Meditation Made Easy With A Technique From A Monastery
Are you looking for a new way to relieve stress after a long day? Why not try something that doesn’t result in hangovers or sore muscles? Meditation can bring benefits that will not only decompress your mind and body, but also nourish a part of our lives that is often neglected — our spirit. So how about we skip the Jameson or jump-rope for a day and I will teach you an easy and effective technique taught by monks in the Hawaiian garden island of Kauai.
Years ago, I learned this meditation technique at a monastery called ‘Ganga Sadhana’ (pronounced Guhn-gah Sah-duh-nah). At the monastery, we had all the tools we needed to perform the meditation: a mat, a river, a basket of leaves with flowers, 15–30 minutes, and a body full of thoughts and emotions. Since not all of us have easy access to a river, I have developed an alternative version that can be equally as effective. All you need is an open mind, willing heart, and a functional media-playing device with headphones.
Prepping for Ganga Sadhana — for anyone, anywhere:
- Ready the Track: we are going to need a sound bit of running water (preferably a river or stream) that lasts 15–30 minutes, or that can loop indefinitely.
Pro-tip: Set a timer so you can get to the rest of your day punctually. Ganga Sadhana has been known to take people on an adventure where one can get lost in.
- Find a place to Sit: I only say “sit” because lying down during the process of this meditation can send us into nap-land.
- Leaves in a Basket: Gotta have leaves for the full effect, although if there are no leaves, then you can make a warm-up out of shredding a couple pieces of paper into small pieces. Place them in a large bowl.
- That’s it! No uncomfortable sitting positions, breathing patterns, or mantras. Get ready for the ride!
After gathering all of your tools, find a place you can sit where you will not be interrupted. You will have plenty of internal interruptions, so outside interruptions will only make it more difficult. Place the bowl of leaves or paper next to you, press play on your digital media device, and then close your eyes.
1. Visualise Jumping Into A Moving River
In this exercise of our imagination, we will first visualize sitting on the bank of a moving river. Listen to the water moving past. Jump in, and follow the water. As you move down the river, you will undoubtedly come across a few rocks, some branches, maybe even a river otter or a turtle, but keep moving with the river. Loosen yourself from every snag or distraction in the river and keep flowing.
2. Toss Negative Thoughts Into the River
Eventually a pebble or a meteor is bound to splash near you and draw your attention away. Did an image of that argument with your mom just pop up? A worry about if you answered a question wrong during an interview for a new job? Stop. Any and every type of stress will appear sooner than later. This is when you reach into the basket close to you and grab a leaf. Press your thought, problem, or feeling into that leaf and then release it into the river. The river will accept it and take it away. Next, grab a flower or another piece of paper and gently press on it. As you release this flower or piece of paper into the river, say thank you to the river for taking this hindrance away (you won’t get a ‘you’re welcome’ from the river. It’s busy taking all the problems of others away, too, you know!)
3. Submerge, Listen, and Flow with the River
Now let’s jump back in the river and flow with it. Just like how our bodies acclimate to cold water, the second time you jump back in it will be easier to adjust to the internal temperature of our inner river. Submerge, listen, and flow with the river. Listen to the sounds the water makes as it rushes past branches, splashes against rocks, and moves toward the ocean. At this moment you are the river. Flowing past all of the obstacles on your way to your goal of the limitless ocean.
Did the thought of cooking dinner for 6 in-laws just come up? Did you just realize the oven might not be working, or there are only 5 plates on the dinner table? Better reach next to you and grab a leaf! Be sure to thank the river again. Appreciation makes us wonderful.
Lather, rinse, and repeat this process until the alarm sounds. You should feel pretty awesome afterwards. Maybe a little less tightness around the neck and shoulders, maybe a truer smile when you realize you did have 6 plates, or that pizza was the answer all along. One thing is for certain, you came out of this exercise decompressed.
This technique is so efficient that you only need to do it once a week for observable benefits. So please, after a solid week (or year) of other methods of decompressing, try this once. Jump in the water, it’s free. It’s freeing.
Please tell me how your experience of Ganga Sadhana for everyone went!