By Michael Linennen
In recent years, meditation has become a trendy practice in the Western world. According to a research done by the University of California Los Angeles, it shows people who meditate have stronger connections between different parts of the brain. By practicing meditation every day for five to 10 minutes, it can help reduce stress and relax your mind.
For Chemi Lhamo, she believes that meditation can help her train her brain and be mindful. Lhamo was born in India while her mother was Tibetan, and she moved to Canada when she was 11.
While she was trying to fit into the Western society, she noticed that her peers were speaking in English more often than Tibetan, looking down on people who spoke Tibetan rather than English. That is when Lhamo decided to embrace her own culture and her Buddhist tradition. And it was last year she met her teacher that helped her connect to her own Tibetan culture. Lham also started to practice meditation a year ago. Apart from practicing with her teacher once a week, she would always find time to meditate by herself even if it means she is doing it on the subway.
“Often times what we do in the Western world, is you meditate for a class for an hour and then you’re done you’re done being mindful, you’re done thinking about other people, other beings or loved ones right, but that’s not how it is in the Buddhist tradition,” Lhamo said.
“The Buddhist tradition is to better yourself, be a better human being every second, we believe in impermanence, nothing last forever, so constantly you’re trying to change for the better and be able to think for every other being.”
Lhamo tried going to yoga classes before but she was only helping herself temporarily. It wasn’t until she looked into her Buddhist tradition; she started practicing meditation and felt happier internally.
“I’m always trying to train my mind in the sense that the emotions that arise, the thoughts that I had. Especially actions in general, I think twice before I do something, or before an action even arises. I always think that it’s a thought first, and then analyzing that thought and not actually making it come to an action. So that’s being mindful, and that’s part of meditation for me,” Lhamo said. “There’s more mental clarity.”
Lhamo’s teacher Geshe Gedun Dhondup provided an example for beginners, to begin with.
“You can take a breath in through your right nostril and take it out through your left. You would be surprised (at) how much power your mind has. The more you practice, you would actually feel the air is going in through your right nostril,” Dhondup said.
“If you are trying to do a breathing exercise, you need to know or understand your breath because that is why the air is coming in right? And that’s your focus. So you need to understand that first. That’s the ultimate first step to anything.”
Lhamo added that everyone should think about what meditation is to them.
“What is meditation? What is the point of meditation? Why do you want to meditate? Ask yourself what’s the reason behind it? Once you have a reason behind it, then it’s like a goal,” Lhamo said. “As long as it is clear for you, you’ll work your way towards it, and then in the process, you’ll realize what the bigger picture is. And hopefully, you will go on that path. If you don’t then it just won’t help you, in the end, you won’t get the goal you’re looking for.”