What I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Teaching Meditation

Today is my fifth anniversary of teaching meditation. As I reflect on these last five years, I feel incredibly grateful for this journey and everything I’ve learned along the way.

Teacher training class of 2014

Teacher training class of 2014

It was in April of 2014 when I finished a 12 week intensive training in the Himalayas of India, and began sharing Vedic Meditation in New York and California. I hit the ground running with fearless excitement ready to help anyone reduce stress and feel better. I had everything I needed to get started, but also had no idea what I was doing. I was a one-man show in my mid-20s with no entrepreneurial experience offering a service that was new and out of the ordinary for the common public. Believing in my potential to grow and share the practice that changed my life was enough to get me going. So I began teaching, one student at a time.

I thought teaching looked pretty easy from the outside, but as I got into it I realized the learning curve was STEEP. There’s also a lot of business work to sort out behind the scenes. Gradually, I figured things out and learned from my mistakes along the way. Staying diligent, I grew as a teacher day-by-day. After a couple years, word caught on and teaching became full-time. To this day it’s an ever-evolving process, which keeps things fresh and full of possibility.

Group meditation

Throughout the last five years, I’ve taught over 60 monthly meditation courses, hosted over 300 weekly group meditations, facilitated over 20 residential and non-residential retreats, traveled to India 5 times, and opened a new meditation studio in NYC, all in service of expanding happiness in the world. I’ve had the honor and privilege of teaching almost 400 students Vedic Meditation, and have facilitated advanced trainings for several dozen students who are now also teachers of Vedic Meditation.

If you told me before I became a teacher that all this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you. I lived a simple life in NYC working as an engineer and making art with friends. Even though becoming a teacher changed everything about my life, I’m so glad I followed the call to serve in this way. There’s nothing more fulfilling than living out your purpose.

It’s remarkable how much growth we’re capable of when we listen to that calling, face fear with courage, and go for it. The path less traveled also makes for an unforgettable adventure. In some ways, I feel like this adventure I’m on is just getting started, and yet it feels like I’ve had a lifetime of learning experiences already. They say if you want to become an expert in something, teach it.

Here are six key teachings of spiritual growth that I’ve honed (or have honed me, I should say) in my first five years as a teacher.

  1. Take life as it comes as an open-minded, curious student of life. There is no point of arrival or perfection, only balance and beauty within the messiness of life. Change is inevitable and evolution is all that’s happening. Thus, learning is continuous throughout life, even when you’re called to play the role of a teacher. With a daily meditation practice, learning becomes more intuitive and less intellectual as the mind remains present to what is, and the clarity of insight sharpens within.

  2. Be consistent and self-motivated even when it’s easier not to be. You have to be your own leader when you’re your own boss. Diligence with your daily self-care practice and dedication to the cause you’re serving are both essential. It’s a balancing act between the two. Don’t let the cause overtake your self-care. Don’t let your self-care overtake the cause. Your self-care practice is there to make you more capable of serving. The cause is there to give you purpose and relevance. As motivational inspiration, envision your future self 10, 30 or 50 years from now and make them your hero.

  3. Sacrifice who you are for who you wish to become. Turning your caterpillar self into a butterfly is a process that involves letting go of what you believe defines you. It can be emotional and vulnerable at times, but also incredibly uplifting and liberating. The method and speed at which you move through this process of spiritual growth is up to you. The key is not to resist the process, but to sweetly surrender and get into it. Trusted guidance from a teacher who’s walked the path before is essential. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from experts. It’s also important for the process to elevate your dignity, for the fear of your dreams coming true can hold you back if you believe that you can’t live up to it or that you don’t deserve it.

  4. Trust in the organizing power of nature. Life challenges can teach you how to persevere through self-doubt and discouragement. They can also show you how to adapt and respond gracefully in the face of any obstacle. When life throws you a curve-ball and things don’t go the way you expect them to, trust in the bigger picture that everything is ultimately working out in your favor. Trust that nature knows best how to organize and allow the universe to handle the details. Try that on and see how it feels. You’ll find that the need to be right and the need to control specific timing or outcomes begins melting away. It’s in the letting go of these thoughts that nature’s support is given. Letting go becomes second nature with meditation as it releases the stress that triggers the mind to be reactive and controlling. The meditated mind can more easily take pause, problem solve, and respond effectively in a challenging situation.

  5. Align your actions with nature’s intent. Nature supports and empowers you to thrive when you let go of your thoughts, listen to nature’s intent, and align your actions accordingly. Starting with meditation retrains the brain to automatically let go of thoughts that keep you in your head. A calm mind allows you to see nature’s intent through the subtle desires arising in your heart. Give these subtle desires the opportunity to inspire your actions everyday, instead of being driven by an agenda in your head. The mind is meant to follow the heart, not lead the way. The outcome of acting from your heart is a daily experience of peak mind and flow state.

