My New Year’s Resolution: Try something new.I am pleased to say that my 2015 New Year’s resolution was realized by returning to my yoga practice at Live Lotus. Last year I vowed to find a home at a new studio, and I am beyond grateful to have found one that I love. Lucky for me, as I set the above intention for 2016, the stars seemed to align yet again; the women at Live Lotus had recently begun Chill Yoga & Meditation sessions at the studio. I decided that building a meditation practice would certainly be more fulfilling than some of my other ideas for “something new” - and honestly a habit “aimed to deepen your focus, declutter the mind and enhance your overall well-being” sounded like something I needed in my life. I invite you to follow my journey and thoughts about my first few meditations below. Maybe it will inspire some beginning yogis to explore meditation in the New Year as well - or perhaps remind you seasoned practitioners of your first experiences.
My first time
As I stepped into the studio for my first (ever) meditation, I wondered for a moment if they had somehow enchanted the room. The lights were low, with the galaxy projector switched on and sparkling across the ceiling and down onto the walls. Incense were burning, filling my lungs with their rich scent as I breathed in. Extra candles were scattered and dancing around the perimeter of the studio; I thought I could actually feel the warmth of their glow upon my skin from the middle of the room. The air seemed to crackle with possibility. You know, that giddy feeling you get as you try something new? Excited but unsure of what exactly to expect…I settled on my mat and watched as class began. While Sarah handed out yoga straps for the gentle stretching that preceded our meditation, Rosey came around to individually thank us for attending that Sunday. When it was my turn, she knelt down next to me, grasped both my hands, grinned and whispered “Thank you for being here today”. Honestly, I have no idea how I replied. I think I said something like “Thanks for having me.” She had caught me a bit off-guard, as I suddenly understood that I was as grateful to myself for being there as she was. The class dove right into some easy yoga (piece of cake), but I found myself struggling immediately upon moving to the guided meditation. I was calm, there was no doubt about that; but I was having trouble focusing and following along with the prompts and imagery they presented. I felt a flash of anxiety come over me, which was ultimately concern that I was doing my meditation “wrong”. Ridiculous right? About the last thing you should be worried about in life is messing up your meditation. So I caught my breath again and attempted to relax, to see where my mind took me…and to my surprise, it started to work. Of course, my thoughts wandered a bit more before class was over that afternoon, but I followed it where it wanted to go and found calm that is very rare for me. I was ready for more.
ProgressNo surprise, I was back a week later. I held onto the lesson from the week prior as I rolled out my mat for “Round Two”: I often feel a lot of pressure when trying something new, but the only real pressure that exists is pressure I put on myself. This second Sunday class was not dramatically different from the first; however I felt much more confident and capable of conquering my racing thoughts this time. I silently promised not be so hard on myself. Just being there on my mat was enough, no matter how much I could quiet or focus my mind. I felt even better this time. I felt safe (likely because I had physically wrapped myself up in a little cocoon made from the blanket the instructors had distributed for during the silent meditation). I listened to the soundtrack of nature sounds, peace seemed to swirl around me…at least until a little chime brought us all back to reality at the end of class.
Just remember, practice makes progress…not necessarily perfect.
Third time’s the charmThe theme of my third meditation was “Technology”. I don't know about you, but I secretly rejoice when instructors set a theme for class. Since I often struggle to set my own intentions for both my yoga and meditation practices, I am always grateful for a prompt from the instructor. Such a focus particularly helps me rein in my thoughts during meditation sessions, when there are not movements and postures to center my energy. As class began, Sarah encouraged us to imagine ourselves as one of the “Smart” devices that we hold so dear in 2016. I love this analogy. Our phones and fancy tablets, etc. are brilliant machines, but every now and then these devices start acting up (some more than others it seems), prompting their user for a reboot or upgrade to get things running smoothly again. How is the human mind any different? We took a few minutes to come into our breath and simultaneously attempt to "Close" all the “Applications” running in our human brains. But let me tell you, I was doubtful that I could close all the “Apps” open in my head (not to mention the “Tabs” within them) before class was over. The Sunday To-Do List App, the Working Girl App (yes, already planning my Monday at the office), the Plans for Next Weekend App, my Sister’s Bridal Shower App and that What will I wear for my date on Friday? App…just to name a few, were indeed all running at once. I wondered if either Sarah or Rosey, as they glanced around at their peaceful students, spotted the effort showing on my face as I attempted to shut it all down. As I was about to surrender to my frustration, Rosey quietly suggested the idea that each of us has the power to heal and transform ourselves…”Reboot” and “Upgrade”, if you will. It was so terribly obvious, but it took being compared to a computer to really understand: Meditation is the “Reboot” before the “Upgrade”, a time to check-in with your true self and listen to what you need before you “Crash”. You are the only one who knows what you need and when. A regular recharge or reset is essential for each of us to be our best self in both the present and future.
Moral of the storyEven though many of us attempt to reinvent ourselves in the New Year, it seems clear that our time would be better spent getting to know who we truly are and treating that self well, rather than trying to be someone new every time that January 1st comes around. I challenge you to be good to yourself in whatever your 2016 journey holds, through both the light and the dark - and perhaps a little meditation along the way will help you find your truth. Namaste. Xo, Ellen
“Live Lotus celebrates the individuals who not only overcome everyday battles, but looks to conquer themselves from within.”