Nowadays, visualisation and mindfulness meditation are not uncommon terms. Even kids have heard of meditation and they know to sit and close eyes with index finger and thumb pressed together. They are both important tools and highly effective if practiced with discipline. Here at Apneista in Amed, Bali, our yoga teacher training program includes learning about methods to discipline our minds through both meditation and visualisation.
Though they two are not synonyms, visualisation and mindfulness meditation are both effective mind training. There are hundreds of different meditation styles and visualisation is just one of them along with affirmations, mantras and chanting.
I used to teach yoga to a group of artists and every time we sat down to meditate, at least one or two students would open up to me after class, rather embarrassed, saying “every time I sit down, I try to clear my mind but all these great ideas would just pop up in my head and I feel such a strong urge to write them all down…”
And that is precisely what can happen if we get confused in various methods of meditation. A tsunami wave of great and not so great ideas, thoughts, emotions rushing into our mind all at the same time. Visualization is an extension of imagination. If we do not cultivate an ability or discipline to steer and clear those waves of thoughts, even the most effective visualization can be just a cover up for another thought and it would only create agitation, anxiety and more destructive, unproductive thoughts that would hinder your performance (if it is being used for freediving) or your well-being.
The reason great ideas just seem to pop up one after another when we sit down to meditate is because we are constant talking machines to ourselves. We have about 50,000 thoughts a day. We rarely sit down, and just BE to watch our breath. And so when we do sit down to meditate, our minds see a little gap of silence and all of a sudden, we can see things very clearly, kind of like that Limitless
pill Bradley Cooper took. Well, not that dramatic but slowly, we have more gaps and pockets of real presence that allows our visualisation to become more precise and effective.
So set aside a time to create a discipline and a habit of sitting down with one pointed awareness. Notice your thought, place your mind on your breath. Best idea ever? Go back to the breath again. Then take a separate time for visualisation. Over time and practice, you will find your visualisation to be much more effective. In future, we will be looking at more visualisation and mindfulness meditation techniques suitable for yoga practitioners and freedivers.
The following blog is about practice and the importance of showing up.
I have told this story so many times in yoga teacher training programs, workshops and certainly in a class. Every time someone is late for my class, it reminds me.
I started yoga in an attempt to make friends. I had just moved from Japan to Canada and knew no one. I wanted to fit in. My very new friend talked about going to a yoga class and so I followed her. Eventually, I started going on my own. I really was there for savasana. I was constantly broke and exhausted from working full time and having school full time in order to pay off my already astronomical college tuition fee at an international student rate, which was double the amount Canadian citizens paid at the time. So I was always late for yoga classes. Not just 5 min but about 20min. It’s not something I am proud of and now when I retell this story, people who knew this teacher all say “I can’t believe he let you in the class.”
Perhaps he should have talked to me. Perhaps he should have given me that talk, the “yoga etiquette” talk. But I was too young and absorbed in my own little ego, I am not sure if I would have continued on.
So I just showed up week after week. I can’t remember what he taught about postures or philosophy but I do remember that savasana. It was the peace I had never felt before and sometimes I quietly cried through it. I was not sad. I just suddenly started to “feel” everything.
Many years have passed since then and I have no idea where this teacher is now or what he does. But I am forever thankful for I would not be the same had he not let me come to his classes.
So now, my wish for any yoga students is that they simply show up. “Yoga etiquette” does exist and you can learn them anytime but first, I’d like everyone to forget all that and just show up because it’s the only thing that really matters.