  6. Bring fulfillment to your relationships rather than needing to be fulfilled by them. It can take time for the intellect to fully adopt this perspective especially when we live in a society that tells us otherwise. However, you can experience true unconditional love in so many of your relationships because of it. The mind has been conditioned to believe that happiness is coming from outside of you when the source is within you all along. Your relationships are a reflection of your relationship with yourself. When you take personal responsibility for this and uncover unconditional love within yourself, then love reflects outwardly into your relationships. Better relationships always begin within.

Rishikesh, India 2016

Thank you friends, family, teachers, and colleagues who’ve played a part in my journey thus far. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the insights I’ve received from my mentors, and without my community sharing their encouragement. Don’t be afraid to give honest advice or a kind compliment to the people in your life. Truthful words are influential.

And remember: everyone is here to carry out impactful work for the benefit of humanity. When you hear your call, don’t hesitate. LEAP. Leap out of your comfort zone and say YES to the path less traveled. The world needs your greatest gifts. They are already within you, but they can only shine through if you seek, inquire, listen, and leap.

4 Lessons from a Bike Accident

 
Biking Freedom
 

Ever since that first moment of freedom as a 5 year old on two wheels, bicycling has been a source of instant joy for me.

For the last decade, the bike has been my transportation of choice. One of the draws to live in New York City was being able to commute without a car. So when I’m in car-bound California, I get my fix mountain biking the trails of my coastal hometown. Riding through the redwoods with views of San Francisco is nature’s version of Disneyland. The beauty is awe-inspiring.

The other week we had one sunny day between rainstorms, so my dad and I decided to go for a ride up Mount Tam. My approach to the trailhead that morning was a bit cocky. I was feeling more confident than usually after my last ride the week before where I hauled down the mountain like a pro, or so I felt. I also hadn’t meditated yet.

We crossed the wooden bridge at the trailhead, which was slick from the recent rain. I wasn’t aware that the thick treaded wheels wouldn’t grip, and so I lost complete control of steering. My body flipped over the handlebars and tumbled down a boulder rock retaining wall into the creek gully with the bike on top of me. Thank god I was wearing a helmet. It all happened so fast.

As I came to a stop my dad yelled, “Don’t move. Is anything broken?”

I didn’t move. I took a deep breath, and realized I was okay. “Is the bike okay?” I asked. The bike was unharmed.

Holy $#*t. How did I not hit my head, break any bones, or destroy the bike? I walked away almost unscathed, with only a few leg scrapes and a 4-inch gash across my left shin. I got off scot-free.

Witnessing the shock setting in, I decided it was best for my body to rest. We rode home slowly. Once we arrived, I cleaned up the cuts, showered off, and had a nice long meditation to reset the body chemistry.

Reflecting on this experience, I was reminded of four valuable lessons…

1. Be grateful for being alive and well

Walking away from the accident, I was so grateful that I barely got injured. I’m grateful for my yoga practice keeping me flexible and strong, and for my dad for being there to make sure I was okay. (Always mountain bike with a buddy, and a helmet!)

I’ve found gratitude to be a natural outlook from daily meditation, but an accident can really highlight what you take for granted. The importance of physical fitness and family hit me hard, literally. I’m grateful I’ve chosen to invest a lot of time in these values. Cultivate self-care habits and making time to evolve my relationship with my family wasn’t a smooth road. It’s an evolving process, and has been worth the many years of daily dedication.

2. Listen to what the body needs

After standing up from the fall, my old self would’ve wanted to push through and keep riding. Instead, I took a moment to silently check in with my body, and it told me it needed rest. So I followed that instruction. The rest from meditation helped me come out of shock quickly so I could enjoy the rest of the afternoon back at my baseline of bliss.

Rest is typically viewed as weak in our culture. There are times to push through, and there are times to take it easy. I see real strength as intuitively knowing the right moment for each. The ‘go, go, go’ mentality can cause you to forget that rest is an action too. It’s a subtle action to prepare the body for dynamic action. Meditation in particular is an efficient form of rest that’s deeper than sleep. It’s like a fuel-efficient hybrid car idling at a stoplight on its electric motor to conserve gas.

Meditation can also enhance your ability to listen to and follow nature’s cues more clearly. Perhaps if I had meditated before the bike ride instead of after, I would’ve picked up the subtle cue to slow down over the wet bridge, and the outcome would’ve been different.

3. Pain can occur without suffering

When I was cleaning up the leg wound after the ride, I noticed the pain, but also the lack of suffering. Mentally I felt at peace and was able to feel the pain without it conquering my thinking. Certainly, a leg wound is much easier to handle than most injuries. Still, it was a reminder that suffering is a state of consciousness not a physical condition.

