How Vedic meditation can be as easy as watching Netflix
There’s no need to silence a busy mind to enjoy the benefits of Vedic meditation, so what exactly is it and why is it making a resurgence?
Intrigued by the healing powers of meditation – but struggling to wrestle your intrusive thoughts into submission?
Here’s some good news – you don’t have to.
An age-old practice called Vedic meditation is undergoing a resurgence, and best of all, you don’t need to silence your busy mind.
It can be practised in bed, on your sofa or on the plane or even curled into your best Netflix position, to beat stress, anxiety and improve sleep.
Just ask former Western Bulldogs great Luke Darcy, and co-host of The House of Wellness TV show.
What began as a leftfield idea at the footy club turned into a 20-year discipline that he has since passed on to his wife and four children.
“It was pretty unique for an AFL club in the ’90s to introduce meditation but I worked out quickly that it was helping my recovery, my sleep and sense of clarity,” he recalls.
“As soon as I stopped playing football, I stopped meditating.
“But it didn’t take long for my wife to say to me, ‘You’ve become an absolute nightmare … how about you start that again?’.”
“I didn’t realise until then how beneficial it was to other areas of my life – and what a gift it was.”
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What is Vedic meditation?
Harking from the same tradition as transcendental meditation, Vedic meditation has been practised for more than 5000 years with origins in ancient India.
London Meditation Centre co-founder Jillian Lavender says it involves repeating a meaningless sound called a mantra, practised in a supported seating position, and is designed to be effortless and natural.
“You simply sit in a chair with your eyes closed for about 20 minutes in the morning and again in the early evening,” Jillian says.
“The mantra quiets the mind and takes you to a settled state.
“As your mind settles, your body begins to rest more deeply than sleep.”
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How is it Vedic meditation different from other forms of meditation?
Leave your preconceptions of meditation at the door.
In Vedic meditation, there’s no straight-backed devotees folded into lotus positions in rice paddy fields, no rhythmic chanting, no focusing on the breath.
Instead, you are encouraged to find a comfortable position with your back supported and focus on the mantra allocated by your instructor.
“Vedic meditation doesn’t involve any concentration or effort to try and silence the mind,” says Why Meditate? Because it Works author, Jillian.
“Rather than setting up a battle with the mind, we work with the nature of the mind – the mantra leads the mind into quieter, deeper levels automatically and easily.
“Correct meditation has nothing to do with concentration or control of the mind.
“With the right instruction, it’s possible for everyone to effortlessly settle down their mind and soak up the more blissful, inner layers of consciousness.”
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What are the benefits of Vedic meditation?
The health benefits of transcendental meditation are extolled in hundreds of academic studies, and range from reduced levels of stress, anxiety and even risk of heart disease, to improved sleep and greater mental clarity.
“It’s an experience that allows your body to release stress and relax more deeply, which boosts your health in so many ways,” says Sydney-based meditation coach Rory Kinsella.
“People find they have more energy and can cope better with what life throws at them.
“It can also result in reduced blood pressure, rates of depression and even help fight substance abuse.”
Luke’s tips for getting started
Most importantly, don’t feel pressured to master this form of meditation, Luke says, as it may only leave you feeling more stressed.
Start slowly and sticking to a routine, stopping to practise wherever you are (even if you’ve just pulled into your driveway).
“Begin with something manageable, say five minutes a day, and it might be one of the most profound things you do,” says Luke, who is starting a social venture in schools for students through Aleda Wellbeing.
“Don’t feel like you have to block out all distractions – the doorbell might ring, but it doesn’t matter.
“It’s how I start my day and finish my afternoon. It makes my life more balanced.
“Even our kids have adopted it as they see my wife and I doing it so often at home.”
Written by Elissa Doherty.