Yoga Magazine writer James Ellerbeck came on the EE meditation and yoga course for 2 weeks
Here is article as it stands, currently being edited in London, so scan it for typos. Took me forever to get it done with, I guess the days of polishing off articles ten to the dozen are long gone and I'm a bit rusty.
It will come out in the April
issue of the Yoga Magazine, in the depths of the English winter. The photos of sunshine and salads and eating outdoors will look even better then by comparison.
I'm in Shanghai now. I'm back for a month to see my love - everything is going great - very happy. I'm going to Spain in the first week of January. My Love plans to come over late January or early February, after I have made a nice soft landing for her. I've got her into meditation and she's LOVING it. She is about to build her antahkarana.
Let me know your thoughts on the article, I'm sure you will. I've added your contact details and web site address at the bottom so people can get in touch directly. I also have some great shots to accompanying. I'll scan them in and get to you asap.
All the best, love to Devi,
p.s I hope you enjoy this article. I suppose in a week or two it will be in PDF format direct from the magazine.
Title: Peace Begins Within, Article for the Yoga Magazine of Great Britain
By James Ellerbeck
Last summer, after three years of on-and-off asana practicing, I thought it was about time I did a few mental exercises too. So in early October I flew to Spain to take part in my first meditation course and, unbeknown to me at the time, entered into one of the most grounding fortnights I can remember.
Meditation is just reflection and observation. But through meditation we can use our will power to gain control over our unconscious desires and fears – our rampant ego and insecurities - which can run riot over our lives and get in the way of reason and our best intentions.
The Energy Enhancement course is a beautiful course that had an instant, positive impact on me and the other students. The course is run in Argentina over the European Winter months, and Spain during the summer. In Spain its home is in L’Escala, a small coastal town about an hour and a half north of Barcelona by car. The course promised and delivered exactly what I looking for; we would be taught how to quieten the mind through meditating and then spend some gentle weeks getting to know our deeper drives and emotions. That the centre was a stones’ throw from the Mediterranean didn’t hurt much either.
The course is split into three parts or levels and takes about a month to complete. In level one we learnt how to meditate; the correct posture and breathing, and we were given techniques to cope with distracting thoughts and to focus the mind. We also learnt how to use our imagination to picture our connections to the world and universe around us.
During my two weeks I made it through level one and onto the foothills of level two. This is normal progress. Satchi has had some students who race to the end of level three in the same amount of time but normally the whole course lasts a month. It is not an absolute science of course, Paul stayed for six weeks, but four weeks is the recommendation.
Level One of the course started with the very basics of meditation. By closing our eyes and counting our breath in and out we learnt how to ignore nagging thoughts – the “what’s for breakfast” “this isn’t working“ thoughts – that pinch and snipe us for attention. Then, slowly but surely, as the calm came about, we went on guided meditations, guided in so far as we were told what to try and picture before each session, though not during – meditation was always silent affair. We were told to imagine energy flowing around us, like auras, revolving and connecting with us. Through repeat sessions we then extended our flows of energy so that they reached out and fed from different points in an imaginary universe, a universe we had to build in our mind’s eye. Each time a new level of the universe was created, so the energy at our disposal was raised by having new reserves to draw from. Once we could clearly see and feel all energy coming to us from all these new connections, we then used this heightened mental power to work towards an ever-deeper state of calm.
My own experience of imaging this space was quite fun and exploratory. It was the first time I had really tried to will something like this together in my minds’ eye. It took perhaps five sessions before I could clearly see all the components of my universe clearly, though soon it became quite easy to just close my eyes, very quickly still my thoughts and then be anywhere in the universe that I wished. Satchi was a very forgiving guide too, which I think helped. If, for example, my mind wandered off, he would catch me staring out of the window and just say something like better luck next time. They were no angry words while I was there – compassion was the order of the day.
While willing this imaginary space into existence within our mind’s eye, we were always on the look out for distractions being brought up on the winds of our unconscious mind. These distractions can appear on the canvas as all manner of apparitions - shapes, objects, frustration - anything that draws our attention away from clearly seeing the picture we are trying to create. For the purpose of the Energy Enhancement course these distractions were referred to as blockages. Learning how to control and the remove these blockages from the path of our meditation is a central aim of the course. We grounded them by circling them in light and sucking them into the nearest burning centre in the universe, the sun or the centre of the earth perhaps. Some were stubborn, and some easy to remove.
As the course progresses, so the low hanging fruit get picked and we move on to deeper blockages. Once our grounding skills were tried and tested many times over, we used them to meditate on our lives, our relationships, our characters, and our work – every facet of ourselves organised and charted systematically. We took notes after each session and large parts of our free time were spent talking about our progress and what kind of thoughts and emotions were being unearthed during own meditations. A blockage, you see, is a symptom of a deeper malady. With fervour we drew up hit lists of trouble spots in our lives became the next list of thing to meditate on – so in anyone session different people would be meditating on different things – one person perhaps on a relationship, another person might be looking on a part of their character and so on. I found this to an exceptionally cathartic experience, a real tonic, and it was quite common for different parts of the house to be full of laughter at any given time of the day. It was a joyous two weeks.
Level three is about mastering relationships, which uses the lessons of levels one and two and brings them to bear on problems in our social connections in the world and our “strategies”. These strategies I didn’t really meditate on during the course as I was only there for half of it, but we did talk about this level frequently. Strategies are the acts we put on to get ourselves through life. Acting tough, craving sympathy, constantly trying to please – a whole host of strategies employed by the ego, some of which are so deeply ingrained with our character that they have become part of us. Level three teaches nonattachment to these strategies, students learn how to ground them to rid themselves of the fears and insecurities that prop the strategies up. This aspect of the course I was truly fascinated by and I will try and make an effort in to visit the guys again to explore this level in more depth.
All in all there is far more to the course than I can go into here. Aside from the teaching, I could talk about the food for days, well-combined vegetarian feasts by the way, or Devi’s infectious laugh and sense of humour. I also fondly remember my long talks with Satchi about engaging with the world and generally look back on the whole experience as a real turning point for me. A time to stop and take a look at how far we have come.
Arriving back in England I danced the whole night away, something I hadn’t done in a while. Energy Enhancement does exact what it says on the tin.