My old self would’ve gotten stuck in a bitter state of self-loathing the rest of the day. Self-pity can happen when you’re way too attached to an outcome that doesn’t turn out the way you anticipated. I could’ve gotten stuck in thinking that I was an idiot, a victim, that I made a terrible mistake, or that I was unworthy of riding again. All those thoughts came up for a split second, but I was able to let them go just as quickly.

Meditation has taught me how to let go of any unproductive thought the moment something doesn’t go as planned. I’ve learned to trust that nature knows best how to organize and to take each moment as it comes. This trust is rooted in the experience of your inner nature, which is bliss. Existing at all times in the background of thinking and action is a state of Being that is pure bliss. When consciousness grows, the mind becomes more aware of this unbounded state of supreme contentedness within. First it happens in meditation, and then it occurs in the eyes-open waking state too. When the mind is fully established in this state of silent witnessing, then the equanimity of inner peace becomes difficult to disturb even with physical pain present.

4. The body is impermanent and not our true identity

Watching my wound heal, I’m reminded that the body is constantly changing at every moment. Skin regenerates itself every 27 days or so. The skin you have now is not the same skin you had a month ago. This is true for almost every organ and bone in the body, but at different regeneration rates. Bones, for example, take 7-10 years to fully regenerate.

If life, relationships, jobs, places, and perspectives are always changing, and the body is also always changing, then who are we? What are we?

There is one unchanging constant that I know of, which is the inner state of Being, mentioned before. This state of Being is experienced when the mind slips into the gap of silence between thoughts. The mind is alert and awake without thinking. In Vedic Meditation, it’s common to experience this state beyond the body.

Have you ever noticed your hands or feet ‘disappearing’ in meditation? Essentially, you’re losing spacial sense of your limbs; you’ve transcended the physical self without yet transcending the thinking mind. As soon as you wiggle your fingers or toes, the brain detects the spacial location of your hands and feet right where you left them.

This is one indication that consciousness is not body dependent. Bodies however are consciousness dependent. We can have an experience of consciousness without the body, but not the body without consciousness. What we are is consciousness having a body experience, rather than a body having an experience of consciousness.

The more we identify with our true nature as pure consciousness (or Being) rather than the body, the easier it becomes to ebb and flow with the changes of life. We can enjoy the roles we play with our jobs and relationships, and living in this body and on this planet with less attachment because our fulfillment is rooted in Being rather than thinking. Realizing this power and the magnitude of consciousness can be quite humbling, and brings me back to gratitude. How about you?

5 Tips for Blissful Travel

 
Capture
 

Flying used to give me such anxiety that I dreaded the idea of going to the airport. The ticket booking, the packing, going through security, and boarding the plane was a surefire way to get my cortisol shooting through the roof.

Meditation changed all that. It keeps me calm before, during and after travel, and also helps reduce jet-lag. Now I look forward to flying and find being 40,000 feet in the air surprisingly blissful.

Flying not only affects the mind, but is also tough on the body. The rapid change in elevation, the 500 mph plane speed, the increased solar radiation exposure, the drop in atmospheric cabin pressure, the electro-magnetic frequencies and radiation from the plane technology, and the turbulence (not to mention the dry, cold, recycled cabin air) all combine to make a rather demanding energy suck on the body. This makes it much harder to adapt to change without going into a stress reaction.

To mitigate the negative effects of travel, here are 5 recommended actions that I’ve found to work well for me. I’m on a plane at least once a month and wouldn’t be able to keep up with so much travel without these 5 tips. Try them out, and let me know how it goes for you!

1. Join the Mile-High Meditation Club

Have you meditated on a plane yet? It’s pretty awesome. There’s something quite peaceful about meditating 7 miles up. It’s a total game-changer for those longer flights because it boosts the immune system so you’re less susceptible to catching a cold, and it boosts energy to mitigate post-flight exhaustion and reduce jet-lag. Something about transcending in meditation helps reset our internal clock so we can get in the right timezone more quickly.

This year I flew to Europe and India with virtually no jet-lag on both trips. I timed my meditations during the flights to give me energy to stay awake at the right times so I could adjust to the new timezone upon arrival. The general travel strategy is to meditate during take off, for periods of time throughout the flight, and during landing. The longer the flight, the more you can meditate. Because flying is so demanding on the body, it’s one of the times I recommend meditating more than twice a day and for however long you wish. For example, if you’re flying between NYC and SF, you might meditate 6 or 7 times — once at take off, 4 or 5 times inflight, and once again at landing. There’s nothing like arriving at your destination freshly meditated. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

2. Bring a Hot Water Thermos

Hydrating with hot water is your second best friend while traveling. Put an empty thermos in your carry-on bag. Then before getting on the plane, visit a coffee shop in the terminal and kindly ask them to fill your thermos with hot water. Bring it with you on the plane and sip on it periodically throughout the flight. Hot water is very calming and soothing for the nervous system.

