A Q&A with Maria Uribe, meditation teacher of our upcoming Meditation Mandala course – a 21 day dive into meditation and pranayam.
Tell us a little about your own meditation practice?
My practice starts with pranayam to get the body, mind and nervous system ready to sit still, and includes lots of breathing and mantra. I usually dedicate 1 hour, sometimes more, to it and try to practice at the same time and in same place. If I don’t get to do my practice at the usual time then I fit it at anytime during my day. Before I used to think an hour was a lot but it now feels normal and a part of my life, it’s all about creating the habit and making the practice a priority.
Has your meditation practice changed over time?
I have explored lots of different types of meditation practices – dynamic meditations, mindfulness, guided meditations, vipassana ( 10 days of silence) and what I practice now Kriya Yoga.
Vipassana was my practice for 5 years and it was a very powerful practice, it taught me so much about myself, my habits, behaviours, the mind. It helped me explore the depths of the practice and gain an understanding of it from experience. I came to understand the importance of keeping to one method and to do it regularly – so you can really go deep instead of jumping from one method to another. In this way you can give yourself the opportunity to explore the depths of what meditation can offer.
During my journey with vipassana I felt I needed more support, guidance and sometimes it was hard to sit for an hour and be so rigid – vipassana is a very strict method. It felt like there was something missing for me. I believe a lot in the method but not sure if it works for modern lifestyles, and with the little understanding we have in the Western world about meditation. I wasn’t a yoga teacher when I sat my first vipassana and there was a lot I couldn’t understand. The why started to become important to me and the mind was getting in the way. Here is where I think we, as Westerners, need more support. I realised the importance to have constant support, guidance, a community and a teacher. I asked for years to be guided to a spiritual teacher who could help me to understand more about the practice of meditation and help me to deepen my own practice. Two years ago I found a teacher and the school Shiva Kriya Yoga. I now have the guidance I was looking for. I have been doing the same practice since and it has been a deep journey to discover more layers of me and more layers of the practice. I have the support from a community and a teacher, I have the tools to keep me inspired and to keep going with it.
Studios like Yogala are be a good place to start, to find support and a spiritual community to support you in your journey. My Meditation Mandala course is an opportunity to be held, guided and inspired to start or continue with a meditation practice. As a teacher I would always be happy to answer questions, to share with you my journey to help you with yours.
There can be a lot of confusion, and sometimes even anxiety, about beginning meditation – what is meditation not?
I can relate to the confusion and anxiety because I experienced it myself. Now I understand why and where was that coming from – the mind is always scared to look inside, to stop doing, to slow down, to have a moment and not be busy because it is how it can feel alive and is how it keeps feeding itself. We live in a society where we’ve rarely been taught or encouraged to stop, slow down, to be still. For most of us, we’ve been raised to do more, to be better, successful and to be able to achieve what we want – or what we think we want.
Meditation is to look inside and it is so natural and simple. Meditation tools are not complicated. Meditation is a process – you don’t need to force yourself to achieve anything at all or have any expectations, actually the less expectations the better. Meditation is not only to quiet the mind – that is in fact not the purpose of meditation but one of the benefits of meditation. The purpose of meditation goes beyond that – the purpose is that you find inside you the answers, you uniqueness, your power so you can live life at your full potential! Doesn’t that sound even better than just to calm the mind?
The only thing that meditation requires of you is that you make space in your day for the practice. Through the 21 days of the Meditation Mandala course you make the practice part of your life.