My name is Daria (friends and family call me Dasha). I was born and raised in the South of Russia and was always fascinated by Eastern philosophies. I wasn't bad at languages and math and my interest in education brought me to the U.S. I received my formal education in Economics, Art History and Finance. Regardless of my professional associations, I keep an open mind towards cultures and spirituality. I am an avid traveler and love exploring traditions.
I have been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade now and discovered meditation shortly after my introduction to asana practice ( I practice Vinyasa and Ashtanga styles). Yoga practice gives you a strong healthy body. But your mind is where it all starts and yoga is not just a physical exercise. You practice the asanas to get yourself ready to move further - to meditation. The goal is to keep both mind and body in the best possible condition - healthy and strong. And to prepare yourself to sit still for extended periods of time.
I went on to complete a 10-day silent meditation course in India, where I got introduced to an ancient Vipassana meditation. I stayed in the beautiful Northern Himalayas, a place called McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala where Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile reside.
Imagine this: you stay together with a group of people at a secluded area, usually hidden away from a big city. You wake up every day at 4:00AM, observe the rules of "Noble Silence" and practice to stay focused for at least 10 hours a day, for 10 consecutive days with breaks for meals and some personal time.
Everyone does it for various reasons. I had my reasons too: I wanted to learn a respectable meditation technique that I could use in any situation. I also wanted to see how I'd feel without speaking to anyone or without having any connection to an outside world (no electronic devices, no contact outside of a designated area) for 10 days. The practice required discipline, patience and strong determination.
It was a beautiful experience. Challenging at times, but it was worth every minute. Academic education aside, this was the most challenging, yet the most rewarding test I have ever put my brain to. If you can find the time out of your life to experience it - I cannot recommend this highly enough.
I have the deepest respect towards any knowledge or practice that has been around over 5,000 years (possibly even longer). But I also believe that one should form an opinion towards anything not by following any dogmas or rituals blindly but by having a certain knowledge or by having experienced it. This is what life is about - living through different experiences and choosing what works best for you, what makes you happy. For me - happiness is the ultimate goal in life.
You can gain knowledge on three levels: theoretically (read a book, become familiar with a concept), intellectually (understand and accept the concept) and experientially (by actually doing it, by experience). The knowledge you gain on an experiential level is the deepest and most valuable one.
We all have different personalties and there is no single method that works for all. That is why there are so many techniques out there. You should find something that works right for you. And once you find it - stick to it and practice it diligently. Because as I much as I believe in magic, I believe in the power of human will and the capabilities of a human brain above all. That is what meditation does for me.
And what does meditation do for you?