Feet Flat, Hands On Lap, Inhale: Exploring Meditation With An Expert

IMG_3964When we consider our New Yorker lifestyles….the fast pace, the layers of noise, and our on-the-go careers, how are we to STOP, breathe and reflect? For that matter, what incentive do we even have to slow down at all, let alone carve out time to meditate? According to Yoga and Meditation Practitioner Vero Ruelas, meditation can happen almost anywhere, since there are no well-defined rules governing its possibilities. Once you find an approach that’s right for you, you can go ahead and have fun with it….even meditate in business attire amidst the crowds of the city! This “break for the mind” will let you see the world differently, giving you the power to tune out the distractive stimuli, and dial in to your own body’s sensations.

Vero was our guest presenter at last week’s DRIVEN Live Workshop 3 Easy Steps Toward A Stress-Free Life, where she drew a crowd of 25 attendees who represented all levels of meditative curiosity. Following a quick introductory group meditation, she and I probed our participants for the reasons they joined us. The varied responses they gave, which ranged from the need to relieve stress, to the longing for better sleep, to the desire to take their yoga ritual to the next level, to even being directed there by a doctor or a coach, mostly seemed tied into the side-effects of intense careers. What these folks and I soon discovered is that the right meditation, plus a proper dose of mindfulness, is just the antidote for us.

Return To The Present

When we really step back and examine the nature of our stresses, it becomes clear what they all have in common: A lack of “now-ness” or adherence to the present. For example, when we’re regretful or ashamed, our minds are trapped in the past, which doesn’t serve us. Similarly, when we’re anxious, our minds are living in the future….95% of which will never turn out as predicted. This is where mindfulness comes into play. Vero pointed out that mindfulness, a concept which can be used interchangeably with meditation, is our shortcut back to the present. When the primitive portions of our minds attach importance and consequence to circumstances that are not worthy or truthful, it’s a signal that we need to steer our impressions to the present.

Vital SignsIMG_3965

When a return to the present becomes necessary, Vero informs us that there is physical evidence we can sense within our own bodies. For instance, our heart rate increases and our breaths become shallow as a result of breathing from the chest (a learned behavior) rather than from the abdomen (natural). Furthermore, to become fully aware of our emotional state, we must examine the thoughts we are actually having, rather than what we are projecting or attaching emotions to. This introspection gives birth to real meditation, and will allow your mind to escape from the “noise of thought”, and guard it from getting “hijacked” or dragged back in.

Consistency Matters

After you’ve experimented with the numerous types of meditation and have zeroed in on the one that’s right for you, Vero recommends that you stay consistent in your meditative habits. In other words, always remain present with the activity you’re engaged in by “honoring” the activity and making enough physical and emotional space in your day for it. You’ll then be open to receive the activity wholly, and in the proper moderation. If you struggle with sleep, for instance, don’t just cut back on the caffeine; take it a step further by beginning to create a “space” for sleep an hour in advance of hitting the pillow (shut down all screens, practice a little yoga, invent a ritual). Is over-eating your issue? Make the process of ingestion more of a sacrament than a duty. Carve out some emotional space for the meal. Envision the food as fuel for the body as you consume. Examine the flavors, textures and sounds of the food on your palate. You’ll be in the present, and by following through every day, you’ll maintain the consistency that’s necessary to achieve results.

A Renewed Spirit

Following the main presentation and a 2nd, more extended group meditation, attendees expressed how much more grounded they felt compared with when they arrived. They had understood that the meditative rules and boundaries were entirely theirs to create, and they departed with a new inner peace to inspire a stress-free career and lifestyle. To find out more about our fabulous presenter Vero, visit her website AshramChic.com, which serves as a porthole to her various honorable endeavors.