I didn't know that my very first meditation class would spark a decade long love affair with meditation. After a sunrise yoga class at one of my favorite studios in Chicago, I noticed a posting for a Sunday mediation class.
I had always loved the "idea" of mediation and occasionally practiced deep breathing and stillness. But for a self-professed "life long learner," actually going to a class to really learn best practices of meditation was exciting. Also, I never experienced group meditation, so I was intrigued.
At this time I was in law school and up for anything that helped alleviate some stress. So one rainy Sunday evening I walked into my first meditation class. The class was an eclectic mix of about 15 people and it instantly felt warm and inviting. So, I grabbed my floor cushion and made my way to a place in the circle.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was interested to see how a meditation class actually worked. The instructor began the class by explaining that one of goals a mediation practice was to be less reactive and more responsive in our lives. He then outlined some techniques for us to use, based on our experience level.
Since I was a beginner, he gave instructions for a simple meditation technique. In essence we would inhale and count from 1-9, then exhale and count from 9-1, taking note to match the counting with the natural rhythms of our breathing.
I can still remember my own surprise when after a few minutes of this focused breathing, I begin to feel the sensation of a peaceful, out of body like experience. There were feelings of well-being, flow, stillness, and power.
It was a feeling of awareness.
That feeling was almost 10 years ago. Since then I've been hooked. My practice can be sporadic at times, depending on what's going on in life. But, it is one of the best tools I have for self-care. It's my go-to for refocusing and pulling myself out of anxiety.
There are so many benefits to meditation. Here's a few that I've noticed in my personal life.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Allows me to take inventory of my body-areas where I may be holding tension (clenched jaw, lower belly pain, etc).
- Interrupts loop of negative self talk
- Gain clarity
- Inspires creativity
- Creates feeling of self-love and gratitude