Africa I was walking with my twins in the wilds, they were skipping and jumping ahead of me.
Suddenly I shouted ‘Stop!’
Being only about 6, they actually did stop dead in their tracks. I had been meditating for about 6 years by then and was able to be aware of what was happening internally: my breath had gone shallow and my heart was racing. But, in truth, I had no idea why nor why I had yelled for them to stop.
They were looking at me questioningly and I was scanning our way ahead. Then I saw, hanging from a tree ahead of us and beautifully camouflaged, a long and deadly green mamba – one of the most venomous snakes Southern Africa has to offer.
Not wanting to frighten them, I told the kids to put their hands into a namaskar and I thanked the snake for letting us see it and by the time I had finished that, the snake has slithered off and we were free to continue.
But I always remembered the incident and was deeply curious about why I had stopped and registered danger long before I consciously ‘saw’ the snake.
Perhaps, if I was of a different mind-set I would have declared it a miracle: a personal God protecting me and mine. But I believe God’s miracles are all already in place within us and around us and I remained curious.
Quite recently I discovered the answer: the amygdale, a bit of the limbic system deep in the brain (God had put her/his miracle in place). This almond shaped bit of the limbic system is quick on fear and prompts instantaneous survival responses.
Nestling close to the base of the brain it immediately marshalled energy via the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamus, that sent signals through the pituitary, to take action to deal with a threat – and so I stopped and yelled out.
Before the ‘I’ was conscious of the threat, the amygdale had picked up light signals in my visual cortex, ‘seen’ the form of the snake and signalled danger : my ‘consciousness’ had to catch up much later.
How does this relate to you and meditation?
Before we are ‘conscious’ beings we pick up and digest all kinds of signals from our carers and community. Immigrant communities have particular pressures for ‘success’ and how that success is defined. They are not ‘at fault’ in doing so – they are indeed strangers in a strange land and have to adapt their success to the new land.
You imbibed those pressures along with mother’s milk, Nij. You internalised them. When your surroundings signal that you are not meeting those criteria, your amygdala signals danger. But there is no visible danger and you internalise this pressure – right into your bowels.
The only way out is meditation.
In meditation you engage the pre-frontal cortex and it begins to calm the signals of the amygdale (it actually kind of curls around the amygdala). Only proper single focus meditation of the kind taught by Patanjali, does this – nothing else in research has been shown to have this effect.
This is the scientific explanation of the ancient teaching : “Meditation allows us to transcend karma.” Now you are on a see-saw between working towards success and seeing it as your failure. The result is illness and frustration that have become your karma.
You are indeed doing fine: you are working on your life’s love, music, with a good friend and producing beautiful stuff. You are doing what is required to let others enjoy your work and recompense you for it. It may not be an overnight success but all is well.
But deep inside your brain, way beneath the level of your conscious awareness, is the signal that you are a failure because you didn’t become the doctor or the banker and this signal is telling you you are in danger.
And neither are you aware of the cascades of electrical signals and chemicals this creates through your body. You may know of them from your study, but you are not aware of them in your own body.
It is time to do proper meditation. It is the only way to restore us to the life we should be living – and only in that life can we find our freedom.
I hope this helps.
Love and peace,
What is your view of meditation? Do you have any extraordinary experiences to share, similar to Swami Ambikananda’s?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Using Trypnaural and the techniques you find inside the members area, you can learn to keep a single focus while meditating.