Erin McGann has struggled with meditation in the past, but she gives it a try at Chopra Yoga in Vancouver for the sake of this article.
I’m not a sit still kind of person.
I mean, I can do it. It’s silly to take pride in sitting still, but when Danielle Mika Nagel, the Studio Director at Chopra Yoga, tells me I’m good at it, I am pleased. We’re having a one-on-one meditation session to plan out my meditation practice, and the whole thing is unknown territory for me.
I have tried yoga over the years, but it never really stuck with me. I’m much more a martial arts kind of person. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, calming my mind and spending time on myself, so when an invitation came through to try the meditation classes at Chopra Yoga, it seemed a good place to start.
Meditation Class in a Rooftop Garden
The centre is all white walls, wood and clean lines, and on my first visit we climb to the open rooftop garden for a group meditation class. I thought it would be hard to settle down surrounded by people, and unfortunately for us, a jackhammer going down at street level, but Danielle talks us down.
She explains we have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day, and to expect to quieten all of them is overwhelming and very difficult. Just let them pass, she counsels us. Leading us in a few group cleansing breaths and some seated stretches, we move into the closing our eyes and sitting still part. The mantra Danielle gives us is simple: one, two. Then repeat. I had never tried using a mantra before in my ill-informed and short-lived attempts to meditate and I find the simple count brings me back when I start thinking about what to make for dinner or whether I absolutely have to do laundry tonight. Before I know it, Danielle’s calm voice is bringing me back to the rooftop. I didn’t fall asleep, but I did completely lose track of myself. I wasn’t thinking, exactly, so what happened?
Spending Time Away From Your Ego
There are a few things that can happen when you meditate, explains Danielle. You can dwell on your thoughts, you can repeat your mantra, you can fall asleep or you can slip into the gap between thoughts. This last one is great when it happens, but she cautions against using words like ‘goals’ for meditation. The larger purpose of meditating is to spend some time away from your ego – that part of you deeply enmeshed in everyday life, in your identity as you define it with your job, relationships or whatever other external factors.
In my one-on-one session, we explore what time I have to meditate (not a lot), how much sleep I’m getting (also not a lot) and a mantra for me to use. Danielle is a mom to two little girls, and knows exactly the situation of too little time. We decide getting 20 minutes of meditation once a day is great, and even five minutes is good. She asks me to meditate every day for the next 21 days and I agree.
A Down-to-Earth Meditation Teacher
I think I’ve been especially receptive to these sessions because Danielle is so down to earth. Sure she’s accredited in the intense-sounding primordial sound meditation, but she also has a good laugh with me about childless meditation teachers insisting on set schedules that can’t possibly happen with kids running around.
Later that day I had this feeling of complete contentment I haven’t felt in ages. I don’t know whether it’s connected, but I’m going to keep up the meditation and find out.
Meditation memberships at Chopra Yoga are $29/month including access to the sauna, a private session is $145, and drop-in meditation is $9 a session. Or, if you’d like to give it a try without having to pay, they’re offering a free, family-friendly “Intro to Meditation” session on Saturday, September 15, 2012 from 2:00-3:00pm.
Erin McGann is a writer, mom, amateur cellist and keen cook. Having spent seven years living in London, England, she’s learning how to say apartment instead of flat and drink coffee again. She blogs at Mummy & Monkey and tweets as @erinehm. She’s also one of our Top 30 Mom Bloggers for 2012.