Dec 17, 2017

Lis Cancio is a humble, grounded and engaging meditation and yoga teacher. She has been influential in the wellness space for 8 years and is fluent at making these ancient practices relatable to modern living. She believes they’re invaluable life skills to access our most centred, kind and creative self.

Meditation is allowing what is. – Victor Davich

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By Sarah Wilson

I follow the “Vedic style” of meditation, not the transcendental style, or TM. There isn’t a lot of difference, but there is enough to cause contention and confusion. I’ve corrected this post to reflect things more accurately. 

I’ve tried just about every form of meditation. None of them really stuck. I used to get stupendously tense meditating, often reduced to tears…that’s how much they failed to “stick”. About two years ago I tried Vedic meditation. I’ve said this before: when I get three reminders of something, I strike. That is, if three people mention the same thing to me, out of the blue, then I know I need to take note. And act. Which is what happened with meditation.

When the third person mentioned teacher Tim Brown to me, I signed up. I was down the beach at 5am, having not slept at all, distraught and lost. I was going through a grey time in my life. A random guy called Tom who I recognised from yoga came up to me, gave me a hug and said, “You’re in a tough place”. We met for tea that night and Tom talked up meditation and Tim.

I find meditation is generally presented to people in this way. Perhaps this post will be what touches you, it will be your third strike?

Meditation very literally Changed. My. Life. Tim promised it would. I was sceptical. But six weeks after I started, I landed the MasterChef gig. I meditated in the car outside before going in for my audition. The casting team said my certainty and poise got me the job.

There you go.

The Vedic Meditation deal in a few dot-points:

  • VM works like this: you sit in a chair (no need for crossed legs) with your eyes shut for 20 minutes, twice a day. You repeat a mantra in your head that your teacher gives you over and over. You repeat it gently – you don’t “shout it”.
  • If your mind wanders, you gently steer it back to the mantra. Always back to the mantra. That’s all you have to do. The mantra is designed to do the rest. It “drags” your consciousness down, down, down. The teacher chooses a mantra with a vibration that suits you.
  • I meditate after exercise in the morning (my body is more open, which helps go deep), often down at the beach in the morning sun. At night, I do it before I go out/have dinner. It’s great to shower first because when you meditate you produce an oil on your face which is REALLY good for your skin and has been shown to make you look younger….
  • VM has been scientifically proven to be up to five times deeper than sleep.  20 minutes of meditation is equivalent to 3 to 4 hours sleep.
  • I don’t fret about where I do it. I do it on planes, in my office, in my car. In fact, the more “inappropriate” the place, the better. The slight discomfort makes me focus more. I’ve written about this before, the idea of finding happiness “in spite of” mess or pain or chaos.
  • When I was hosting MasterChef, I used to meditate in the toilet cubicle (the only place I could get some peace) while my curlers set. On Mondays at Sunrise, I meditate in the wardrobe. No one seems to have a problem with this…I don’t think (!?).
  • Catalyst on ABC ran a feature last week: Transcendental Meditation: Hocus-pocus or healthy practice?Worth a watch.
  • VM costs about $1000 – for a course over 3-4 nights. Once you’ve been “initiated” you can then attend weekly group meditations for free. I reckon this is great value. For Tim, like all VM teachers, teaching meditation is his career. He has a family to feed. He’s not a monk sitting in a cave living off donations. Yep, you can learn meditation for free by volunteers. But – and this is an odd concept – I think the act of handing over $$$ for the service makes people like me respect the service more, and apply myself more fully to it. Hey, it’s the world we live in!

This is what meditation feels like (for me):

  • You know that sucking feeling when you stick a Mac power cord in the socket? That’s how it feels when you slip into the meditative state – like it all fits snugly, nothing is missing, things are firm and certain.
  • Sometimes I feel my body expanding, like I’m the Michelin man. This is, apparently, my consciousness expanding beyond the experience of my body. Other times my head spins around on its own. Some people collapse forward on to their laps.
  • Mostly, meditating is a jittery, thought-filled experience. BUT, the important thing is that when I come out of it after 20 minutes I’m 2938473 times calmer. This is what counts. Not what you do in meditation, but what happens after. Everything feels sweeter.
  • The three things I dig the most about Vedic meditation:
  • The soukshma/sookshma principle: while repeating the mantra, practice soukshma, which- as Tim teaches – roughly means innocent, faint and effortless. That is, come to the mantra innocently, faintly and effortlessly. This, for me, is the beauty of VM…it instills soukshma into your very being. So that out of meditation, the innocence, gentleness and effortlessness continues. It imbues. Infuses.Soukshma, soukshma, soukshma…!
  • Thoughts are good:It doesn’t matter if your mind starts chattering. Thoughts are little bubbles of tension that surface as we sink deeper. Thoughts release tension. They are good. They also remind us to return to the mantra. Thought pops up; cue “return gently to the mantra”.  This constant steering things gently back to the mantra is key. Because, when you return to real life out of meditation, it sets you up to gently steer things to calmness whenever your mind gets cluttery. It’s practice. It flexes a “steer to calm” muscle.
  • It’s just stringent and organised enough:I’ve stuck with VM because I belong to a community that sticks to it. We meet every Monday night just to meditate and chat. I see VM’ers around town, meditating down at the beach and in parks. Feeling like I belong to a crew of meditators makes me do it twice a day. A bit like living in a society where brushing your teeth day and night is normal, expected. So, you just do it.
  • It makes me look younger.I know this is vain, which is not very balanced of me, but HTG (honest to God), part of the appeal of VM is its anti-aging properties. My skin has changed over the past two years. The muscles on my face have released, relaxed and opened up. HTG.
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