What is Vedic Meditation?
Vedic Meditation springs from a 5,000 year old body of wisdom called the Veda. The word Veda means knowledge, specifically the wisdom of human consciousness merging with the laws of nature; it’s the source of all Eastern philosophy.
From the Veda emerged other concepts that have persisted to modernity, such as Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. If the Veda were a vast tree, Vedic Meditation would simply be one of its branches.
SUSTAINABLE HEALING, BODY AND MIND
Vedic Meditation is an intersection of mind and body wellness—it uses the mind to regulate forces within the body like energy, mood, sleep, and stress. Keeping these and other elements in balance helps us to meet each day with our head up and our feet solidly planted, ready to take on whatever life throws at us and to embrace joy where we find it.
A PRACTICE FOR THE PEOPLE
As a practice, Vedic Meditation was designed for “householders”—regular people with rich and busy lives who had jobs or responsibilities, a schedule to adhere to, people to be accountable to, and who couldn’t live as an ascetic or spend hours of each day in repose.
It’s one of the reasons why this ancient tradition has aged so well: what’s not relatable about the demanding daily routine of managing yourself, your home, your family, and your career, and all the accompanying work, worries and stresses?
Thousands of years ago this practice needed to be efficient enough that anyone could fit it into their day, and simple enough that anyone could pick it up quickly and easily.
THE MEANINGLESS SOUND
The key to Vedic Meditation, and the only equipment you’ll ever need, is a simple mantra that you’re given on the first day of The Course. A mantra is a meaningless sound—because it has no meaning and no significance, it helps a meditator to let go of distractions and disruptive thoughts.
Then as now, the Vedic Meditation practice was designed to fit into our busy lifestyles. We practice for just 20 minutes at a time, twice a day, with eyes closed, back supported, sitting comfortably. You can do this anywhere: your bed, a favorite chair, a quiet spot in your office, a park, the beach, the back of a Lyft, even Fenway! Just don’t try it in traffic.
BATTERIES NOT REQUIRED
Vedic Meditation is not a religion. Although there are religious and spiritual practices associated with the Veda, meditation isn’t it. Beginning a meditation practice doesn’t require you to change or do anything other than get to your seat and practice twice a day.
Vedic Mediation is a self-sufficient practice, it’s portable, and it doesn’t rely on technology like phones, apps or even guided meditation. Like a turtle carrying her home on her back, you take your mantra with you and wherever you are you can meditate.
Each person’s experience of meditation and progression through a practice of meditation is their own. What you experience when you first sit may be very different from your experience of sitting after 30 days.
The technique is simple: eyes closed, seated comfortably, back supported. Where is up to you—maybe your bed or a quiet corner of your house, perhaps in your car at lunch, or in the back of an Uber on your way to a meeting. As long as you’re in a spot where you can sit safely and undisturbed for twenty minutes at a time.
The timing is up to you, most meditators choose to sit first thing in the morning before they do anything else—it’s counter-intuitive, but on nights where you’ve had a restless sleep, rather than hitting the snooze button half a dozen times we recommend getting seated. Twenty minutes of meditation will do more good than 9-minute intervals of drowsing! Your second twenty minute sitting should happen sometime between lunch and dinner. So that your regular sleep patterns aren’t interrupted, it’s important not to meditate too close to bedtime, especially when you’re just starting out.
Once you’ve found your comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few cleansing breaths. These breaths will single to your body that it’s time to meditate and will help prepare your relaxation response.
Now you can begin repeating your mantra—when you sign up for The Course, you’ll be given your own personal mantra. The mantra is a meaningless sound; it isn’t a word and it has no significance beyond its significance to you as a way of keeping to the path of your meditation.
During each session, you can expect disruptions and distractions—these are perfectly normal and natural. Just repeat your mantra and let those thoughts pass you by.
Thought you may not be aware of it, while meditating your muscles will begin to relax—the muscles in your face and jaw, or your shoulders will soften and release their tension. You may experience a feeling of sleepiness in your physical body but wakefulness in your mind.
When you complete your session, you’ll feel rested because meditation is in fact profoundly more restorative than sleep; you’ll also feel less stressed. You may experience feelings of elation or contentment. As you return to your day you may feel more focused and energized, more productive and even more adaptable to whatever curveballs your day throws at you.
Your Experience of Meditation
Consider how often you mindlessly scroll through social media, not actually absorbing anything meaningful but carving out a little downtime when you’re not supporting someone else. Your heart is in the right place!
Finding time for yourself each day is vital to our health and happiness—but it’s rarely health and happiness that we find on social media. In fact, we often find deep dissatisfaction and material craving through that screen.
And how often do we feel shame about spending our downtime scrolling mindlessly through our phones instead of “doing something productive”? See, even our downtime isn’t relaxing!
Now imagine you instead spend 20 minutes sitting comfortably, breathing gently, focusing only on a single, simple sound. Throughout your body you feel your muscles soften and relax.
As thoughts pop off—little reminders from your brain about tasks you need to complete or memories of hurt feelings or guilt—you are able to tell yourself “Yes, but not now” and instead put your focus back on that simple mantra. What an achievement just twenty minutes can be!
