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'My Story' by Carrie Burns

......the meditation part scared me!

My first experiences of ‘meditation’ were stressful to say the least. I found myself getting anxious about even going to classes because the meditation part scared me. I enjoyed the postures but found myself making excuses to leave the Astanga yoga class early so I didn’t have to lay in the darkened room trying to meditate.

When I closed my eyes and tried to relax I found my mind was my worst enemy. Frightening thoughts, feelings and images came into my mind.

I had experienced the loss of three close friends and family members in a short space of time and the trauma of these events were replaying in this quiet time. Ashtanga poses were awesome, but the ‘meditation’ part sucked. I quit ashtanga and spent the next few years trying to find a yoga class that didn’t have an ending I found scary. I kept up with daily asana (postures), but meditation still eluded me.

Then one day my son came home from the skatepark with an invitation. “Mum I met this really cool kid and his parents do yoga too, and meditation! He said they’re having a meditation class at their house tonight and we should go. Can we?” I was reluctant. Still scared. What type of meditation? What will we do? How long will it last? “Mum don’t worry!” said my 12 year old. “He said it’s really cool, with music, I’m gonna bring my guitar.” I was intrigued.

That evening was my first introduction to mantra meditation. It changed my life completely. There was nothing scary about it. Instead of frightening memories and thoughts, my mind was instead filled with transcendental sounds of mantras.

Kirtan meditation is a simple call and response. One person would take a turn to lead and everyone would respond. There were no hard or fast rules. My son and his new friend were among those jamming along on guitars and drums. Sometimes the tunes were upbeat or reggae styles and people danced around. Other times the tunes were lullabies that nearly sent us into a blissful sleep. All the while my mind was completely at ease, daily stresses disappeared and my heart was filled with joy. I was hooked.

That was over a decade ago. Today mantra meditation is a central part of my daily routine. It has transformed my life. The anxiety and fearfulness that plagued me is a distant memory. Mantra meditation has opened the door to genuine contentment and lasting happiness. I am eternally grateful to my dear friends who bought me this gift.

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