Shreya Chugh, an Art of Living teacher for youth courses and an avid adventure sports enthusiast, shares with Eben Felix her love for the sport and how meditation has helped enhance the thrill for her passion.
Standing high on a rock…high enough to smell the clouds…a bungee tied to your feet…you stand right on the edge, looking down at the beckoning earth…with arms wide open…you are about to confront gravity…you smile and take a deep breath…and then, you let go, the breath and yourself… into a free fall…
It’s a different space, the world of adventure sports. You see and experience realms of nature which are quite hidden on the ground. You see creation— untouched, pure, magnificent and sparkling in its glory. You see a panorama that leaves you breathless and spellbound. You also come in touch with the deepest of your fears and the inhibitions of the mind which, when surrendered, dissolve like a speck of cloud in the sky.
There is another space, where you see and experience the untouched and unblemished realms of your consciousness. A space beyond the chaos of your mind. A space quite unknown to the state of gross reality of mundane life. A pure white space of silence and the spirit where you dissolve. That is the space of meditation.
And, when you couple meditation with adventure sports, what you experience is the melody of divine nature.
Exploring the connect
Adventure sports, meditation and life are synonyms to Shreya Chugh. She has tasted the melody of divine nature. She has scaled the highest of mountains, explored the thickest of jungles and ridden the wildest of rivers. She has seen nature through the eyes of eagles, butterflies of the deep rain forest, and the nocturnal creatures of underwater. And meditation has only enhanced this feeling of absolute splendor.
“I went river rafting once,” Shreya reminisces, “in the Ganges, one of the wildest of waters for rafting in the world. I was at the front most of the raft, a place for the most daring of the lot. It was my first time. When I saw the power and the rawness of the Ganges rumbling under me, what I felt, unlike others, was absolute belongingness. I was at ease and one with the water. She was me and I was her. That’s what meditation does: it not only increases your belongingness to people but also makes you one with nature.”
Meditation: Adding an extra edge to adventure
“While doing these wild and crazy daredevil sports, you have to be in a state of absolute awareness and alertness. Your intuition has to be polished and at its peak. Meditation does just that. It brings you to the present moment, enhances your focus and tunes you in sync with the inner and outer world. After which, there is nothing to experience but completeness and the enjoyment of the moment.
Breath is that which tunes you with nature. It connects you to the outside. It keeps you in tune with the rhythm of air, water and space. Simple breathing techniques help you get rid of your fear. Deep ujjai breathing is the secret and the key while you are rappelling down rocks or diving underwater. Diving in the Caribbean Sea was special for me,” she smiles.
“Life underwater reminds me that there is so much we don’t see otherwise. It’s a different world. So is meditation. It shows you the world of your soul, unnoticed in the humdrum of life.”
Shreya’s secret to good health
When the organizers of an event (rappelling down the highest single rock in Asia, to mark the 50 th independence of India) came to her college, Shreya was the first to raise her hand. “Are you sure you want to do it?” they asked her, looking at her lean short physique. “Yes,” she said. To their surprise, the preliminary medical tests found her in perfect health. Ask her how, and she says, “It’s only because I practice yoga and meditate. It has an amazing effect on the body. It keeps you in shape, increases your stamina, regulates your blood pressure, and keeps you absolutely healthy.
There is something else that you experience - protection - of the divine nature. Just like a rope holds you when you rappel down, there is a divine hand that holds and protects you through these acts and in life. This protection you only experience when you’re one with God and his creation, when you meditate.”
An innocent surrender
There are so many aspects and layers to meditation and how it prepares you to indulge in adventure sports. “Meditation brings out the childlike innocence from within you,” says Shreya, “and that is exactly how you should look at the mountains before scaling them, and the ocean before plunging into it. Facts, figures, too much information, remove the fun and also bring in fear. But when you surrender to nature with complete innocence, it surrenders back to you, nothing can touch you, nothing! This is what adventure sports enthusiasts miss. They have a physical guide but they don’t have a spiritual one. They have the enthusiasm but they don’t have that innocence. They feel the adrenaline rush but there’s a subtle feeling from inside which they don’t feel.
Only if you love nature, will you get into adventure sports. Meditation enhances that love, it connects you with the universe. It makes you centered and gives unconditional support. It completes me,” she smiles.
Courses or adventure: the same feeling
Shreya is also a teacher of the Art of Living. She loves kids and has taught yoga and meditation to thousands of youth. Often, her courses are in the laps of the Himalayas and in the bosom of nature. “We derive our strength from you,” the kids often tell her.
“You know,” she says, “the feeling I get when I'm doing these crazy sports? That’s the same feeling I get when I teach the Art of Living courses. It’s beautiful. That is the reason why I don’t really miss adventure sports when I'm not doing it. I'm already complete, and always on a high.
‘Make your life an adventure,’ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had once told me, that’s exactly what I'm doing. Next, I want to experience Kailash Mansarovar!”
Meditation is like free fall, a free fall within yourself. Except that you’re not falling, you’re floating within the purity of your spirit. Once you experience that, the creation outside is just an extension of that world within. It is utterly beautiful!
Inspired by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's wisdom talks
By Eben Felix