‘What I learnt from meditating with Shaka Zulu’: tips for finding your inner zen

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Meditation is hard but local author Dale Hefer has learnt some tricks that have helped her stay in the moment. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/ Getty Images)
Meditation is hard but local author Dale Hefer has learnt some tricks that have helped her stay in the moment. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/ Getty Images)

Everyone is always banging on about the benefits of meditation. Although local author Dale Hefer admits she’s hopeless at it, she isn’t ready to give up on it just yet. In this fun extract from her new book she reveals the unconventional techniques she uses to still her busy mind.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you silly. Unlike the barrage of movie stars and other celebrities who seem to think that we are all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to hear about the joys of their meditation programme, I am hopeless it at. Here are some tips that have worked for me.

Keep it short

I’ve done a meditation course myself and have spoken to lots of people who meditate regularly. It seems that 20 minutes twice a day is the recommended dose. NOT. I propose you start in two-minute slots. Hopefully, like my running approach to Comrades, this will increase with time and practice.

I once had the delightful experience of meditating with Henry Cele. For those of you who don’t recognise the name, Henry, who sadly passed away a while back, was that spectacular-looking actor who played Shaka Zulu in the TV series. At the time I was working on a film set as a gopher.

The film was being shot in Margate on the KZN South Coast. One of my jobs was fetching the actors from the airport in Durban. Henry, one of the actors in the movie, and I became close. 

The first time I fetched him, he asked me what the plan was for getting him into his room at the hotel. At first I didn’t understand, but then I realised he was asking whether there was some kind of back entrance to avoid fans.

I smiled to myself, thinking that this fellow was pretty vain, but I could not have been more wrong. When we arrived at the hotel, we were mobbed. Word had got out that Shaka was on his way and a crowd of several hundred had gathered as we arrived. Henry was 1,9 m tall and I’m no shorty, so luckily we managed to heave and push and get him safely in.

One night at the hotel, one of the actors was having a meditation session in his room and invited Henry and me to join. After precisely two minutes, I opened my eyes and saw that Henry’s were also open. We nodded at each other and quietly sneaked out. So don’t put yourself under pressure. Start with a two-minute goal.

Have a mantra

They say that, when meditating, you should acknowledge all your thoughts as they come in the front door but then let them straight out the back door. If you have some kind of mantra, repeating it will help you to focus. I find that a mantra doesn't need to be a bunch of fancy Sanskrit words determined by some hippie in a flowing skirt amid the chimes of gongs. It can just be a word. Love. Happiness. These are good words to repeat.

Look within

Now, sitting comfortably in my own mind, I watch myself from above as a separate entity. I look for that spot just behind where the bottom ribs meet. That place where you generally get a knot of stress or a lurch of excitement. The solar plexus. For me, a lot goes on there – it is a complex system of radiating nerves.

From my position on high, I picture my solar plexus as a warm, glowing colour. It is a warm island. Your work here is to focus only on that glowing island and slowly imagine the river of thoughts dividing on either side of that island so the glow becomes bigger and more visible.

Keep doing this until the torrent becomes a stream on either side. Keep focusing on that warm island while repeating your chosen mantra.Try this for two minutes a day and see whether your thoughts eventually disappear. If you can focus on Solar Plexus Island exclusively, even for a few seconds, you are present. It’s a wonderful feeling.

This is an extract from Hustling, Happiness and a Blow-Up Doll Named Percy by Dale Hefer

What it’s about: What do the knees of a deputy president, a blow-up doll and a model with big nipples have in common? They all taught the author valuable life lessons. This book tells moving personal stories from Dale Hefer’s life: from an award-winning marketing career culminating in becoming businesswoman of the year to her ongoing battle with alcohol and provides key lessons and essential life and business tips. For example, why everyone needs a ‘Percy’ (a creative idea or simply the drive to do what one must to get things done).In addition to her own conclusions, Dale draws on the wisdom of her favourite philosophers – the Stoics, business partners, friends and, of course, her mom, to make some sense of this strange world. - SOURCE: Jonathan Ball


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