My Meditation Practice & MNDFL Studio Review
I recently went to MNDFL, a meditation studio, for the first time. I can't wait to go back. My friend Holly and I have both been into meditation for a while now so we make efforts here and there to go on "Zen-dates" to meditation classes or events. One of our previous zen-dates was attending the Big Quiet event in Central Park. I introduced Holly to the app Headspace around 2 years ago. Since then, we've both been meditating with the app and absolutely love it.
My meditation history: I started meditating around 3 years ago when one of my old coworkers recommended doing it for 5 minutes in the morning before work, after I expressed to her that I was having trouble focusing / ADD. At this point I was doing it on my own...basically just sitting and watching my breath, without any guidance (such as from the Headspace app). I started with 5 minutes a day and (believe it or not) worked my way up to 30 minutes a day. Looking back, it sounds crazy that I was doing it for so long, especially since now I only do it for 10 minutes. However, I know that when I was meditating for a longer amount of time, my meditations were "deeper." I read in one of my meditation books (I don't remember which one) something along the lines of if you just swim at the top of the sea, you'll only see some of the fish, but if you swim deeper, you'll see the cool exotic fish, similar to the way that if you meditate for longer, your experience will also "go deeper." I never had any type of crazy spiritual awakening but I do remember feeling very connected to my meditation experiences and also that time always flew and it never actually felt like 30 minutes.
Eventually I switched gears and started using yoga exclusively as my meditation but it wasn't the same. It's different when you're focusing on both your body movement and your breath, as opposed to just your breath. I started back up with headspace and have been using it ever since. I typically meditate with the app 10 minutes in the morning on weekdays. While I would love to devote more time to my meditations, I'm probably the busiest I've ever been right now and as much as I hate this excuse, I simply do not have the time. I do hope that one day (maybe after the wedding) I can increase my time and work back up towards 15, 20 or if I'm lucky, 30 minute meditations but for now 10 minutes is better than nothing!
Why I meditate: Meditation teaches me so much about myself. The thoughts that I don't realize I'm thinking are much more clear during meditation (because I'm noticing them and then shifting my focus back to my breath). Meditation creates a space where my brain fog can at times, disappear and I can see what's going on below it. Some days, I'm completely focused and some days I'm completely distracted, but all days it's a time for me to step away from the grind and give my mind some time to reset. I definitely think that it makes me more aware of where my head is, and also helps me stay present, in the moment and focused (something I've always and still do struggle with).
The MNDFL studio was a great experience. First of all, the decor is neutral colors, some exposed white brick, plants, and just very zen AND they have Rishi tea to enjoy (fo free!). It's very different when you're meditating with a group of people. Something about doing it together helps me stay focused. Naturally, my mind will always wander to thoughts, but remembering that others are there doing the same thing, coming back to the breath from their thoughts helped bring me back. Also hearing other subtleties such as people sniffling, moving/shifting their seated position, taking a deep breath etc. confirmed to me that all of these things I do during my meditation are normal. The class that we took was a sound based class with calming sounds of crystal singing bowls. I really liked having the sound element added to my experience. Instead of coming back to my breath from thoughts, I came back to the sound which seemed to be circulating the room. Some of the other classes that I want to try are breath, mantra, heart, energy and emotions. It was also interesting to chat with Holly after about how different our experiences were. We heard different sounds (I heard a flushing toilet bowl at one point and Holly definitely did not) and our minds were in very different places (my mind was running through my to-do list "wedding-blogging-work" while Holly was hiking and fantasizing of her favorite vacations...in between our moments of prescence of course).