Why Meditate? And how easy is it?

Settling into our True Nature

The Opportunity of Meditation

Meta recently connected with yoga and meditation teacher Yana Chikiris on her thoughts about meditation and how it can support your personal growth.

MYS: What is meditation and why is it important?

YC:  Meditation is simply a way of life. It is to be in the present moment exactly as you are, wherever you are. Rather than trying to escape our experience, regardless of what that may be, meditation allows us to peacefully settle into our true nature and this is why I find meditation to be so important.

MYS: What is your background in meditation?

YC: My background in meditation roots back to my childhood, as we are the most in tune with life when we are young. As I grew older, I became distracted by the everyday hustle and bustle of school, work and social life. I continued the busy life style up until 3 years ago, when I began practicing yoga. I started attending guided meditation classes and became a frequent Kundalini student. These gathering offered various techniques that helped me cultivated awareness. The more I practiced the the more I became conscious of my thoughts, emotions, and actions. All my teachings assisted in building a strong foundation that eventually lead me to the next phase, Yoga Teacher Training at Rishikul Yogshala. While in Nepal, my attention turned to Pranayama, Mantra and Nidra as these practices allowed me to experience longer states of peace. I don’t think I realized at that time, that the aftermath of these practices, is the way of life, or what we call meditation. Today, I continue to have a daily self-practice, only now, what used to seem like work, is second-nature.

MYS: How has meditation effected you and why did you want to offer this to people?

YC:  Meditation has essentially saved my life. It allowed me to accept the person that I am and through acceptance came the real celebration. Meditation brought me back to truth which is simply trusting that everything is as it is supposed to be. Instead of running to find freedom, I discovered that the ultimate freedom exist within. I think that if we truly sit and contemplate what we are searching for, we sooner or later realize that all our exploration is to find peace, happiness and contentment. This is why I genuinely offer meditation classes.

MYS: We often hear people say, "I need to meditate, I just can’t calm my mind." How can this class help?

YC: Practicing meditation techniques is the answer to calming the mind because it helps us find a one-pointed focus through a process called repetition. The reasoning behind a busy mind is simple, we are not disciplined enough to stay completely in the present moment. Our mind is constantly wandering off, reminiscing about the past or day dreaming about the near future. Being in the here and now is the greatest challenge for most people and this class teaches you how to concentrate by simply providing the space for you to practice.

MYS: What is the cost? Why is it by donation?

YC: All ancient traditions that still exist today have simply been passed down from generation to generation, to remind us that which we have forgotten.  These teaching are here to guide us, to help us in times when we become disconnected from our true nature. This is why my meditation classes are offered by donation. Techniques leading to Meditation were not developed for us to monopolize on. No one has “exclusive rights” to the practice of Mediation or Yoga for that matter. We are all privileged to be practicing the teachings that have been passed down to us…they exist today so that we can once again reconnect with our highest selves.

MYS: What can people expect?

YC: My best advice that I can give to anyone interested in taking my class is, don’t expect anything… simply show up; this is where the true practice begins.

MYS: Do they need any experience?

YC: No, you do not need any experience.

MYS: Anything else?

YC: I think there is a misconception that in order to “meditate” we must be sitting in lotus position completely motionless. To meditate, simply means to live moment-to-moment, to be aware of your daily internal and external activities without judgement… that is the true essence of meditation.

You don’t need to be flexible or be able to sit for 30 minutes straight. There is no such thing as I am too old or too young to meditate. The practice is not about becoming someone that you are not and your religion has nothing to do with this practice or is the practice itself a religious act. There is no “final destination” to reach in this practice, nor is it an attempt to become something greater, it is simply about paying attention and recognizing your life experience.

Taya Smythe