Real Girl Roadtest: A Newbie's Guide to Meditation
Chances are you have unresolved stress in your body, manifesting in a bunch of ways; skin woes, high blood pressure, irritablity. And later, maybe heart disease. Depression. The amount of stress we experience in modern life is mind-boggling. Between work, relationships, exercise, your family, study, a social life, all while trying to feed an addiction to your Instagram feed, there's not a whole lot of time left to actually relax, let off steam, and let your poor, overworked body recover. Dr Michael Sinclair, author of Mindfulness for Busy People, told the London Standard: "We need to recognise that the brain has evolved to problem-solve and endlessly analyse in order to protect us. But that can be detrimental to productivity and achievement because it gets in the way."
If it's work-related stress you're worried about (guilty!), know that you're not alone. One study on workplace compensation claims made by Australian employees found that while claims actually reduced between 1996 and 2004, the number of stress-related claims almost doubled. Crazy, right? You know the feeling. Meetings all day, deadlines looming, and that painful person in accounts who is always on your back. Personally, I'm not a big fan of feeling on-edge, all the time, which is why I went hunting for a fast way to chill out, stress less, reeelax. And I found it.
Have you heard of transcendental or vedic meditation? It's the Oprah-approved method of meditation that's been gaining momentum outside of boho hippie communities and beyond hardcore yogis. Note: you do not need dreadlocks or unshaven legs to feel the benefits of this ancient technique. I was introduced to meditation by a girl friend, who is a trendy 20-something, also working in digital media and fashion. Stress is a word she's also all-too familiar with. She put me in touch with Matthew Ringrose, a vedic meditation teacher who everyone's been buzzing about lately in my home suburb of Bondi Beach. A husband and father, Matt came to meditation from an entrepreneurial and corporate background. So, he's familiar with stress, too.
After a bit of research — simply searching meditation on Google will talk you into trying it yourself — I decided to sign up to a week-long vedic meditation (which is super similar to TM) course with Matt. I was surprised by what I experienced — in a good way, and sometimes just in a weird way. There's no doubt meditation has its critics. It's been called a cult, a religious practise, a fraud. But does does it have real benefits? What is it actually all about? I decided to find out.