There’s no “clearing your mind of thoughts” that so many of us struggle with. There’s no focus or concentration, struggling or strain with this technique. Like hiking through a forest following a path through the unknown, we’ll want to veer off course to look at something, but we’ll always return to the path to continue our journey. Our personal mantra guarantees it. With a shapeless, meaningless place to center our attention, we need never worry about being derailed by distractions and disruptions because our mantra guides us back.
The Benefits of Meditation
Vedic Meditation is ideal for every age, gender, race, and creed because it’s meant to help you achieve your best possible self. It’s perfect for college students, retirees, interns, CEOs, busy parents and entrepreneurs.
If you've ever felt stressed, overworked, overwhelmed, overstimulated, anxious, depressed, or chronically unhappy, you might benefit from a daily practice of Vedic Meditation.
Even after just one or two sittings you'll feel the benefits of a calmer demeanor and reduced stress.
Consistent meditators enjoy a long list of benefits:
Reduced stress, anxiety and fatigue
Improved concentration, focus and memory
Increased energy and resilience
Improved creative intelligence and motivation
Ability to make high-speed accurate decisions
Ability to stay calm under pressure
Strengthening the immune system
Increased social connection + reduced loneliness
Normalization of blood pressure and cholesterol
Improved sleep and relief from insomnia
Reduction of addictive behaviors
Improved sports performance
Relief from asthma and allergy symptoms
Improved relationship with self & others
Improved sexual relations that are healthy and natural
A greater sense of well being and happiness
CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN TWENTY MINUTES
Stress and the Body
"Why do I always feel like crap?"
Stress is such a ubiquitous and built-in part of our daily lives that for most adults, we barely even notice the effects is has on our minds, bodies, and even our relationships.
Stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol. This hormone can build up in our tissues and cause inflammation, which becomes the root of a lot of really pernicious ailments.
Stress can disrupt sleep patterns, elevate blood pressure, and promote depression and anxiety. The result is a tired, moody, fearful, and reactive person who struggles to cope with daily life in meaningful ways.
If you’ve ever felt your anger boil over at a slight annoyance, if you’ve ever snapped at someone asking you an innocent but annoying question, if you’ve ever felt like you’re walking around in a fugue state or you feel sick all the time, you’re probably holding on to a lot of stress.
STRESS & ANXIETY
Stress can lead to anxiety, which can really impair our ability to not only enjoy our day-to-day lives but even to cope with them. Anxiety can cause us to become paranoid, obsessive-compulsive, and can trigger panic attacks.
Most of us feel anxiety most acutely at work. We have to cope with superiors, subordinates, and colleagues making demands of our time, project deadlines, and tons of uncertainty around our financial and job security.
STRESS & DEPRESSION
Stress can cause depression, which affects how we see ourselves and our level of confidence in our ability to manage daily life. Even small tasks feel impossible when we’re struggling under the weight of depression. We eat too much or too little, sleep too much or too little, and find little to no joy in life.
When we’re unable to deal with daily life, we’re unable to meet our most important goals for life. Whatever your vision is of your best self will always be just out of reach when you’re struggling to deal with the minutia of your life. When we can’t meet our goals, our confidence suffers.
STRESS & PAIN
Stress can make pain even more painful! How we perceive pain is connected to our state of mind; stress, anxiety, and depression can cause us to feel pain more acutely and to feel more defeated by it.
STRESS & SLEEP
Stress disrupts our sleep. When our tissues are saturated with adrenaline and cortisol we’re unable to relax. Holding onto tension keeps us from reaching deep, peaceful, restful sleep, which is critical to repairing our bodies and preparing us mentally for the challenges of the coming day.
STRESS & MEDITATION
A meditation practice, performed regularly and consistently, can address all of these factors. It is an incredible remedy for stress; the effects can be felt immediately, and the effects will persist over time, becoming progressively more noticeable.
Meditation affects the body in the exact opposite way that stress does. Meditation triggers the body’s relaxation response, restoring calm, helping your muscles and tissues repair and preventing further damage.
When you’re able to slough off stress, especially in intensive 20-minute meditation sessions, you can combat chronic issues like anxiety and depression, so you’re better equipped to deal with the rest of your day without feeling overwhelmed.
SELF-LOVE & SELF-CARE
Meditation is an act of self-care and can help to improve your feelings of self-esteem and self-worth just by doing. Even if you don’t believe you deserve self-care, spending the time anyway will make an incredible difference in your life. Think about going to the gym and working out every day: even if you didn’t want to get fitter or didn’t think you deserve to get fitter, you would simply because you were there doing the work every day.
Finding twenty minutes twice a day can transform your whole life: right away you’ll feel calmer and more relaxed. Throughout the day you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more patient. And over time you’ll find you sleep better, feel sick less often, and enjoy improved focus and energy so you can be a goal-getter without sacrificing any of your daily obligations.
Overall, you’ll have a much more positive outlook on life and yourself. This leads to resilience and the improved ability to recover from illness, injury and trauma. You’ll also feel less stress—your life and all the demands won’t change, but you’ll feel less sensitive to them.