The Indian Himalayas! What better backdrop for my first introduction to meditation than the majestic peaks of the tallest mountain range in the world. Shortly before this trip, I got myself psyched up by reading Autobiography of a Yogi. After several days of hiking in the foothills of Himachal Pradesh, through some spectacular scenery only a stones throw from the Afghanistan border, and passing through Dharamsala, current home of the Dalai Lama and hotbed of Tibetan culture, I arrived at a small cottage on the side of a hill, where I was greeted by the host, Mr Prakash. The purpose of this stay was mostly for R&R after some hard hiking, to enjoy the crisp air, taste the pure spring water, and to eat some organic vegan curries. However, the part of the stay that really stayed with me until now was the early morning meditation, which took place in a small cellar, sat on cushions breathing the dawn air through an open window.
The form of meditation taught was very simple, it was chanting the Sanskirt word Om. I had tried to meditate by myself many times before, but had always been unable to really quieten my mind, I ended up either getting frustrated, or falling asleep. I had never been considered that I don’t need to be silent, or “do nothing”, rather, I could focus my mind on a certain task, in this case chanting the word Om. We were instructed by Mr Prakash to start as loud as we could, and hold each Om for as long as we could, each time getting progressively quieter until it was under our breath. The atmosphere was energetic with a group of more than ten people all chanting the same sound at the same time, and it was impossible for your mind not to sink into a trance. On top of that, the vibration produced by the sound in your diaphragm resonates throughout your insides, and feels amazing, stimulating your entire body (random
fact: studies have shown that cats’ purring actually aides in healing their injuries and strengthening their muscles and bones).