I went to a fun, super-informative event on Tuesday night, and before I dive into the vegan substitute meat of it, I want to give a shout-out to all the parties who made it happen.
1. Well+GoodNYC, the extraordinarily kick-ass wellness website, which organized it. Lordy I love that site, and not merely because I live a hop, skip and a jump from Gotham. The overlords, Melisse and Alexia, just really know their stuff. They have like PhDs in Spa + Spinning.
2. Red Flower, the fantastico organic beauty brand, which hosted it at its adorable SoHo shop. I need to go back when it isn’t dark, and we aren’t meditating, because the décor is amazing – all recycled chopped-up chairs and whatnot. It sounds weird, but trust me, it is groovy. That night, we were also toasting the launch of three to-die-for soy candles: in the land of milk and honey; nothing but everything beautiful; and of the wilderness, my favorite. They’re available at the shop, and at Barneys and they are yummy and very, very large.
3. Gingersnap’s Organic, a new East Village resty and shop, which catered it. A purveyor of “conscious cuisine,” all the food is raw, vegan and gluten-free. And delicious, which I’ll personally vouch for, because I ate my bodyweight in snacks.
4. Elena Brower, founder of Virayoga, who led it. A very charismatic chiquita, she is producing – and starring in – a new docuseries called On Meditation, which will air early next year on TV and the World Wide Interweb. I will keep you apprised of that; I’m dying to see the entire series myself.
Okay, so Elena’s tips, which she dispensed liberally both during and after the actual group-meditation part of the evening.
Although I’m a copious note-taker, I didn’t whip out my little pad during the session, for two reasons: One, my eyes were closed, and writing can be tricky – albeit not impossible – when your eyes are closed. And two, I just really wanted to focus, because I hadn’t yet meditated that day.
Thus, I will be paraphrasing and re-capping, rather than spewing out verbatim quotes. I hope you’re okay with that.
And since I’m feeling “listy” today, here goes:
1. You don’t need to go to a mountain-top to get into the zone. Park your –s on that couch, and don’t even think about that lone cereal bowl in the sink. Trust that you’ll get to it later. One of the goals of meditation – and I use the term “goal” loosely, because meditation is not about specific, quantifiable achievements – is to be able to drop down into it anywhere, any time.
2. Place your left hand over your heart and let your thoughts drop down. “Think of it as a mini-download,” said Elena. I loved this tip. It’s great to put all those racing images, all those nagging bits and pieces of daily intel, into one symbolic spot. And then forget about them for the time you’re meditating. If they pop back into your mind, gently nudge them back out again, and re-train your focus on your breath – or my personal obsession, my trusty ocean soundtracks.
Per Elena, we should be taking more cues from our hearts, and fewer from our heads. “Boss,” she said, pointing to her heart. “Secretary,” she said, pointing to her head.
3. Without being too rigid, establish a mini-ritual. If you can kinda sorta meditate at the same time, in the same place and in the same position every day, it just helps you slip into a meditative state all that much more quickly and easily. I also personally find that certain scents are useful too, whether it’s patchouli or something oceanic or, now, my new Red Flower Of the Wilderness candle!
4. Five minutes is fine. Five minutes is fantastic. Some days you’ll be able to go longer, which is wonderful. I just noticed that for myself, since I made my birthday resolution last month to try to meditate daily, I’ve easily been adding a minute or two every day. The more you do it, the more you want to do it.
5. With time, it will grow from a challenge to a full-tilt craving. Eventually, you won’t feel like yourself without meditating. You’ll be longing to go “home” – that safe, cozy and grounding space within you that meditation creates.