Volume 4: Meditation
Welcome to Evemail, Evewear’s guides to wellness during Covid-19. As a company we try and have intention and purpose with everything we do. While we locally make sustainable sleepwear, we also hope to build a community with like-minded people who are interested in the same ideals that we are :)
I actually took a course on Meditation in college and I loved it so much I took it 3 times. The class was in the Jazz School curriculum and I originally took the class because my musician boyfriend took it every semester and hey, I wanted to be cool. However, I quickly learned that I was gravely mistaken, this class was the opposite of a free period to flirt with my boyfriend. This class was hard work. Meditation takes a lot of inner strength and discipline, it’s about learning to find your own stillness and focus, I quickly became hooked.
Taking a course for a year and a half straight did not mean it became easy or that it is easy for me today. I don’t think if you ask anyone who regularly meditates if it is easy they would say yes. Everyday we wake up a little different, the focus, the patience, the time is not always there, however the key is never to feel defeated, we have to keep reminding ourselves like a mantra, “tomorrow is a new day.”
Meditation is learning to pay attention to our mind and our thoughts. Through meditation we can learn how to control our thoughts and responses. Everyday we are at the mercy of our thoughts and our immediate reactions (especially during this stressful time). If someone insults us, we repeat it over in our minds. If we feel any ailment, we ruminate that we have the virus. If we eat something savory, we want something sweet. These are all natural reactions to stimuli in our environment. However, if you are mindful and start to notice your mind/body’s response, we can learn how to control them. Being mindful is crucial to understanding how to meditate, the Buddha describes 4 ways of understanding mindfulness within our minds and bodies.
The Buddha’s 4 Foundations of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness of the Body- Our breath, our body temperature, being aware of our physical form
Mindfulness of Feelings- Being aware when we attach ourselves to our feelings, being able to separate ourselves from the emotions we are feeling.
Mindfulness of Consciousness- Paying attention to our states of mind or mental formations, they are anything from being lazy, to feeling shame, to jealousy (see the full list here), I think this one goes hand in hand with #2 as we relate with our emotions to what our state of mind is at any given moment.
- Mindfulness of Mental Objects- This is a very interesting concept. When we look at any object we don’t just see what it is, we layer our past experiences and perceptions on the object and create an image in our mind of what we are seeing. For example: if we see a basketball, we don’t just see the ball we are reminded of experiences both positive and negative that our minds associate with the basketball (such as that time you shot a buzzer beater or that NBA championship game that your favorite team lost). Our goal is to try and be mindful of the mind's triggers and see the object for what it truly is and the beauty within it, the leather bound bouncing object.
These 4 foundations of Mindfulness teach us ways to note feelings and emotions and then let go of them. One goal of meditation is to note your thoughts and not become your thoughts. When we are truly mindful of our reactions we can have healthier relationships with other people as well as ourselves.
Other definitions of Mindfulness:
-“The ability to know what is going on in your head right now, without getting carried away by it” - Dan Harris, founder of 10% Happier
-“Mindfulness is the ability to be present, to rest in the here and now, and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment.” - Headspace App
There are many different types of meditation practices, but the basics are pretty much all very similar:
- Find a quiet place at a time that works best in your schedule
- Decide how long you want to meditate for, can be as little as 2 minutes or as long as you want
- Find a comfortable seated or lying position
- Close your eyes
The next step will differ across different practices:
Guided Meditation: Best for Beginners, guided meditation is done by a teacher, an app, website, podcast, anywhere you can sit and listen while you are guided through the process. My favorite apps are Calm, Headspace, Deepak Chopra & Oprah’s guided meditations, and 10% Happier. The meditator is guided through the basic steps of the practice and taught the process as well as how to integrate meditation into their everyday life.
Mindful Meditation: Paying attention to your thoughts as they pass through in your mind, once you realize your mind has wandered let the thought go like a cloud passing in the sky. You should not judge yourself for wandering thoughts, simply observe, take note, and let go. I personally repeat a mantra and feel how the breath feels in my body to anchor my attention and always come back to my breath. Mindful Meditation can also be done during the day while you go about your everyday life: Mindful eating, mindful walking, there’s endless activities that can be done in a mindful way. Thich Nhat Hanh's book “Peace is Every Step” is a great introduction to living a mindful existence.
Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM): is a form of meditation where you are given a mantra specially assigned to you by a teacher and taught to repeat it in a specific way for 20 minutes twice a day. This type of meditation is for someone serious about starting a continued practice by a trained and licensed TM instructor of the Maharishi Foundation. This type of meditation has been studied extensively and has shown many health benefits.
The key to any meditation practice is bringing it into your everyday routine and making a habit out of it. Of all these wellness guides, I hope this one inspires you to try the practice the most. You will soon see even 5 minutes a day makes a huge difference and provides endless health benefits :)
Our Meditation Moodboard