People meditate for countless reasons; for example, some mediate to help them sleep better, while others do it as a way to feel more in-tuned with their body and their emotions. After reading up on all the benefits of meditating, I decided to meditate with my boyfriend and attend a physical class, rather than rely on an app alone.
For my boyfriend Zach and I, meditation hits close to home. Back in March, Zach's cousin Samantha (Sami) passed away from cancer. Sami had always relied on staying mindful and grateful for anything and everything she had. Pre-cancer, Sami taught yoga and meditated daily. After she passed, Zach and I made a pact to practice gratitude, stay mindful, and meditate in her honor.
For thousands of years, people across the world have relied on meditation to help them de-stress and be in the present. According to Psychology Today, archaeologists have discovered evidence of meditation in wall art found in the Indus Valley dating as far back as 5,000 to 3,500 BCE, and it's a practice incorporated into several religions. However, in this day and age, I often find my mind running off from the present moment, instead worrying about the future. In other words, in 2018, it's always about "what's next." And it's tricky to focus on the present and stay mindful and grateful.
Although Zach and I have both tried meditation apps before, neither of us have ever attended a meditation class. So we headed to the Manhattan studio INSCAPE for a class called Heart: Gratitude 35. The class is 35 minutes long and costs $26 for a single session. I'm not going to lie here, we had a really lazy Sunday, and at first, I really didn't want to leave my bed. But, it was so worth it. As soon as we entered the studio, staff shook our hands and welcomed us to the space. We went on a mini tour of the space after speaking with the studio manager, and then and then took our shoes off, put our phones down, and got ready to enter the class.
Before entering the dome, we were given a dab of Uma oil (made with all natural ingredients!) to help us ~focus~. When Zach and I made our way into the dome, we grabbed two spots on the floor towards the left side and ended up sitting within an arm's length of each other. The room was super quiet and the few people who were already in the dome before us were already meditating, so there really was no mingling or conversing. It was a bit strange at first, as I'm a very chatty person and hate silence. However, it was nice to have the few minutes before the class started to get situated.
Instead of being led by a live instructor, the class was lead by an audio recording of a peaceful narrator telling you what to do, how long to hold your breath, and what not to do. There were two INSCAPE employees in the dome, and they served as facilitators. Essentially, the two staffers partook in the meditation, and I looked to them for reference whenever I was off beat or wasn't sure if I was doing a movement right. The class took place in a beautiful, colorful dome, and the space itself was as welcoming as it was aesthetically pleasing.
Once we settled into the class, we started out with deep breathing exercises. It was tricky at first to sync my breaths with the rhythm, but I found myself getting the hang of it pretty quickly.
My favorite part of the class, however, was when it was time to imagine four people in our heads: someone we really love, someone who we like but don't know that well, and someone we find "challenging," and then ourselves. The goal was to provide all of these people (including ourselves) with the same positivity, love, and light. Zach and I both found this to be empowering; it felt like we were letting go of a weight while also learning to be the "bigger person." We then took a moment of silence to let everything sink in, while being mindful of the world around us and using our compassion to make others feel happy. Once the class ended, it was certainly a struggle to leave the dome. Zach and I both felt so calm and at peace, and were not ready for the relaxation to end.
After the class, we hung around the lounge a little bit and looked through their shop. The space itself just radiated clarity, cleanliness, light, and positivity, and I knew the second we step back out in the pouring rain in the middle of the city or New York to hop on a crowded subway, the serenity would leave us as quickly as it came. So, we decided to take our time browsing the studio, talking to employees, and eyeing different crystals in the shop.
And although a little bit of the magic was lost once we left the studio, we took with us a sense of calmness, a greater understanding of mindfulness, and the importance of living in the moment and looking at the "bigger picture" of life.
For me, it's sometimes hard to remember the importance of thinking of the "big picture." For example, Zach is going back to school to get his Master's in Education while working full time, and it's certainly stressful on his end (and mine, since he is very busy now). What's more, completing a Master's takes time (approximately two years). And unfortunately, we can't just fast-forward two years and press "play" at the part where Zach is teaching full-time — but wouldn't that be nice? I know there's nothing him or I can do about it other than express gratitude, work hard, and be there for each other be there for him unconditionally.
I'm also a part-time student as well (graduating in December), and I'm learning to balance my work life, academic life, and personal life. Obviously, this can be stressful, especially if I have an assignment due for work, and a midterm exam for school. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I tend to panic when even just a little bit of stress or uncertainty enters my mind. As a result, I end up feeling very overwhelmed and anxious as toxic thoughts begin to consume my brain. Sometimes, I'll even get nauseous and fidgety, too.
However, since Sunday, I've found that the meditating we had done in the class has allowed me to put some of this stress to the side and trust that as as partners, we will figure it out and everything will be okay because we love and support each other.
Overall, the class (and its effects) were nothing as I predicted, and in fact, really helped my boyfriend and I stay focused on what's really important (us!) and not worry about trivial events or issues.
Of course, we all have stress and hardships, and obstacles will always come up. However, Zach and I are relying on the skills we've learned from the class to help us get less worked up over small bumps in the road. Instead, we're choosing to live in the moment, enjoy each other, spread love, and help support each other through challenges and triumphs. I know it's super cheesy, but it really is true.
The second you let the "what ifs" or toxic thoughts consume you, unnecessary tension and concern will consume you. I'm lucky enough to have a supportive, loving partner and a happy, healthy relationship, and the meditation class has and will continue to help Zach and I radiate those positive vibes everywhere and anywhere we go.
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