Lauren Schuivens is a transformational facilitator. A large part of her work includes meditation workshops and retreats. She has studied with Buddhist Monks and is a Certified Mindfulness and Meditation Trainer. She currently lives in Bali, and is the founder of Samavira, the Mindfulness Retreat and Workshop.
In an interview, Lauren discusses the “myths” of meditation, how it can be incorporated in your daily life, and how practicing it can reconnect you to yourself. She also provides tips and offers a suggestion on what to visualize.
You say that people don’t think meditation is an easy thing to do. Why do you say that? What have you seen that has made people believe meditation isn’t easy? How can it be easy?
“I’ll explain this by busting two main myths about meditation.
Myth #1: The main goal of meditation is to empty the mind
One of the main myths I’d like to debunk about meditation is that the main goal of meditation is to empty our mind. Many of us believe the main goal of meditation is to empty our mind. This is not entirely true. I’ve trained with Buddhist monks in Thailand, who had been monks for 10-15 years, and even they have not yet achieved this. Instead, the main goal of meditation is to become more aware of our thoughts. In essence, meditation is the art of focusing our mind on one thought at time, and to stick with this one consciously chosen thought, out of the 40 to 60,000 random thoughts we averagely have in a day. This leads to the mind slowing down more and more, and becoming more and more peaceful, longer and longer. Meditation is the path (back) to inner peace.
Myth #2: Meditation is a spiritual, difficult method that needs a lot of practice
The term “meditation” does not solely refer to the traditional type most of us think of – which is sitting on the floor, in an uncomfortable cross-legged lotus position, in silence in your room with candles and incense burning, trying to keep your back straight and your mind empty at all times. Meditation can be much more dynamic and much more ‘daily’ than that.
In addition, many believe you need to have a minimum 20-min long, great meditation to call it a proper meditation, which is also untrue. When you try to force yourself, it won’t work, so there’s no point doing so, as it won’t be a meditation and you won’t be able to reap the benefits. This would just be another form of pushing ourselves, just like we do so often in life.
Instead, you can meditate in so many situations, and for a much shorter duration than many believe. You can close your eyes on the tube to work and focus on your breathing, whilst going for a walk in nature, whilst watching the waves break on the beach etc. Meditation is much more accessible than many of us think! The trick is to integrate meditation in the form of mindfulness throughout your day. In mindfulness practice, we are learning how to return to, and remain in, the present moment—to anchor ourselves in the here and now on purpose, without judgement.”
Any tips on how to meditate?
“These basic meditation techniques are simple yet very powerful.
- Sit comfortably, in a chair with feet standing flat on the ground next to each other, or sit on the floor and cross your legs comfortably.
- For posture, ensure your back and neck are up straight and lay your hands in your lap
- First, observe your breath without trying to change anything – just observe,feel breath going in & out
- Visualize a bright, warm, comfortable sun. swallow the sun and let it slide deep inside your belly. Don’t worry about the exact picture, rather notice the sensations this evokes
- Add the Mantra “clear and bright” together with the sun in your belly. Repeat the mantra in your mind (not out loud) and see if you can feel the vibration humming in your belly.
The Reason for visualizing objects and using a mantra is in this way we give our mind one specific thing to focus on. When full focus is here, other thoughts cannot co-exist, which allows the mind to fully relax.
Reason to focus on your belly is that the belly is the center of our body and the home of our mind. The exact location of the center is two finger-widths above the navel, however it ias not needed to stress over the exact location during the meditation. When keeping the mind focused on the belly for an extended period of time, the mind sinks deeper and deeper into our body, and becomes more and more rested and emptied. Eventually, so-called “meditative sensations” start popping up, such as feelings of blissfulness, weightlessness, understanding and inner peace.”
How does meditation help with emotional unblocking? And for people to reconnect to their inner selves?
“Sometimes things happen to us that define our lives unconsciously and immensely. We may think we have healed and our life has taken a new turn, yet somewhere, inside of us, unbeknownst to many we meet, we just gave up. We became the victim to our story, believing that life is constantly coming at us, overcoming us and however much we try, we can only go so far. This was my bondage; one that meditation helped me see for what it is, a fallacy robbing me of my aliveness. I learned through gradual practice that I am a co-creator of each process of my life. Spiritual teachers say your outer world is a reflection of your inner world, and I began to see this present itself in my daily circumstances; tired days, negative thoughts, always a victim, always blaming, I was co-creating it all. This awareness was mind blowing!
With this realization, I started looking for the lessons I could get out of every situation in life, a new focus that made me more responsive to my circumstances. It’s a gradual work in progress. One, as I discovered, that gets better when we share it with others.
The last key that gave me peace of mind, was working through my shadows, blockages and negative patterns. We all walk our own path in life and we all gotta take responsibility for our own growth. None of us is a victim, unless you put yourself in a victim state. Our inner strength is at much closer reach than many of us realize, and it is my mission to help remind people of this inner strength we all have inside, so we can reconnect to it and start living life in a (self)empowered manner.”
To find out more about Lauren and Samavira, follow her on Instagram at lauren.schuivens or find Samavira on Facebook.