Here’s What I Learned After Swapping My Gym Time For Meditation Classes
Throughout my adulthood, I have spent hundreds of dollars on my physical health, but probably all of $75 on mental wellness — my weighted blanket accounting for the majority of that budget.
I came to this realization after a friend introduced me to MNDFL, a New York City-based meditation studio where a $75 monthly fee (just $5 less than my Crunch Fitness membership) gets you unlimited classes and a community of self-carers.
I value my mental health as much as my physical, but in no way have I invested an equal amount of effort and resources into both.
Charmed by the ivy-covered exposed brick walls in the studios and the idea of gaining control of my racing mind, I decided to swap a week's worth of gym time for four meditation classes.
As I returned to my assigned zafu (a round cushion best used for meditation) class after class, I tried my best to disconnect from a surface-level existence as my instructors' angelic voices guided me through sound-, breath-, emotion-, and intention-based practices.
By no means did I master anything in the span of my first four 30-minute meditations, but I did take away the following valuable life skills — proof that educating and conditioning the mind is worth every penny.
Sound meditation is a great starter class.
I got my feet wet with a sound-based class, which is a fan-favorite amongst MNDFL regulars.
My POV: if I can't quiet my mind, at least I'll feel some peace from the sounds of crystal singing bowls and chimes.
It was the perfect starter session. Connecting to the vibrations and the ringing of the bowls was as relaxing as a long Saturday afternoon nap.
I may not have cleared my mind completely, but achieving that level of calmness made me feel accomplished and didn't discourage me from continuing my meditation journey.
Emotions are just thoughts with energy behind them.
My closest friends and family would kindly describe me as emotional, so it seemed like a no-brainer to explore this personality trait on a deeper level.
The Emotions meditation class was guided by a series of questions: "What does it feel like to be you?" "Does that feeling have a shape or texture?" "Where is that feeling present in your body?"
We closed the session by visualizing ourselves placing that emotion in a box, closing the lid, and setting it aside.
We weren't solving any problems, but we were learning the power of managing emotions by making them tangible.
My takeaway: the emotions we feel aren't necessarily good or bad, nor do they disappear. They are a part of who we are, but we can learn to prevent them from disrupting our productivity.
Always come back to your breath.
Through meditation, I learned the calming force that is tuning into deep inhales and exhales. Now, it's my number one defense when getting lost in my own head.
Channeling your breath as a means of controlling your racing thoughts is far from easy, despite how simple it sounds. But it's a great tool for grounding yourself and resetting your focus.
Visualizing intentions can help you accomplish your goals.
I can't sing the praises of a deep internal reflection enough.
During my intentions class, we were all encouraged to be kind to ourselves while we set manageable expectations for our internal growth.
The teacher prompted these intentions by asking us to visualize what makes us happy, as well as attainable goals we can set to enhance our own lives.
I found that picturing myself accomplishing my goals (like waking up earlier every day, for example) made them less intimidating to do in actuality.