It’s best not to drink hot water from the airplane because the water quality is so poor. The right thermos is also important to consider. Glass with a protective sleeve is ideal. Stainless steel is the next best option. Plastic and aluminum containers are to be avoided due to potential toxicity leaching.

3. Protect your Nose, Fingers and Toes

Protect your nose from airborne toxins and dryness by applying a drop of nasya oil in each nostril. This is something I practice everyday whether I’m flying or not. I’ve found it to be super helpful especially in the winter when we’re most susceptible to airborne illness. You can learn more about different types and proper used of nasya oil HERE.

For your fingers and toes, wear a pair of thick socks, extra layers and a warm hat. You never know how cold it might get, especially on those longer flights. If you’re too cold on a plane it increases anxiety and compromises your immune system so you’ll be more likely to get sick.

4. Fast and B.Y.O.B. (Butter, that is.)

To optimize your body’s energy, it’s best to minimize digestion while flying. Fast from food and stick to water (hot and room temp) while flying if you can. Before you get to the airport, have a nice hot meal at home (like this oatmeal or this kitchari). In case you get hungry or don’t want to fast, bring healthy snacks with you that are grounding, easy to digest, and easy to travel with. Soft fruits like bananas and organic nuts butters work well.

Now if you really want to try something unique (and I find super helpful), bring a small container of organic ghee with you (less than 4 oz.) and put a teaspoon of it in your hot water inflight. This will nourish and ground your nervous system like nothing else. The healthy fats in ghee do a body good!

5. Book a window seat

We live on a magnificent planet. Sitting by the window is a wonderful opportunity to earth gaze and appreciate the beauty. Notice the vastness of nature. How many shades of blue can you detect? What cloud formations are occurring? Perhaps there’s a sunrise, a sunset, or city lights to admire? Let the beauty stimulate your senses. The ombre fade of a rising or setting sun helps recalibrate our circadian rhythm. It can also have a wonderful calming effect, drawing out the bliss from meditation into the eyes open waking state. Plus, you never know, nature might just put on a fabulous show for you.

 
IMG_5433.JPG
 

Travel Tips Step-by-Step:

1. Have packed and ready in your carry-on:

  • Empty thermos

  • Nasya Oil (less than 4 oz container) - Purchase Here

  • Organic Ghee (less than 4 oz container)

  • Organic Snacks: bananas, almond butter, pistachios, etc.

  • Warm Layers: thick socks, sweater, warm hat

2. Meditate before you arrive at the airport (at home or on the way in your cab ride)

3. Make sure thermos is empty before security check

4. Fill up thermos with hot water at coffee shop in the terminal

5. Put a teaspoon of ghee to melt in hot water

6. Meditate through take off

7. Hydrate, Earth gaze, meditate, repeat

8. Meditate through landing

HUNTER'S OATMEAL RECIPE

Every morning I like to break my fast with a hot bowl of homemade oatmeal. I find my body enjoys the nourishing and grounding quality of this Ayurvedic detox oatmeal after morning meditation and yoga.

 
IMG_7093.jpg
 

Below is the recipe I adapted based on several recipes I've learned from expert Ayurvedic practitioners over the years. This unconventional method of toasting the oats and spices is a process I learned from Divya Alter from her book What to Eat for How You Feel. This book is my kitchen bible.

Please enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Ayurvedic Detox Oatmeal

Serves 2-3

Organic Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup of organic oat flakes

    *To make your oatmeal with steel-cut oats, add at least 1/2 cup more water in Step 4. It will take 10-15 minutes longer to cook. To speed up the cook time, soak steel-cut oats overnight and drain them before cooking.

  2. 1/2 cup of organic barley flakes - Shiloh Farms Barley offers great quality

    *Barley has a cooling quality and acts as a binder of toxins in the colon and blood, it regulate blood sugar for 10 hours after eating, it lowers cholesterol, and is abundant in fiber.

  3. 1/4 cup tapioca pearls (aka cassava root)

    *Tapioca binds toxins so that they leave the body through the digestive tract (instead of the skin, which causes breakouts).

  4. 1 tablespoon of ghee - Ancient Organics Ghee is my favorite

  5. 1 tablespoon of Sweet Masala

    *See recipe below.

  6. 1 or 2 medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped (I like to refrigerate them for easier chopping).

    *1/4 cup of Thompson raisins can be used instead

  7. 1 cup of spring water - I like to use Mountain Valley Spring Water or Saratoga Spring Water.

