Isn’t it always the case, we focus on the surface level of things, and sometimes we neglect to zoom in and explore a bit deeper. This is how I felt about meditation to start. I wanted more peace and order in my life, and it took me some time to learn that I had to dig a little deeper, and move layer by layer, like peeling back the layers of an onion, crying while doing so, of course. My background in self-care began with esthetics, so naturally, I must use an appropriate analogy. I did everything from manicures to facials, to pedicures and waxings. I became knowledgeable about the physical body and beauty. Here’s one piece of beauty advice that I learned: when your skin is dry and dehydrated, slapping on some moisturizer, doesn’t truly fix the problem, it just covers it up. You see, to moisturize and heal the skin, this must happen internally. To heal the body and the mind, inside out, one must meditate.
My first experience with meditation happened when I attended Deepak Chopra’s retreat in Whistler, called “Seduction of Spirit”, a very fitting title, because let’s be honest, I had not registered that I had chosen the perfect conductor for my meditation train. However, I started to feel a bit uncomfortable when I walked into the retreat. Granted the room was beautiful, like a ballroom, but everywhere I looked, stood pictures and statues of Hindu and Buddhist deities. Beautiful pictures of Saraswati, goddess of wisdom and consciousness, hung on the walls, and statues of Buddha and Ganesha, stood in the front. All of a sudden, a thought came to me: “What am I doing in a place like this? I’m a Muslim! It’s forbidden to even admire or idolize these types of things!” Talk about wearing the wrong hockey jersey at a game, I felt like I stood out in a sea of those magnificent gods and goddesses. I probably would have left, if I didn’t keep telling myself that the thirst and dire need to find inner peace was too prominent to give up. I needed to squeeze that bottle of magic potion containing inner beauty, you know, that one that you definitely can’t find on the store shelves. Trust me, it’s not there.
So, off to meditate I did. They split us up into groups, and each group was given a mantra, a helpful vehicle to pure thought energy. Now usually you would not tell your mantra to others, but since my mantra has changed since then I will share with you now what I was given. I was asked to repeat the mantra, Om Mum Namah. A mantra is made up of root sounds, which are vibrations from an object or action for which it is used. It’s funny, because I had no trouble remembering the mantra or repeating it, it just reminded me of my beautiful mother, Mumtaz. I repeated it gently and effortlessly, “Om Mum Namah”, let me just have a look around at everyone else, “Om Mum Namah”, they look so calm, “Om Mum Namah”. Every time I closed my eyes I would feel like I had an itch on my bottom, “Om Mum Namah”, I am so uncomfortable, and on I went. Thoughts raced through the tracks of my conscious and my guilt and panic of being a Muslim who was taking part in a Hindu practice high jacked my mind, and Deepak Chopra was no longer the conductor of this train, nor was my mantra.
For years working as an aesthetician who ran and owned her own spa and retreat, I have treated and cared for clients with all kinds of skin problems, done beautiful pedicures and manicures and all kinds of glorious facial treatments. It was a treat to see people leave with just a little more self-love in the gas tank, and to feel beautiful inside and out. But for me, it wasn’t enough, it felt like there were too many extra layers to add, too many creams and too many masks. What is the way to heal and “moisturize” your mind, from the inside? How can I have peace inside, so that I don’t have to reach out externally, so that I always have it with me? These questions kept me internally repeating my mantra, as well as the burning desire to finally find out what the deal with karma is. I wanted to know what the secret was, and it kept me coming back for more. I started a routine of meditating (which coincidently, just turned into a routine of naps). But I kept at it and now it is my saviour, my delicious state of pure consciousness. I can sit back and watch my thoughts go by, like they’re cars, and I don’t have to run behind them waving my arms in the air. I can just acknowledge them and send them on their way. Of course, the first time you meditate, you probably won’t get it right away, but you will certainly experience trying it, and isn’t that worth it? And then, keep doing it and you’ll get it. Just like any human skill or any mode of self-care, whether in the body or the mind, one must learn how to do it. Remember, your brain is an organ too, chances are, it can do with a little spring cleaning. And soon you will see, that your brain isn’t supposed to be a collection of crashed cars with you sobbing in the middle of all of it. Meditation has really done wonders for me. It has allowed me to sustain my inner beauty, to stay rejuvenated in the body and the mind. I can work on myself internally, so that my true being can shine through effortlessly. That’s what I was looking for all along. It was not easy to learn, and it was terrifying for me to dive into a technique I had previously thought as some sort of sin, as if the mullas (muslim priests) were coming to see what I had done. For myself, it feels good to have found a way to reach internally and find a way to heal myself from the inside out; to create and hold a space to acknowledge and observe my very being.
So now I turn the spotlight onto you for a moment. Do yourself a favour and ask, “Have I found my inner beauty, a place to acknowledge and observe my very being?”