Okay so I won’t lie to you guys, meditation is not something I am great at, but it’s something I want to work on. So many people find clarity from this practice so I turned to an expert for a little Q&A.
Greta Snell and I connected a couple of years ago through Indy Blog Society. Since then, our paths have crossed a few times, but I knew she’d be the one to chat with about meditation.
Greta is a certified yoga instructor and owner of The Moon and She LLC, a yoga and wellness brand. She is also a full-time working mother of Zoey (and two fur babies) as a director of accounts at Dittoe Public Relations in Indianapolis. See our Q&A about meditation below.
Q: For those of us who are new to meditation, can you give us a brief overview of what it is?
In its simplest form, meditation is being fully present and finding stillness by letting go and tuning in. Meditation can come in many forms, and it’s important to know that too. It doesn’t have to be what most likely envision when someone says meditation -- sitting crossed-legged on a pillow in total silence and surrounded by candles. That’s wonderful too, in its own way, but meditation can be so much more than that. Meditation could be a silent walk through nature or journaling every morning. It could be guided during yoga nidra or a moment of silence as we focus on our breath. It can be a simple moment of prayer. There are so many ways -- and truly no wrong way -- to engage meditation.
Q: Why is meditation used in the practice of self-care?
“In the midst of chaos, find stillness.”
Currently that quote is my go-to daily intention. Meditation is finding stillness despite the chaos. When we give ourselves permission to stop for even a few minutes, we give ourselves the gift of peace. A moment of stillness even at the craziest of times can clear your mind and give you a chance to reset and recharge for what’s next. It’s a chance to reflect before you react. There is so much good that can come from stepping away from the go-go-go to find a few moments of stillness. When you are calm, others around you are given permission to be calm too. It’s a gift for yourself and everyone around you.
Q: I know that meditation has multiple health benefits. Can you highlight three for me?
Our minds (and our bodies) need moments of peace. I’m not sure I can say it better than Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the world’s most renowned Buddhist leaders. (No, meditating doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion!)
“Our minds and hearts need food. And meditation is a kind of food. So we feed ourselves like that. You need to eat, and your peace, kindness, clarity need to eat well.”
By feeding our minds and our hearts, we experience limitless health benefits. For me, the three key benefits I know I feel on a daily basis -- even more so on days I meditate often -- include:
Reduce stress and control anxiety: I harness a lot of stress and anxiety. I’m wired to be that way, but yoga and meditation are a couple tools in my toolbox that help me manage those feelings and level myself back out.
Enhance self-awareness: By engaging in daily meditation, you gain greater awareness of your thought habits and can steer them toward more constructive patterns. It gives you strength to look at life through different lens.
Improves sleep: I have no doubt that when I practice yoga and/or meditation during the day, I sleep so much better at night. And, let me tell you, I need my sleep!
Here are a couple stories worth reading, if you’re curious on the science behind meditation and its benefits:
Q: How and why did you get started with meditation?
It started with yoga in 2013. I went to the free yoga class at the Lululemon store every Saturday with my sister and friend for a few months, and during a particularly tough season, I eventually found my way to a local yoga studio with the encouragement of a friend (and yoga teacher). Through what became an avid yoga practice, I found meditation. The beauty of meditation is that you only need a few minutes to feel it. It’s accessible anywhere, anytime, by anyone. There are no limits, and that is so powerful.
As my yoga practice evolved, so did my meditation practice. There are days I meditate multiple times -- again, even if only for a few minutes. Finding that peace and stillness, that feeling that the world can stop turning for just a few moments to catch your breath, is truly life-changing.
My practice most recently took me through yoga teacher training, and I’m not a certified yoga instructor.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to practice this? Where do you start?
Start small and find what works best for you. A few minutes a day may be plenty to clear your mind and rejuvenize your spirit. As you settle in to daily meditations for a few minutes, you may find yourself meditating longer and longer, simply because you feel better afterward. You do you. There is no wrong way to meditate as long as you’re turning inward, finding stillness and letting go of what’s around you.
A few products to help you get started:
The I AM Journal, by Lauren Sanders
The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo
Meditations from the Mat, by Rolf Gates
Q: How are yoga and meditation connected?
Meditation is part of the eight-limb path of yoga, also known as the yoga sutras by Patanjali. There is so much depth to the yoga sutras, but the Dhyana (traditionally the seventh limb) is meditation. I’d highly recommend Meditations from the Mat, by Rolf Gates, as a book on the yoga sutras. It can also be a daily read, serving as a mini meditation practice as well.
Yoga is often described as “meditation in motion” because you’re tuning in to yourself and tuning out distractions around you as you link breath and movement. The benefits of yoga are very similar, if not the same, as the benefits of meditation. The key, though, is that you have to let these practices in for them to do their magic.
Cheers to finding peace in our hearts and our minds,