    *Spring water is ideal because it’s pure, vibrant, and energizing. Tap water comes with additives, chemicals and heavy metals, which are not only toxic, but can also make us feel sluggish. We can filter out most of these toxins, but the vibrant energy (known as prana) is lost due to the toxins.

    Not all water is created equal, so try spring water and see how your body may respond to it differently. I’ll explain more about our relationship with water in a new post soon.

    Also, avoid plastic bottles as much as possible. The recommended spring water above comes in glass. If you can’t get your hands on spring water, then filtered tap water is a-okay.

    Sometimes as a pre-breakfast, I will peal and slice a pear or apple and boil it in spring water before starting the oatmeal. Then I eat the warm, soft pear/apple slices and use the boiled pear water for the oatmeal. This is an Ayurvedic practice that properly stimulates digestion first thing in the morning.

  8. 1 cup of fresh, organic, grass-fed, un-homogenized (cream-top) whole cow’s milk*

    *You can use fresh almond milk as a dairy alternative.

    Like water, not all milk is created equal either. Fresh, raw milk from a local organic dairy with a grass-fed Jersey cow herd (or similar A2 breed) is ideal, but not easy to come by these days. I’ll explain the benefits of proper cow’s milk in another post soon.

    The best sources of cow’s milk I can find at grocery stores is Saint Benoit in the Bay Area and Sky Top Farms in NYC, or even better there’s a raw dairy source I can connect you with in New York (message me for more info).

Sweet Masala:

Makes about 1/2 cup

These spices help to break down the carbs, sugars, and milk in the oatmeal.

Put all ingredients in an electric grinder or spice mill and grind into a fine powder. Store in a dry, airtight jar away from light.

  1. 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds

    Fennel regulates digestive fire by increasing weak fire and decreasing overly strong fire. It also promotes breast milk flow.

  2. 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds

    Coriander improves digestion, offsets spicy foods, relieves gas, is diuretic, calms the mind, binds toxins in the blood, and protects the gut from acidity.

  3. 2 tablespoons of dried rose petals or rose buds

    Rose soothes the heart, balances the mind, slows down aging, rejuvenates the digestive tract, liver, and colon, and promotes glowing skin.

  4. 3 teaspoons of crushed cinnamon bark (Ceylon is excellent)

    Cinnamon improve circulation, relives coughs and colds, helps with glucose and carbohydrate metabolism.

  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons of green cardamom seeds (without the pods)

    Green cardamom calms nerves, aids digestion, freshens mouth, helps with protein metabolism and chronic cough.

  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract powder - Kiva Vanilla is a great source

    Vanilla is a natural aphrodisiac, and improves appetite.

  7. Optional: 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

    Turmeric cleanses the liver, breaks down fat in the liver, improves digestion and immunity, is an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and adds luster to the skin.

    Turmeric is a powerful herb that is very heating and only needs to be taken in small amounts. It’s best taken in it’s dry form and cooked with water, fat and protein in order to bind the turmeric for a steady delivery to the cellular system. Otherwise it can overwhelm the liver and cause the liver to release too many toxins at once creating a “detox crisis,” which if not taken care of properly can result in autoimmune conditions. Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid using raw turmeric root, juicing with turmeric, or taking curcumin capsules.

  8. Optional: 1 teaspoon of Ashwaganda powder

    Ashwaganda has similar adaptogenic properties as Korean ginseng. It provides one with the stamina of a horse—physically, mentally and sexually, by making the nervous system more resilient to stress.

  9. Optional: 1 teaspoon of Shatavari powder

    Shatavari provides mental and emotional strength by balancing hormones for both men and women, but especially for women. It supports fertility and libido, cools down an overheated, fiery mind and body, and is said to give the eyes a long healthy life. It also helps the brain by improving learning, retention and assimilation of knowledge, and recall.

Process:

  1. Pre-soak the tapioca pearls in 1/2 cup of spring water

  2. In a small saucepan or pot, heat the ghee over medium-low heat. Add the sweet masala and toast until the ground spices release their aromas within the first 20 seconds or so. (Do not let the spices burn. If they burn, start over).

  3. Add the barley and/or oat flakes, stir well, and toast for another minute, allowing the flakes to absorb the ghee.

  4. Add 1/2 cup of water, then the milk (adding milk first might curdle it), soaked tapioca, and dates.

  5. Stir and bring to a full boil.

  6. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the grains are cooked and creamy. Stir occasionally as the tapioca may stick to the pot as it thickens. You may need to add more water or milk if it becomes too thick to your liking.

  7. Turn off the heat and serve hot.

Recommended Proportions:

  • If the weather is hot or your body is running hot, use more barley flakes and less oat flakes.

  • If the weather is cold or your body is running cold, use more oat flakes and less barley flakes.

