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Is Meditation Enough to Cultivate Inner Peace?

Vidyamala Burch






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Is Meditation Enough to Cultivate Inner Peace?

Is meditation enough to find real peace? Vidyamala shares some some important lessons.

Hi, it's Vidyamala here.

And I've been asked to answer

the question, is meditation

enough to cultivate inner peace?

I think this is such a great question.

And one that I've pondered

on for many, many years.

I first learned to

meditate way back in 1985.

And for many years, I did assume

that meditation on its own would

be enough to cultivate inner peace.

After all, the great wisdom traditions

say that everything is preceded by mind

and led by mind and that the quality

of our mind is the most important thing

if we want to experience inner peace.

Now that is true, I certainly agree with

that, but what I've come to see is that I

need to look at the quality of my mind in

my whole life, not just when I meditate.

What I used to do actually for about 10

years, I'm rather ashamed to say, is I'd

have my meditation in the morning, maybe

20 minutes, 40 minutes an hour even.

And I've finished my meditation with

the intention, today's the day when

I'm going to manage my activities,

I'm not going to get stressed, I'm

not going to get distracted, I'm

going to do one thing at a time.

I'm going to be Mrs.


And then usually within about, oh

gosh, half an hour, an hour, I'd just

be scatty doing lots of things at

once, pushing myself, driving myself

and essentially losing the plot.

I'd get to the end of the day,

exhausted, flopped on my bed

thinking, Oh no, I've blown it again.


Tomorrow's another day.

Tomorrow I'm going to manage to

be mindful through my whole day.

And then of course, the next day

I would do exactly the same thing.

So day after day, I'd have all these good

intentions and day after day, I'd blow it.

And I couldn't really get away with

that because I live with chronic

pain following quite severe spinal

injuries when I was a teenager.

So I've got a disability

and I've got pain.

So the cost was pretty high for me.

And I eventually realized that although

meditation was fantastic and I'm a total

devotee to meditation, what I needed to

do was actually look at my whole life.

How could I take awareness practice

off the cushion out of my meditation

practice so it perfumes my whole day?

And in fact, I intuited that will probably

be more transformative than just having

a meditation practice each morning.

After about 10 years of this kind of

meditation, you know, just the morning

meditation and then blowing it during

the day, I had a bit of a crisis.

My back got worse.

And I had to really ask myself, what

is it that I haven't understood?

I've been meditating for 10 years

and yet I'm back in another crisis.

So clearly I haven't quite

got the full message.

And what I reflected on is

there were two things really.

One is that I hadn't figured out how

to take my practice into my daily life.

And I'll say more about that in a moment.

And the other thing is I realized

that in my meditation, I'd got

quite good at being escapist.

So rather than being with my experience

and transforming my relationship to

my actual experience, I was using my

meditation to avoid my experience.

By fantasizing, even

daydreaming, that kind of thing.

My meditation had been effective,

but there'd always been a

kind of tension around it.

And once I really faced up to that,

I thought, well, no wonder, because

I'm putting all this effort into

avoiding my direct experience rather

than learning how to be with it with

tenderness and kindness and care.

So I decided to really, uh, take

these two areas on as it were.

I started changing the way I meditated.

So rather than using it to escape and

to avoid, I started using it to come

closer to what's actually happening.

I became much more embodied,

much more in my breathing.

All my teaching now is based on what I

learned by moving away from escapism and

moving into, I suppose what you call,

a much more strength-based practice.

Learning how to be with my

experience, with courage,

with fearlessness, with love.

And then as I said, the other thing was,

uh, looking at my daily life behavior.

One of the things I had to face up to is

that I had a tendency to live in, what's

called, the boom and bust patterns.

And what that means is when you

feel good, you do loads of things.

You really go for it.

You do all the housework, you do

all your emails, you go shopping.

You know, really sort of, think, right.

I feel good today, I'm going

to do as much as I can.

And then of course you have a crash.

And the technical term for that is bust.

It's quite interesting.

In, uh, pain management circles, fatigue

circles, longterm health condition

circles, they do actually call it boom

and bust because it's very descriptive.

And in all people that I've taught,

it seems that many of us live with

boom and bust, whether were, um,

living with a health condition or

just living in a normal, busy life.

So, what happens is you might have moments

of inner peace, but essentially you're

just like a hamster in a wheel, going

round and round and round, booming and

then crushing, booming and then crushing.

And really it's pretty unsatisfactory

way to live, pretty horrible way to live.

So what I developed was

something called pacing.

And that was learning to bring much

more balance to my daily activities.

Yes, the meditation was really, really

important for refining my awareness, for

finding my mind, training my mind, but

then I had to bring in much more clarity

in terms of my behaviors during the day.

So for example, now, if I'm working

on the computer, I'll use a timer.

After 25 minutes, timer will

go off, I'll have a break.

That's how I'm approaching

doing these recordings this

week, I'm taking regular breaks.

I also learned that I had to

kind of operate across a broad

front in terms of transformation.

And that meant looking at my diet, making

sure that I eat as healthfully as I can.

And that doesn't mean any

special diet necessarily, but

just having three meals a day.

Keeping myself well nourished.

I had to look at exercise.

Making sure that I was keeping my body

as fit as possible, as flexible as

possible and as strong as possible.

Because of my disability, you

know, I'm not running marathons or

anything like that, but doing what

I can to work with what I've got in

terms of my mobility and fitness.

And that's also been very important.

I've had to look at my

attitudes towards sleep.

Developing sleep hygiene, which means

going to bed at roughly the same time

every day, turning off digital devices a

good period of time before you go to bed,

not having the computer in the bedroom.

You know, some of these basic things that

are now pretty much common knowledge.

That's important because sleep is

so precious and many of us have got

quite poor habits of sleep hygiene.

That meant attending to the quality

of my friendships and relationships.

Making sure that I value

those and I prioritize those.

We're social creatures and

we're designed for connection.

So that's another aspect of wellbeing.

And of course, all of these areas

are underpinned by awareness.

It's pretty much impossible to

really work on your behavior and

daily life if you're not aware.

So I see it as, as awareness is like

the keystone of the great building or

the great cathedral of lifestyle change.

And then there's healthy eating,

exercise, relationships, and sleep.


Dean Ornish, who's quite a famous

doctor in mind-body medicine.

He says it very simply, "Eat well,

love more, stress less, move more."

That's so good, isn't it?

Eat well, love more,

stress less, move more.

And I think if we are really serious

about cultivating inner peace as a moment

by moment experience, a moment by moment

taste of something that's more open, maybe

a little bit softer around the edges,

less jagged, a little bit more present,

then meditation is absolutely essential

because it's our awareness training, but

then we need to look at our whole life.

Eat well, love more, stress

less, move more, and also pace.

And I would recommend that you consider

using a timer to break up your activities.

So thanks so much for listening to this

talk today and being alongside me as we

all try to figure out how to be fully

human, how to have more inner peace.

And I really hope that you've found these

tips helpful and relevant to your own

life and know that I'm walking beside you.

I'm bringing all these tips into my own

life and I really hope that you will

feel motivated to do the same in your

life and that you will indeed taste

a few more moments of inner peace.

So I really wish you

all the very, very best.

Included in

Q&A on Inner Peace null Playlist · 5 tracks

Q&A on Inner Peace

Playlist · 5 tracks4.9

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