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Stef, Melanie, Rebecca, Susan and Oxana: Some of the attendees of Meditation for the Busy Mind.

The workshop this past weekend was a huge eye-opener, which is kind of funny, because we spent so much time with our eyes closed.

The biggest lesson I learned?

We are always at our best when we are relaxed, present, and simply rolling with the flow. For me, so far, there’s been no exception to this rule.

There were challenges which I could not have prepared for. The room smelled like deep-fried pakora from a wedding the night before, and I did not bring incense (when focussing on nose breathing all day, this presents a unique problem). Lunch did not go as planned due to a brown rice malfunction, which was due to a staffing malfunction. We dove into areas I didn’t expect, and we did not touch topics I thought would be staples of the course. It was all a lesson in letting go and simply being with what is.

But the sun came out. The rain stopped. Kevin made us an incredible lunch, and looked really cute doing it. The wind blew the clouds away, and the day ended with sunshine, connection, and light where before there was darkness.

It was perfect.

Thank you to everyone who supported and attended the event. I thought I’d share some of the most common questions from the day, in case you have been wondering about meditation, and how it can apply to your life.

1. How do I make meditation a part of my everyday life?

The best way to do this is to start small. If you want to incorporate a sitting practice into your schedule, it’s nice to have a space in your home which you can sit consistently, but it’s not essential. You don’t need much space, just a pillow, ideally silence, and the commitment it takes to dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes every day, consistently. For me, this is the minimum amount of time I find to be truly beneficial. After a few days and weeks, you’ll find it will naturally be something you want to do, instead of just another task to add to your list.

2. Do you always do a ‘guided meditation’?

I do not, but I do find that it can be very helpful to use guided recordings as tools to stay consistent, and also to stay present. When I do want a recording to assist me, I generally use this one, or this one, which has some nice chanting at the beginning. I’ve also created a few guided meditations of my own for my clients, one of which I posted through here.

3. How does meditation actually help to de-stress? I don’t get it.

The simplest way I found to explain this was that we often react to our ‘perceptions’ of stimulus without questioning whether or not we are processing an event based on fact, or based on past conditioning. For me, meditation helped me understand that the way I initially perceive a situation may not be: a. true and b. the most productive way to look at it. When I learned how to observe my thoughts, I realized that I often jumped to conclusions which were extreme, and which were not conducive to my peace. Now, I feel more equipped to stay calm, focussed, and keep in mind that whatever I’m experiencing is bound to pass, so there’s no sense in reacting to it.

4. Why don’t you listen to music when you’re meditating, and why don’t you use a mantra?

There are many types of meditation, the same as there are many types of yoga. The particular meditation that I’ve found works for me does not use music or mantra to induce relaxation. The goal is not necessarily to relax, although that’s certainly a benefit. The goal is to be present with what is, free of illusion and mental complexes, and to understand through experience that everything that arises passes away. I love music, and I’m sure mantras are really great for many people. I just find that focussing on my breath coming in and out of my nose is a way of connecting to what is rather than trying to manifest a particular state by repeating a word. As for music, I listen to music to relax, not to meditate. Meditation is time for me to listen to myself.

5. How do you not fall asleep?

The five ‘enemies’ of meditation, according to Vipassana tradition, are craving, aversion, agitation, doubt and lethargy…or sleepiness. Before I sit, I usually do some deep breathing outside and get fresh oxygen in my lungs and into my body to energize me. I don’t lay down, and I try to sit without leaning and stay alert with a straight back. When I’m truly attentive, and doing my best, I find I don’t get drowsy. Then, there are times when I go back to bed and go to sleep. 🙂 Depends on the situation. If I’m well rested, I generally don’t feel the urge to fall asleep.

I hope this helps! Do you have any other questions? Leave them in the comments below.

Jenny B.

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