  • If the weather is cold and muggy or your body is feeling sluggish, use more barley flakes and less oat flakes, and use more water, less milk, and less ghee.

  • If you have IBS or celiac, use only certified gluten free oats. Do not use barley, as it naturally has trace amounts of gluten. Barley has many healthy benefits and typically doesn’t affect digestion negatively when you have a health micro-biome.

What to learn how to make this in person with Hunter?

8 Meditation Myths Debunked

 
 

When I first became curious about meditation 10 years ago, I thought, “Where do I start? Do I have to become a monk and shave my head? My mind is crAzy — what if I can’t do it or it doesn’t work for me?” I was an anxiety stricken, over-analytical insomniac who clearly needed to meditate.

When I was first introduced to the idea of meditating, I had many preconceived notions about how it worked. They all turned out to be myths that were actually holding me back from learning and developing a daily practice. Once I learned about Vedic meditation from a trained teacher, the promise of meditation finally became accessible to me. It was a great relief.

So then, let me debunk 8 of the most common meditation myths for you. Perhaps it’ll help you get started with your daily practice too.

 
Meditation Myth 201704-1.jpg

Myth #1: You have to sit still with perfect posture

When you learn Vedic meditation, you get to sit comfortably with your back supported and your arms and legs in any comfortable position. No perfect Buddha poses necessary (What a relief!). You can also adjust your position during meditation; there’s no need to be a statue (thank god).

With Vedic meditation in particular, we’re not required to have perfect posture because this technique works better in a relaxed upright position. Forcing perfect posture can cause strain and engage the mind in thinking, rather than activating the benefits of deep rest and relaxation. So sit back and enjoy!

Meditation Myth 201704-2.jpg

Myth #2: You have to stop your mind from thinking

Thankfully, thoughts are a part of the meditation process. Thinking is completely natural and one of several legitimate outcomes of correct practice. If this weren’t true, there’s no way I’d would’ve been able to do it myself.

Did you know, the average person has anywhere between 50,000–70,000 thoughts per day? Our minds are designed to think, just as our hearts are designed to beat.

A flood of thoughts will arise during meditation after the body has purified itself of some stress. We welcome the release of stress so that we no longer hold onto it and can then enjoy the benefits meditation brings during the day. The clarity, creativity, energy and happiness that comes from meditating is experienced after meditating when stress has released from the body. 

 
Meditation Myth 201704-3.jpg
 

Myth #3: You have to focus

Some styles of meditation require focus and concentration, however in Vedic meditation we do not focus or concentrate. This was such great news when I first learned about it. It’s the perfect technique for us ADD, creative, super busy and over-analytical types. Instead of meditation being another task for us to do everyday, meditation becomes a time for us to let go of all the busy activities we experienced.

When we practice Vedic meditation, we silently repeat a personalized mantra in an effortless way, and spontaneously the mind is able to transcend thought without trying. This technique makes daily meditation approachable and doable for us busy, modern people who already spend so much effort focusing throughout the day. 

Meditation Myth 201704-4.jpg

Myth #4: It takes a LONG time to get good at it

Great news: your mind naturally knows how to meditate already, but has simply forgotten how. The course in Vedic meditation helps to retrain the intellect so you can allow the nature of your mind and body to move through the natural process of meditation every time.

During the course, you learn how to properly meditate using a time-tested technique. It’s a very easy, natural process with a simple set of instructions that only requires an open mind.

Meditation Myth 201704-5.jpg

Myth #5: It only works in a quiet, peaceful place

There’s no way anyone could meditate in Manhattan if this were true.

It’s possible to learn how to handle noise and interruptions during meditation so that you can do in a taxi, on the subway, a hotel lobby, park or airplane and still enjoy the benefits.

Rather than needing a sanctuary, you can learn how to become the sanctuary so that you can stop, drop and meditate anywhere you feel safe and comfortable.

Here’s the Meditator's Map to help you start exploring.

 

 

Meditation Myth 201704-6.jpg

Myth #6: It’s the same as exercise or making art

Biking and drawing are two of my favorite activities, but they don’t produce the same benefits that meditating does. When we meditate we experience the benefits of stress release through de-excitement of the body, rather than activity that excites the body.

Vedic meditation effortlessly triggers the mind into a state of deeply rested wakefulness (deeper than sleep, yet alert inside). This de-excitement allows for deep-rooted stress to purify from the nervous system.

Elevating the heart rate through exercise or focusing the mind in a creative project doesn’t provide the same depth of restfulness. People who meditate daily report having higher quality experiences while exercising and making art, so meditation can bring even greater joy to your favorite activities.

