BY Yashoda Devi Ma
Vedic Meditation is a technique that traces its roots to the Vedas, ancient Indian texts that are the foundation for Yoga and Ayurveda. Unlike Buddhist mindfulness-based techniques, Vedic Meditation (VM) doesn’t involve contemplation or trying to think compassionate thoughts. Instead, a mantra is used to settle the mind. It’s a powerful tool for cultivating calm and deep focus. Here are some of the basic principles of VM and a few ways this accessible technique can help you become more peaceful, clear, and insightful.
You need a Teacher
This practice isn’t something you can learn on your own, on YouTube—or even in the pages of this magazine. If you’re interested in learning VM, start by taking a four-day foundational course that includes lectures, meditation, and discussion, led by a VM teacher who has been studying and meditating for hundreds or even thousands of hours.
Your mantra is personal
VM mantras are wordless sounds that redirect the mind from thoughts and chatter. Your teacher will give you your mantra. VM training enables teachers to discern each practitioner’s individualized sound upon meeting them, much like an Ayurvedic expert can read doshas. Your mantra belongs to you. Receiving it is considered a sacred exchange. Revealing it is said to dilute its power.
Practice makes perfect
When thoughts arise, instead of acknowledging them and letting them go like we do in mindfulness meditation, gently return to your mantra. Over time, the practice will help you shift into a purely awake state of inner contentment. For me, that looks like joy: I am happy and able to maintain equanimity and perspective—even when everything appears to be going wrong.
It’s ideal for busy people
VM is specifically designed for everyday people with full lives. Practitioners typically meditate for 40 minutes each day: 20 minutes in the morning and 20 more in the evening. You can do it almost anywhere. Simply sit comfortably with your back supported in an upright position. Close your eyes and use your mantra until you get lost, let go, and relax.
It soothes a busy mind
A meditative state of rest lowers stress hormones such as cortisol and balances brain waves. It also produces helpful hormones (such as oxytocin, DHEA, GABA, and melatonin).With consistent practice, you can experience the advantages of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and learn from new experiences. Over time, the brain will rewire into a calmer, more aware, less reactive state.
Yashoda Devi Ma is a Vedic Meditation teacher who has been practicing for 17 years and sharing the technique as a teacher since 2013. She is the owner/founder of The Subtle Mind meditation and cocreative studio in Boulder. Find her at thesubtlemind.com