Digital access to meditative silence
It’s about 8 pm on a chilly fall night and my mind is almost empty. Surrounding me are men and women sweating from holding physical poses for the last hour. They all have their eyes closed; each is attempting to achieve the exact same thing—stillness.
A man with a well-groomed salt and pepper beard, loose-fitting white T-shirt and black mala bead necklace is sitting at the front of the room with his feet resting on opposing thighs.
His name is Rameen Peyrow and he is leading us in the moment. Behind him is a massive bronze statue of the Hindu God Shiva (the Cosmic Dancer).
“You may notice that Shiva is standing on a demon,” he says. “This demon represents ignorance. This could be one of the disturbances that needs to be engaged and resolved in one’s own mind.”
The room falls into silence for about 30 minutes.
Peyrow cherishes silence. It’s his favourite music.
He’s always had the idea to offer teachings of meditation to the world, and after meeting Calgary photographer Clayton Didier, it became a reality with the Science of Self app.
The app guides users in meditation accompanied by alluring visuals and binaural sounds. It is geared to be an immerisve meditation program that helps the user slowly integrate the principles of meditation into their lives.
Peyrow and Didier met at a retreat with some of Peyrow’s students in British Columbia’s Bugaboo Mountains. Didier had no idea that Peyrow’s teachings would change his life.
“I was at a very dark point in my life,” Didier says. “I had just left my family, and things like torment and addiction were consciously inspiring me and my work. My caring friends abducted me by driving me out to the mountains where I was forced to sit for a week with this funny bearded guy who turned out to be Rameen.”
Didier talked with Peyrow about the chaotic path he had been following.
“He would tell me to walk with him and, when I would refuse, he would do something like sit next to me in child’s pose for eight hours of silence and then tell me I was going to be okay,” says Didier.
Didier went back to Edmonton with Peyrow and moved into his basement, where they practised Sattva— a new form of meditation and yoga merging the ancient practices of Hatha and Raja yoga with the universal mantra and sound of truth, known as Aum.
“Sattva is the question of who are you and why you’re here,” Peyrow explains. “It’s when the mind focuses its attention to attain balance and equanimity.”
Didier took the guiding esoteric principles of Sattva even further and applied them to his design business. He then began working with Peyrow to develop the Science of Self app, releasing it this past September.
Although he now lives in Calgary, Didier talks to Peyrow several times a day.
“Rameen is here for people,” Didier says. “He is the constant contemplation of self. He’s here to liberate and that’s what he did for me. That’s why I knew we needed to create Science of Self.”
Meditation has been a part of Peyrow’s life since he was five-years-old. He remembers growing up in Calgary and watching his father Kaymar and his mother Lynn meditate together or alone.
Even at such a young age, Peyrow was interested in what they were trying to achieve.
“I would go to their room, close my eyes and my mind would be wandering,” he describes. “I would find myself crawling on them or distracting them, but I really wanted to just sit and experience what they were experiencing.”
One day, his father decided to pass on the meditation technique that he learned from his father, something that Peyrow would later pass on to his son Sage.
“I remember the day like it was yesterday. He said ‘Okay Rameen, today is the day you learn how to meditate,’ and he told me that every time I had a thought, take it, put it on a cloud, and watch it float away.”
As he grew older, he would sometimes meditate for hours on end and, following his father’s advice, eventually began practicing physical poses at the age of 17.
Much like his meditation, his interest in yoga and its philosophy grew organically over time.
“It makes sense now that I think about it,” he explains. “My mom practiced physical postures while I was in her womb so there’s that depth of memory inside.”
As a young man, Peyrow studied yoga in Mysore, India, for seven years under yogi guru Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, founder of Ashtanga, one of the most popular forms of yoga, and embraced by millions of Westerners.
While in India, he not only learned different styles and techniques, but also the vast history of yoga that pre-dates Hinduism.
Now 37, Peyrow takes pleasure in condensing thousands of years of yogic history into only a few short and concise sentences.
He may be an esteemed teacher who has touched the lives of people like Didier, but this was not his goal when he started his yoga studio. He wanted to share his knowledge for only a brief amount of time and raise enough money to go back to India.
“I was going to the caves,” he says. “I had a map where theses rishis (Hindu sages) were living across from this glacier and I was going to go see them.”
Now, after releasing Science of Self, his plan is different. In fact, it outlasts his life.
“I have a 300-year plan. I want this school to be something that people can take confidence in and when I’m gone I want it to be passed down,” he says. “This is the pioneering stage for western yoga and we need to facilitate that growth not only for the practitioners, but the community of yoga.”