In case you haven’t noticed, there is a quiet revolution taking place – the practice of mindfulness. People from every walk of life are increasingly looking for an alternative approach to living with the demanding stresses and strains of today’s busy lifestyle, and many are turning to mindfulness as the answer. Holistic practices such as meditation and yoga are being adopted by huge numbers of followers who are feeling the strain of everyday living and the overload our minds are subjected to each day.
The therapeutic and healing power of flowers is undisputed. We love this first passage from A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, about the beauty of flowers, their origins, and their mystic qualities.
Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: the first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun.
Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained rare and isolated phenomena since conditions were most likely not yet favourable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of colour and scent all over the planet – if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it.
Much later, those delicate and fragrant beings we call flowers would come to play an essential part in the evolution of consciousness of another species. Humans would increasingly be drawn to and fascinated by them. As the consciousness of human beings developed, flowers were most likely the first thing they came to value which had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a ‘silent sermon’ once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it. After a while, one of those present, a monk called Mahakasyapa, began to smile. He is said to have been the only one who had understood the sermon. According to legend, that smile (that is to say, realization) was handed down by 28 successive masters and much later became the origin of Zen.
Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature. The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness. The feelings of joy and love are intrinsically connected to that recognition. Without fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. They not only had a scent that was delicate and pleasing to humans but also brought a fragrance from the realm of spirit. Using the word ‘enlightenment’ in a wider sense than the conventionally accepted one, we could look upon flowers as the enlightenment of plants.
Another of his books, ‘The Power of Now’ is definitely worth a read. Taking time to smell the roses has never been more important!
Instilling a sense of calm and reflection into our lives can be difficult. Local meditation practitioner, Will Williams has taught over 3,000 people from all walks of life how to meditate. A former music industry executive, nine years ago he was suffering from insomnia and burn out until he learnt the ancient practice of Vedic meditation. His well-being was transformed and his insomnia vanished within a few weeks of learning, never to return again. We spoke to Will to find out about his experience with his meditation practice.
It had such an undeniably positive effect on his life that he is now dedicating his time to sharing this transformative knowledge with as many people as possible. Will and his colleagues now teach throughout London and within companies including Virgin, HSBC, Spotify, Warner Brothers and Channel 4. Will is also currently writing his first book, which will be published in May 2018 by Simon & Schuster.
What are the first steps someone should take if they want to explore meditation and mindfulness?
Try a few different techniques and meet different teachers to see what resonates with you. Many people come to us after having tried mindfulness but find it hard to stick with, whereas the technique we teach is so simple that even children can learn. We always recommend learning with a qualified teacher who can support you throughout the learning process and beyond – it is much more effective to learn that way as opposed to by yourself.
What advice do you have for anyone who struggles with finding time for meditation?
Find a technique that you can easily fit in around your lifestyle. Vedic meditation originates from ancient India and was designed for ‘householders’ – people with jobs families and responsibilities – rather than for monks who were renounced from society and had plenty of time to spend meditating high up in the Himalayas!
It’s a very practical, portable way to de-stress your mind, body and nervous system. You are given a personalised ‘mantra’, or sound, and you simply meditate for twenty minutes, twice a day. You can fit it in on your commute, sitting up in bed when you first wake up, in a park or in a meeting room at work.
Flowers have a very meditative quality, from the touch, scent and beauty and there can be a connection between meditation and nature. What is your experience with this?
Flowers are an integral part of our meditation course and our space is always filled with them. Flowers teach us the charm of silence, of purity and of stopping to appreciate the beauty of life. As part of Indian tradition, a flower is also offered by bringing it close to one’s heart, which is a symbolic gesture to strengthen the offering.
The benefits of meditation are scientifically proven and have shown to change people’s lives. Do you have any examples of the way meditation has affected the lives of people you work with?
We have an amazing variety of beneficial experiences amongst our students. Many people come to us struggling with depression and anxiety and have seen dramatic improvements after learning with us. Vedic meditation is a powerful alternative remedy that provides a profound level of rest to the nervous system (one that is 33% deeper than the deepest state of sleep). The body can then start healing itself – one way it treats depression is that the three main neurotransmitters associated with depression (noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine), all come into balance when you regularly practise Vedic meditation. The result is you feel much happier, balanced and free of the persistent irrational negative thoughts that characterise clinical depression.
Others have found that Vedic meditation has helped them become more significantly productive at work, or even pursue their dream career due to the increased connection they have with themselves and others. Other people who have suffered from digestive issues such as IBS have found that their symptoms have vanished. Even if there’s nothing overtly ‘wrong’ in your life, most of us are looking for a calmer way of being and to reduce stress so everyone can benefit hugely from learning.
How has meditation changed your life and what sort of changes might people experience if they incorporate it into their life?
I was in a horrible cycle of sleeplessness and anxiety, I had little energy or motivation and I was desperate to feel better. I had tried hypnotherapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbal pills and I was on the way to accepting that I would always have insomnia. Yet, after learning Vedic meditation my insomnia disappeared within a few weeks. For the first time in a long time, I felt healthy and could reclaim my happiness and sense of well-being. I began feeling more connected to myself and to those around me and my productivity went through the roof. I and countless others have found a deep sense of purpose. It’s like finally finding what you have always been looking for. Vedic Meditation is a tool that enhances everything you do, helps you become more in tune with yourself and the world and helps you to live an even more inspired life
For more information on beginners Meditation Courses in London, follow the link to visit our website.