 

 
Meditation Myth 201704-7.jpg
 

Myth #7: It’s selfish escapism

I had 99 problems, and then meditation solved like 92 of them. I used to think meditation was a way of escaping your problems, but it’s actually the opposite. Instead, meditation melts away stress and all the irrelevant “would’ve,” “should’ve,” “could’ve” and “what if’s?” circling in the mind.

Also, it’s important to note that the purpose of meditation is not to get good at it, but to get better at life. Meditation reduces stress and gives us the ability to handle difficult situations more calmly and solve problems more quickly.

This enriches the quality of our day-to-day life, our work and relationships. When we enjoy life more, it positively impacts everyone we come into contact with. In this way, meditation becomes an selfless act of service for yourself and others.

Meditation Myth 201704-8.jpg

Myth #8: You have to change your lifestyle or beliefs

When you learn Vedic meditation, you are not required to change anything about your beliefs or lifestyle. There’s no dogma involved in learning or benefiting from the technique. Vedic knowledge is truly universal and all-inclusive.

Did you know that meditation is both spiritual and scientific?

Vedic meditation is a spiritual technique, which means that it gives you a direct experience of your essence — that which exists beyond thought and beyond the senses. Imagine if you were to remove all thoughts in your mind right now. What would be left is your essence. It’s the gap between your thoughts.

Meditation doesn’t work on the level of faith or trust, but direct experience. We approach it as research without needing to believe that it’ll work. Like a scientific study, we follow a specific procedure to see what evidence shows up as a result of carrying out the research of twice daily practice.

 

Curious to learn more? 

Join Hunter for a free Intro Talk

HUNTER'S KITCHARI RECIPE

Kitchari (pronounced: Kit-chaar-ee) is like the “Chicken Noodle Soup” of Ayurveda. It warms and comforts the mind, body and spirit. It's a cleansing and nourishing dish that can be made all year round. It's great to make kitchari when your digestion is off or your nervous system is overstimulated.

 
Kitchari
 

Below is the recipe I adapted based on several recipes I've learned from expert Ayurvedic practitioners over the years. 

Ayurvedic Kitchari

Serves 2-4

Organic Ingredients:

  1. 1-2 heaping Tbsp of ghee (Ancient Organics Ghee is reliable and high quality) - SOURCE

  2. 1 cup of split yellow mung dahl (easier to cook and digest than whole or sprouted mung) - SOURCE

  3. 1 cup of white basmati rice (long grain)

  4. 1 Tbsp of cumin seeds

  5. 1 Tbsp of fennel seeds

  6. 1 Tbsp of coriander seeds

  7. 1 tsp of mustard seeds (less or none in summer)

  8. ¾-1 tsp of ajwain seeds (less in summer)

  9. ½-1 Tbsp of fresh ginger, pealed and grated or finely chopped (less in summer)

  10. 1-2 Tbsp of turmeric powder

  11. ½ tsp of black pepper

  12. ½ tsp fresh hing powder/asafoetida without additives (optional, strong flavor as an alternative to garlic and onion) - SOURCE

  13. 1 Tbsp of minced fresh curry leaves (optional)

  14. Optional: organic vegetables such as zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and leafy greens. Avoid starchy vegetables (such as potatoes) as they don’t digest as well with legumes.

  15. 7-8 cups of spring water (or filtered water) for rice cooker, up to 16 cups for pot (add as needed)

  16. 1-2 tsp of soma salt - SOURCE (or Real Salt - SOURCE)

  17. 1 fresh lime

  18. Bundle of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves

Process:

  1. Wash mung and rice thoroughly until water in clear.

  2. Optional: soak in water between 1-8 hour.

  3. Boil water in pot and add salt. Turn on medium-low once boiling.

  4. Strain and wash mung and rice.

  5. Add mung and rice to boiling water.

  6. If using a rice cooker, skip steps 3-5 and start cooker with mung and rice in water. [recommended cooker]

  7. Optional: add fresh chopped veggies (better for lunch when the digestive fire is strongest). Night shades such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are not recommended as they increase inflammation.

  8. Scrape off and discard foam.

  9. Close to when the mung and rice is cooked (approx. 25-35 mins), in a separate pan, add ghee on medium heat.

  10. Cook cumin, fennel, coriander, ajwain and mustard seeds in ghee until the seeds start to pop. Then add ginger. Do not burn the seeds.

  11. Turn off heat, then add turmeric, hing and black pepper and mix well.

  12. Add cooked spices to mung and rice and mix well.

  13. Add optional curry leaves.

  14. Continue to cook and stir for a little while on low-medium heat. You may need to add more water until desired texture like a creamy risotto or porridge. Do not burn the bottom of the pot.

