Light on Meditation: a tonic for the Anxious Mind
Love Light, love life. The late B.K.S. Iyengar clearly did with his seminal works, “Light on Yoga” and “Light on Pranayama”. Not that I am trying to emulate the great master’s works and his teachings, but the theme of this post was inspired by his dedication to yoga.
Without light, our world would be plunged in eternal darkness, and life, as we know it, would cease to exist (well perhaps those weird creatures that live on the bottom of the seabed, many kilometres below sea level might survive..).
The emergence of light from the breaking of a new day can be a magical experience to witness, especially as the days get shorter in the northern hemisphere, as the sky becomes filled with tinges of orange and pink, often blended together in a whirl of symphony and fantasy.
Similar feelings can be felt as we watch the sun set, in places like Santorini or Formentera. It captivates our souls as we are drawn to these magical experiences. It makes us feel alive.
Light then is our pathway to the divinity: the heaven within us all that is the source of our true inner peace. Light is also central to any meditation practice, for anyone who is experienced will tell you – the way to external peace is through inner peace. So, if we can see and feel the light through our meditation practice, then we know that our practice is developing well.
Of course, some meditation practices are less inward focused for which reaching such goal is not possible, however I generalise such experiences in the context of meditation per se, as a reminder that meditation is ultimately a spiritual practice.
For me, I sometimes get these sensations in my practice, as if I am engulfed in a fountain of white light…often at the beginning of the day, when they say that meditation practice is at its most potent. Thanks to my meditation timer and its new journal capabilities, I often describe my feelings that emerge during my meditation. Sometimes, simply, I note ‘I am the Light’.
Whilst the feelings generated through meditation may seem special on their own, what if we could apply them in a more therapeutic or cognitive sense?
The practice of cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT is often prescribed by psychologists and therapists for treatment for anxiety. The theory of CBT is that thoughts (which are automatic, which we often have little control over) generate feelings, and in turn such feelings generate behaviours. The worst thing about anxiety is the negative loop that it generates. The vicious circle of negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours, constantly feeding itself, creates a self-fulfilling mechanism of inner tension and anxiety.
What then if there were something that could break this negative loop? Something that could easily stop those thoughts turning into feelings and the anxiety response we all dread. Something so easy, that is present when you want it without having to lift a finger or eye lid…I do not wish to step into the shoes of a clinical practicing therapist, but it occurred to me that this was something so simple and beautiful.
Light. If we can feel or be with the experience of presence of light in our meditation practice, then anxiety and all that is bothering us instantly dissolves. It breaks the loop and the anxiety is neutralised before it can even get off the ground. When I get those moments of troubling thoughts, simply recalling the visualisations of the light during my meditation instantly takes me back to the present and reminds me of who I really am. I am not my anxiety – I am the Light.
The beauty about this is that you can apply this ‘technique’ anywhere – in the office, in the playground or just out and about. Here and now.
It doesn’t come over night, and for some it may not come at all, but for those with dedication to their meditation practice, the reward of the Light is priceless.
“OM. I AM ONE WITH THE INFINITE POWER OF LOVE. I AM PEACE. I AM LIGHT. OM.”
(The Life of Higher Love. Awakening to Self-Knowledge. Berta Dandler. Shanti Sadan. July 2014.)