First, why meditation? I have read so many self-help books and attended several seminars about being my best self. While they have all been helpful, I would not say I feel or act different. By different I mean more centered, calm, and balanced. Many have suggested meditation and after further research, I have learned that meditation has many physiological and psychological benefits including reducing emotional distress, increasing creativity, and relaxing our nervous system. Click here to learn about the one-hundred ways that meditation can help you.
I was referred to New York Insight because of it’s approach. It is volunteer-run, donation-based, and it is not one of those places where you have to “drink the juice.” You simply go and meditate. Whether you want to attend one of their weekly 2-hour sittings (which exists in a few of New York’s boroughs), monthly day-long sittings, or other events, there is something for everyone.
What happened on my day-long retreat? The day started a 10 AM with a few readings, setting our intention for the session, and then we began a silent, seated meditation. We then spent the remainder of the time alternating between a silent, seated mediation and walking meditation, each of which ranged from 30-45 minutes. We broke for lunch in the middle, where the suggestion was to bring your own lunch and to eat in silence. The day ended with people sharing about their experiences, and we all left at 5 PM.
The intention I created for myself was acceptance. Interestingly, in the second silent meditation, some life things came up for me, which brought about feelings of anger and resentment, and they almost brought me to tears. I kept reminding myself to be accepting and that this meditation was supposed to get me there. However, I could not let “it” go. This was frustrating because I thought I was magically going to be calm and centered! For whatever reason, after lunch, I seemed to have been able to let go of that which upset me earlier. Perhaps I simply needed to accept that it was just going to take a a little time.
Lunch was interesting. I brought my lunch but worried I might get hungry in the afternoon so I left the building to grab a snack. While the streets were fairly quiet, I think I would have preferred to stay at the center and eat in silence, meditating when I was done. Going outside was a little distracting. It’s almost as if I were trying to resist being in the calm and peaceful meditation area.
Once the day ended, I realized I had no opinion of the day. This was important because I usually have strong opinions about almost everything. In this case, I felt present, calm, and without judgement.
Will I continue my meditation practice? Absolutely. I still have to work out how I will incorporate it into my life, but I know it will be a journey that will take me to good places. It reminds me a lot of yoga. No matter how often you do it or how many years you’ve practiced, there is no point where you can consider yourself a master as there is always something you can do to deepen your practice.
Let the journey begin!