A couple weeks ago I went to my first guided meditation class. I’ve been really curious about meditation for a while now. I’ve been reading up on some of the benefits of meditation, the biggest draw for me is the reduction in stress, but there’s actually a number of other benefits that are just as amazing. This article from Healthline sums them up perfectly:
Benefits of Meditation:
- Reduce Stress
- Controls Anxiety
- Promotes Emotional Health
- Enhances Self-Awareness
- Lengthens Attention Span
- May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
- Can Generate Kindness
- May Help Fight Addictions
- Improves Sleep
- Helps Control Pain
- Can Decrease Blood Pressure
I think it’s safe to say that everyone has some added stress in their life that they could probably do without. I’ve been looking for a way to relax and calm myself after work (that doesn’t involve Happy Hour drinks!) My work day is actually 13 hours long; from when my 5AM alarm goes off to when I walk in my front door at 6PM. Over half of my day is work-related (and that includes getting ready for work and my commute time). It makes for a very long day, and let’s be real, there’s not a lot of downtime in the evenings. I was looking for a way to help deal with the stress that comes with working full time. Meditation has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years and it was something that I really wanted to try but was unsure how.
I attended a meditation studio in Toronto called Hoame. They have a few different classes available to choose from. I went to a 30 minute class in their dark room, which is designed to relax and restore you (which of course is perfect after being in the office all day!) I really liked having a guide; having someone remind you to focus on your breath, to continue to breath, how to breathe, taking longer inhales and longer exhales, etc. I found the actual guidance to be extremely helpful and beneficial, especially for someone who has never been to any type of meditation class before.
The one thing that I did find was that I was scared to allow myself to get “lost” within myself, if that makes any sense. Picture this: you’re sitting in a pitch black room and you’re focusing only on your breathing and your guide’s voice. It’s almost a hypnotic experience and hypnosis terrifies me!! So I didn’t want to allow myself to go too deep. My mind also kept wandering to the move Get Out and the scene where Daniel Kaluuya’s character is sitting in the armchair but then gets sucked into the void by his crazy girlfriend’s mom. So I kept pulling myself back and I think/hope if I went a few more times I would get over that fear and allow myself to give over fully to the meditation and allow myself to be in a completely meditative state.
I did notice that I was swaying with my breath; moving with my inhales and my exhales and that was completely involuntary. I’m not sure if that’s a byproduct of practicing yoga for the last 6 years, so already having an understanding of what it means to move with my breath, but I thought it was really cool that despite the fact that I didn’t want to let my mind get lost I was able to allow my body to flow on its own with itself.
After the class there was no immediate “zen” moment and I naively thought there would be. It’s not like you left feeling like you just lost 10 lbs of stress, but I could definitely notice a difference and I could see how developing a regular meditation practice can be beneficial in reducing overall stress. It was definitely calming. I did leave feeling a bit more relaxed than I normally would be after putting in a full day of work.
Guided mediation is something I would for sure do again. Overall it was a really, really cool experience and something that I’m really glad I did and something that I’m going to continue to practice.