How did you get into Meditation and Mindfulness?
That's a question that I am asked quite frequently by the people who attend my sessions so I decided it could be interesting to tell the story of how I got interested by this practice and how this interest evolved into a passion and eventually into a job as well.
As a background, I have to say that by nature I am a very curious person: I would try many things just because they interest me and most of the time the interest may vanish soon after.
In the beginning, that was my approach with meditation too: it was around the year 2000, I was studying Computer science engineering in Turin and I was going to a study hall while preparing for exams.
Through a friend I met a girl who was studying Oriental studies and she was learning Japanese. Since she was interested in Japanese culture, she started reading about Buddhism and I asked some questions about that religion, of which I knew very little of at that time.
We slowly became friends and she lent me a short book about Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. That was my first contact with meditation.
After reading that book I tried to practice meditation as thought by Gautama the Buddha which is commonly called "Vipassanā". Vipassanā is translated as "insight" and it's a style of meditation practiced while sitting still, observing one's breath and bodily sensation.
For those of you familiar with the difference between meditation and mindfulness, Vipassanā is a mindfulness technique and it was indicated by Gautama the Buddha as the tool for self-realization.
I liked the Buddhist philosophy of "being a light unto yourself" and having a simple tool that I could use to know myself better and relax without having to adhere to any structured religion was a big plus.
I tried the technique some times but at some point it was just a common interest. Later, in 2002, me and my flatmate wanted to start training in martial arts. We checked different schools around our area (and some very far because we had time and again I like to try different things). We ended up choosing a martial arts course where they taught Shorinji Kempo, a Japanese martial arts similar to Kung-fu and at part of the practice was meditation.
If you're curious about SK below you can see a short video done by the Italian federation and the guy in the thumbnail of the video was actually my teacher, Roberto :)
The training was intense and I really recommend SK as it is a very complete martial arts style which would help also for self-defense in case of need.
At the very end of the training we would sit silently for a period of time and we would learn how to be mindful. Once again, we would practice mindfulness: we would sit still and just focus on our breath and body sensations.
I practiced SK for a couple of years weekly and this is the time when I had the chance to meditate more often because of the training sessions. This also helped me to build a habit and I would practice meditation at home as well when I felt like it.
This was the story on how I got in touch with meditation in the beginning, I will continue this story in the next article, stay tuned!