As with all things new, showing up is the first and most important step. Not a lot of people know that quite often I find myself inside my head, second guessing most choices I have made in past and trying to convince myself that every mishap is a learning opportunity. I normally combat my internal dwellings by working out, writing out my feelings or even addressing letters (meant to be un-sent) to those who have negatively affected me, and of course I talk/overshare certain moments until my friends tell me how annoying I am. Meditation has always been of interest to me, but I haven’t pursued it because of three things: I didn’t have the time, some classes are quite costly, and I practice yoga which I apologize for thinking is similar to meditation.
Thanks to Taedra and her insatiable thirst for current events, I was informed that this week September 26 – October 2, 2016 is Meditation Week 2016, where you can attend free classes in any borough of New York. You all still have time to get started in your practice to self-discovery. Every session is designed to cater to both beginner and seasoned students, and taught by the experienced pupils of Master Sri Chinmoy.
We attended the Monday night one at CPR – Center for Performance Research located off the L train at Graham Avenue. What neighborhood? You guess it- Williamsburg! Prior to meeting Taedra there, I was thrown into a tiff with a fellow train passenger. We collided into each other when we arrived into a corner coming from opposite directions. Instantly, I apologized while he proceeded to tell me to watch where I was going. I had a long day and instead of taking the higher route, I argued that he should also watch where he was going. Tensions escalated when he cussed at me using profane words that degraded my ethnicity and gender. In response to that, I told him in harsher words to go “love” himself. Yes, just like Halsey’s version of Justin Bieber’s song “Love yourself”. Needless to say, I knew Jesus presented me with what I needed and meditation would help me get back on track with a peace of mind.
This was my first time meditating and my initial fear was that I was going to fall asleep and make a donkey of myself. I also thought we were going to be sitting cross-legged on comfortable pillow. I was wrong on both accounts. We were warmly greeted by the coordinators and escorted into a ballet rehearsal space where we had to take off our shoes. There were at least 5 lines of 20 chairs and in front, a panel of stands and instruments.
This is the only picture I took at the event. We didn’t feel like it was the place to take a lot of pictures. You know, we had to be “in the moment” and respectful of the space we’re in.
The first meditation was the most difficult to get into. We had to sit with both feet on the ground, back straight and hands unclenched on our legs. This is the posture we had to hold ourselves during all 3 forms of meditation. We had our eyes closed as well and had to make sure we remained alert as the first teacher guided us with a narration of a serene nature scene. For me, the trouble was trying to keep my shoulders from drooping and focusing on her words. I spent the majority of the meditation fighting off the stressful thoughts of my job, my lack of a love life and the pesty past. The process allowed me to acknowledge my habit of dwelling in my negative thoughts and that I need to stop blaming my past actions and be more in the present.
After this session, I wanted to go home already to be very honest! I felt lighter from the previous experience, but still so very tired. I also had a lamb gyro as a quick on the go dinner and my stomach was rumbling. HINT: I was uncomfortable and ready to be in the privacy of my own home. The second teacher transitioned us to a breathing and exhalation exercise. Similar to the first method, we closed our eyes and sat upright but this time, we followed her lead and echoed her words. This proved to be my favorite practice of the night; every time we “ommed” or repeated certain phrases, I could feel the vibration of the words and felt soothed. And, it was easy to get lost in the chants and be in the moment. I almost felt like the ritual let us release all the tensions we had during our whole day.
As for the final meditation we were instructed to focus on one variable in the room, which was the carnation on the stand. We had to observe the plant for at least 5 minutes. And then we closed our eyes and surrendered ourselves to the teacher’s guide to “dig deeper” into the flower. We had to imagine what it was like to be transported inside the carnation. Taedra told me she envisioned herself sliding down the stem while I saw myself inside a secret room of the plant lying on a hammock. You can totally tell who’s the lazy friend of the group.
After these wonderful teachers showed us these different techniques of mediation, they ended the event with an original performance that displayed their love for meditation. It was a mixture of spoken word and folksy chants. I really enjoyed the whole thing! I could see they genuinely have taken this practice as a part of their everyday and they’re so content because of it. Taedra and I wanted to clap after they finished, but unfortunately no one else did so we just smiled and air clapped out of sheer respect.
From this experience I don’t know if I could make meditation as a part of my daily routine, but most certainly I would like to take 5 minutes to myself and let go of thoughts that don’t add to my well-being. I do believe that meditation makes you more self-aware and mindful of not just how you feel but also how you make others feel as well.
Peace for now, guys! Remember you still have time to attend one of these classes. Enjoy!