Train the Trainer: Meditation

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We are on a mission to try different sports and activities we have never tried before. Previously we have tried rowing and aerial yoga but this month we decided to mix it up and try a guided meditation class. Both of us do yoga fairly regularly but our practices tend to be more physical. We have been trying to teach our clients about being mindfulness and the benefits of meditation so we figured we should try it out ourselves! We went to a guided meditation class at the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is typically used as a way to transform the mind and bring balance to it. There are numerous different types of meditation including sound meditations, walking meditations, breath meditations, etc. Meditation can help bring calm or energize the mind but it takes a lot of practice! Meditation is central to many religious practices, and most people associate it with Buddhist teachings and yoga.

Thoughts Going Into Class:

Lauren: I’ve never done a guided meditation class before but I’ve done lots of yoga and I have some relaxation tapes I use. I’ve found during longer meditations in yoga my back starts to hurt if I’m sitting the whole time but it’s better if I lie down. Hopefully I can find a position on my back! This class is also at 7am so I hope I don’t fall asleep.

Kelsey: Oh no! If you remember when we tried aerial yoga I’m not very good at focusing my mind. My mind likes to wander and I find I spend a lot of effort trying to bring it back to the present moment. I think I’m going to have a lot of difficulty with this activity. However, I’m fully aware its something I need to work on and have made it a goal to put 100% effort into it. I’ve listened to progressive relaxation recordings and have found them helpful as they give me something to focus on. I’m hoping a guided meditation class will be similar. I’m not a morning person so this 7am class should be interesting.

Thoughts After Class:

Lauren: The class involved 3-4 different breathing exercises. I liked the variety because it kept my mind engaged and there were different physical or visualization cues that helped centre my mind and keep it from wandering as much. The position I was in wasn’t great and my legs kept going numb – not at the same time of course. I found I could focus on the breathing really well unless a leg became painfully numb and I had to shift positions. At one point I was super relaxed and started to fall asleep a little bit and almost fell backwards off my bolster (oops!). I didn’t take my contacts out before the class and towards the end they had dried up and were superglued to my eyeballs. If you wear contacts I highly recommend glasses instead of contacts for this class.

Kelsey: It was interesting. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more than I thought I would. Our instructor was great. He did an excellent job of providing physical and visual cues to focus our minds. I had no idea what to expect going in but found the “mindfulness” parts easier than normal. I really appreciated that he took different approaches to cueing the class. I was surprised which cues resonated with me. The visual cues made so much more sense than the physical cues. I wonder if part of it was actually due to being at class at 7am and my brain hadn’t woken up yet. The biggest problem I found was I got uncomfortable about fifteen minutes into the class. My one foot fell asleep and both hip flexors started cramping. At first I was able to ignore the discomfort but the longer we went on I was too uncomfortable to stay focused on the meditation. There were two ladies in the class with us and they were kneeling on little benches. If I were to do this again I would definitely follow their lead and kneel on either bolsters on those benches.

Final Verdict:

Lauren: Although it was very different from what I’m used to I think I would try it again. It definitely takes a lot of practice and it’s more challenging when there is less going on. I don’t normally like chanting and there was one breathing exercise that involved chanting through the chakras. It was a little strange but it seemed easier to let go and join in with the class than in a normal yoga class.

Kelsey: I definitely think I would do meditation again. It would be a great tool to help with my anxiety. It’s definitely something I would need to try more than once to decide if it would work in my life. Knowing myself I think signing up for a meditation course, either a retreat or a weekly registered program, would be best for me. If I stuck to drop ins, like this one, I would start to come up with excuses and barriers. Just like with any new skill you work at it to become proficient and have it become habit.

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