  15. You may add an extra teaspoon of ghee in cold winter months, unless you’re feeling heavy and sluggish.

  16. Serve in bowl.

  17. Garnish with fresh lime and fresh cilantro/coriander leaf.

Recommended Proportions:

  • If you have diarrhea or inflammation in gut → 2 parts rice, 1 part yellow mung

  • If you’re feeling depleted or constipated → 2 parts yellow mung, 1 part rice

  • If you’re in a balanced state → Equal ratio of mung and rice

  • If you're having kitchari for dinner, then it's best to not eat anything after for full medicinal effect

Would you like to learn how to make this in person with Hunter?

In Response to the 2016 Election

 
 

 

8 Tips for How to Respond

 

1. Give what you wish to receive. Be the change you wish to see. When we give time to our meditation practice, it gives back to us the energy, clarity, creativity and fulfillment we need to personally address the greatest need of our time. Leap into the unknown, lead with love and become radically inclusive.

2. Increase your consciousness. Vedic meditation is an incredibly effective and effortless tool for each of us to upgrade our own state of consciousness on a daily basis. Don't underestimate the power of this technique when you practice everyday. When we meditate we are not only benefiting ourselves, but we are also raising the average state of collective consciousness. In this way, meditation is a form of selfless service, of Action hardly done to subtly, but significantly contribute to progressive change. Continue getting to the chair twice a day, if not for yourself, then for the world.

3. Take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions. We must take personal responsibility for what we are experiencing. Blaming someone else for your own experience puts you in a tailspin of the ever-repeating known. To progress and transform we must learn the lessons in front of us and adjust our thinking to then take the next right action.

4. See things for what they are and stop ignoring what you know. Develop your ability to see what's coming with greater accuracy. To do this, we must follow that intuitive charm-like feeling arising within after meditation. Don't allow your intellect to drive your decision-making. When in doubt, meditate and see what comes to you afterwards. This takes time and practice to master.

5. Continue expanding your awareness to see the full picture. We must transcend our limited perspectives through meditation (not media) and step outside of our bubbles to experience a larger view of the world. Only then can you see things for what they really are.

See major media for what it really is: a hypnotic tool to influence the behavior of the masses for profit. One day they tell you a walnut tree is producing walnuts, then next day they tell you the same walnut tree is now producing mangos. Do not be fooled by the rhetoric used to wash over and normalize bigotry.

6. Create grassroots change. The leader of any country is really a follower of the collective, a reflection of the people. We need to change the collective, not the leader. The change first begins with us taking personal responsibility for our own state of consciousness, then we can inspire others to do the same.

7. Lead by example. Continue meditating everyday and spontaneously you become a great example of a higher consciousness state. The world needs more of this and you have the tool to do it. The few lead the many and as daily meditators we naturally come into playing this leadership role within our communities. By being your freshly-meditated-self, you will inspire friends, family and colleagues to also uplift their own state of consciousness. This is a grass-roots effort we can so easily and independent engage in everyday to make our world a better place.

8. Be happy from the inside out. Don't allow the world around you to inform what you are. True happiness is not dependent upon external circumstances. Allow your inner state of Being to inform what you are. Bliss is your baseline. Awaken unconditional fulfillment from within and Act from that place.

Recommended Reading

 
 

Please enjoy these books to support your meditation practice. While meditation is our tool for upgrading our ‘hardware,’ knowledge becomes our tool for upgrading our 'software.' Both technique and knowledge go hand-in-hand to develop your full mental potential.

WELLNESS & LIFESTYLE


SCIENCE-BASED READING


VEDIC TEXTS


The Meditator's Map

Find a Place to Stop, Drop, and Meditate in NYC or SF

Noise and location are no barrier

You are the sanctuary

Comfort and safety are key

 

 

FIND IT ON THE MAP

TMM Map Key.png

OR

SIT ON-THE-GO

 
 

3 Simple Steps to Become a Daily Meditator

Become self-sufficient in meditation, receive expert instruction, personalized support, and connect with conscious community.

 
 

STEP 1.

ATTEND A FREE INTRO TALK

Learn about the neuroscience behind why this technique of meditation is so powerful. There is no cost to attend and no obligation to join the course. This is a chance for you to meet Hunter, learn how the course works and get your questions answered.

 

STEP 2.

TAKE THE VEDIC MEDITATION COURSE

During the course you'll learn the Vedic Meditation technique for life. You'll receive a personalized mantra and learn how to use it correctly. You'll learn the strategy to blend daily meditation into modern living and how to meditate anywhere safe and comfortable. You'll also learn about the mind-body dynamics of meditation and the hallmarks of personal growth with daily practice.

 

STEP 3.

ENJOY A LIFETIME OF GROUP MEDITATIONS, SUPPORT & COMMUNITY

Gain lifetime access to our free group meditations within our worldwide community. You'll also have access to retake the course as many times as you'd like and be able to check in with Hunter whenever you have questions. You also become eligible for advanced courses.