Meditation & Breathwork
Supported by a plethora of scientific studies demonstrating all the many benefits of meditation for our physical, emotional or mental health, this discipline is becoming more and more popular! Whatever the initial reason that pushes us at some point to "sit", very quickly, the meditator who persists a little bit realises the incredible potential and depth of this practice, which is a point of entry for the most fascinating exploration ever: the exploration of the Self.
According to the traditions and cultures where meditation emerged, this practice took on many different forms, but at the heart of them all, there seems to be one common ground: fundamental questions about the meaning of existence, of this world, of "who am I" ? We all come to wonder, at some point or other in our lives, at this tremendous mystery that surrounds and inhabits us. Thus, across all contemplative traditions, meditation has always been a path of awakening aimed at this exploration.
My approach to Meditation
In meditation, instead of externalising this quest and exploring the world around us, we curve our gaze inwards, and wonder at the primary element which is within our reach and accessible, that seems to be so tangible and undeniable: the Self. This being that we are, endowed with consciousness. It is therefore a very intimate, personal and internal process.
It doesn't take much. The great Zen Buddhist master Suzuki Roshi would say that it is "simply a matter of sitting" and the world would reveal itself to us. Of course, if you have already experienced meditation, you may think that it is not that simple. This is why the practice is underlined by a variety of techniques and why the attitudes we have when engaging in practice are fundamental. We cultivate perseverance, patience, detachment and acceptance. Meditation springs as much from what is immediate, from simplicity, from the present moment as it unfolds over time, through deepening and effort. It is a dance between these two aspects, that you eventually learn to dance... And all of that is part of it. Not only the brief and volatile moments of "mental void", but this entire dance, this entire inner process, are part of it.
Leave aside the notion that meditating is too difficult, or that to meditate is to escape from reality for some time, or that it is to have no more thoughts... To meditate is on the contrary, to take in reality as it presents itself to us, unfiltered, and to come as close to it as possible. It is flirting with the world within... It is to explore without any preconceived ideas, a wild trail without signs. It is like heading into the forest with only a small compass as one's instrument and your heart full of enthusiasm, open and ready to receive.
My way of teaching
I was introduced to meditation in a Zen Buddhist center, and then explored several traditions such as Theravada Buddhism, Vipassana and mindfulness meditation. I also followed many silent meditation retreats with Hridaya Yoga where I was able to practice different techniques from Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism, Christianity, Kashmir Shaivism, and Advaita Vedanta (philosophy of non-duality). This showed me that there are an infinity of tools for an infinity of beings, and that "there are as many paths as there are aspirants"...
These influences and experiences inform my way of teaching. With meditation, there are no ready-made answers or ideas, there are simply tools to share that are based on practice and which each person will have to experience personally, in their own way and at their own pace.
In my teachings, my goal is to create a space in which you will be able to make these experiences for yourself and to exchange with others about these experiences. I leave a lot of room for practice but I also give all the theoretical pointers and the contextualising that are necessary to apprehend these techniques, as often come to us from distant cultures.
Meditation is never an escape, but a serene encounter with Reality.
- Thich Nhat Hanh -
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork starts first of all with the awareness of breath, as such a primary element of our being, of our aliveness, which we simply take for granted. Breathing properly, being able to access deep belly breathing is fundamental to our overall health, and can improve in many ways our physical and psychological wellbeing. Once this is established, we can start exploring more techniques coming from a variety of different backgrounds, yogic or not.
With the breath we can learn to monitor our nervous system, switching it on and off when needed, gaining more emotional balance, psychological stability and mental clarity, and more alignment and energy in our life generally.
The yogic science of breath (called Pranayama) refines our ability to control and use our breath most effectively, amplifying the Prana, the energies within, and quietening down the mind to access deeper layers of our being, leading us naturally into meditative states.
Some benefits of Breathwork and Meditation include:
- helps with sleeping disorders, insomnia etc.
- helps with digestive disorders
- boosts the immune system
- helps to lower blood pressure, regulate cholesterol
- helps regulate the hormonal system
- reduces stress, anxiety, depression
- brings emotional and mental balance