While most brides-to-be rush to beauty clinics and salons as part of their wedding preparations, Komal Parnami, 26, took to spirituality. She opted for energy facials, meditation, chakra and aura cleansing treatments to get a flawless skin and fire element treatment to enhance her curves.
“I chose spirituality as a beauty treatment to enhance my inner beauty so that it permanently reflects on my looks,” says Parnami. “On the one hand I was inundated with compliments for my glowing skin; on the other, the inner peace helped me bond better with my new family members.”
Similarly, in a bid to enjoy better health, Ananda Anaam, a former pharmaceutical professional, took to food meditation. The concept entails giving attention to each morsel that goes in your mouth. “In our fast-paced lives, we eat but don’t give heed to what we are eating,” says Anaam, who now holds free food meditation sessions to share the benefits of mindful eating. He picks up raw ingredients directly from villages of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. “Though we eat every day, we are rarely present with the food. We hardly give meals and ingredients the respect and time they deserve,” he says.
One food meditation session has about 20 participants and it goes on for about two hours. Meditators gather at a quiet place, take off their footwear, switch off their phones and sit on the floor around a big table where food is served. The meal, which is cooked by Anaam and his wife, Sangita, includes red rice, pinkish amaranth rotis, potato vegetable, jaggery and mountain pulse. During the first hour, people meditate and eat quietly, unlike the common habit of having a conversation or watching television while eating. The next hour is dedicated to sharing the experience of concentrating, engaging and reflecting on what you eat. “Apart from physical and emotional wellness, it inculcates a better sense of balance and well-being in people and impacts their entire life,” says Anaam.
Spiritual happiness is no more about relinquishing materialism but a way to enjoy materialism to the hilt. And that’s not it. If the goals are interesting, the new breed of seekers wants the pursuit to be innovative, too. So, meditation is no longer just sitting quietly to achieve thoughtlessness, chanting mantras or singing religious songs.
Meet Delhi-based choreographer Chittaranjan Nayak, who opted for creative dance movement and Sufi whirling meditation sessions for anger management. “It is an everyday ritual to read a bedtime story to my four-year-old daughter. But one day when she didn’t pay heed to what I was reading, I got angry, which scared her and brought tears to her eyes. The incident impacted me so much that I decided to turn to spirituality to control my temper, as everything else had failed,” says Nayak.
Aimed at releasing tension and repressed emotions, creative dance movement meditation involves trying different body movements and giving full attention to each one of them. It is this awareness that makes dancing meditative and starts mirroring one’s inner self and the world around him. Likewise, Sufi whirling entails twirling anti-clockwise with your right arm directed upwards and left arm downwards, focusing on God through music and movements. “Compared with conventional forms of meditation, dance-based sessions are more creative and engaging. That is why they attract people. Who would mind being spiritual if it is fun,” says Nayak.
“Gone are the days when spirituality was related to old age and abandoning worldly pleasures. These days people turn spiritual to enjoy material life fully,” says Purva Nagpal, head of programmes and festivals at Delhi-based cultural centre Zorba The Buddha, which keeps organising such innovative meditation courses. Recently, a Happiness Mela offering spiritual courses, satvik food, music and dance performances took place here.
This explains why Nagpal couldn’t restrain herself from attending some of the courses like the AUM meditation where, with the help of body movement, role-play and vocal expression, participants are made “aware” of different human emotions like sadness, anger, hatred, love, respect and laughter. Similarly, Chakra Painting meditation allows people to understand and experience the seven chakras or energy centres of the human body using painting as a meditative tool. “Each chakra has a distinct shape and colour,” says Nagpal. “During this session, each participant is given blank sketches. Focusing on one chakra at a time, they have to paint them in their respective colours. It is an enjoyable meditative experience.”
Dr Madhu Kotiya, who specialises in spiritual energy healing, says people have understood that instead of finding temporary fixes for their issues, it is important to find permanent ones. “So, they have turned to spiritual happiness, which is the most effective, noninvasive and natural process of finding happiness,” she says.
Another indicator of this growing demand of attaining spiritual happiness via entertaining meditation exercises is Krishna Lila, an infotainment theme park being constructed by ISKCON Bangalore in Mathura. Using high-tech digital robotics, the theme park will have temples, entertaining activities and rides, high-end residential complexes and eateries. And, spiritual healer Kristna Saikia is going to come up with a spirituality-inspired fashion show in Mumbai.