By Anandi Gray, Ananda Meditation Teacher Training Graduate
Recently, my friend Diksha asked me a question, “How many people have you taught to meditate?” As I considered my 30 years of teaching, I was surprised to realize the answer is: Thousands. I feel such joy sharing the ancient, infallible meditation techniques of Paramhansa Yogananda and seeing students discover for themselves the amazing benefits of meditation!
Often, in the midst of a six-week meditation course, students come to class reporting that they feel happier and healthier. They say things are better at home, too, and their families are noticing a difference. Often a student reports with a bemused smile that their child (or partner) now reminds them to meditate. Why? Because everyone benefits when even one person in a household meditates. Parents are more patient with their children, and interpersonal relationships become more satisfying.
When I first started teaching meditation, I had doubts about my ability but I gradually grew in confidence and discovered that it was valuable to face the test of self-doubt and get past it. At first I taught at home and then expanded locations over the years to include community education programs, churches, etc. Eventually I created courses for Southern Oregon University and taught in the philosophy department (Raja Yoga) and the physical education department (Hatha Yoga) for 20 years. Students earned academic credit while learning yoga and meditation. That was fun!
Ananda’s Meditation Teacher Training gave me fantastic training for teaching. I especially remember the class on “how to sit.” We sampled different positions using cushions, benches, and chairs. It was eye opening. Something so simple – sitting – can dramatically improve your meditations, once you discover the right position. Now I always help students find a comfortable meditation seat in the very first class—sampling cushions, meditation benches, and chairs. Beginners often mistakenly assume they must endure discomfort in a cross-legged position, but “asana” means a body that is both still AND relaxed. They are thrilled to learn it is perfectly okay to sit in a chair, perhaps supported with a pillow behind the back or under the feet. Most have never used a meditation bench before, but once but they try it, they often ask: “Where can I buy one of these?”
I am so very grateful for the blessings that come from teaching meditation. I have met many sincere people and formed long-lasting friendships; my own practice of meditation has deepened; and a palpable joy comes from sharing these teachings with others.
Anandi Gray is a Licensed Professional Counselor and teacher of Meditation, Raja Yoga, and Hatha Yoga. After living in Ashland, Oregon, for 25 years, Anandi now lives and serves at the Ananda Meditation Retreat, www.meditationretreat.org . She received Kriya Yoga Initiation in 1988. She has taught meditation to about 3800 people.