MIND OVER MATTER: EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON MEDITATION
By: Emily Thomas
You don’t have to be an experienced Yogi to understand the benefits of meditation. Even the simplest of meditation practices can soothe anxiety, enhance creativity, strengthen decision making skills, and expand your self knowledge. It’s a long held practice in many Eastern religions, but these days it’s just as common for mindfulness events to pop up everywhere from the Google campus to Fashion Week. Recently, our friends at The Alchemist’s Kitchen brought together four leading meditation experts to ask ‘Is Mindfulness the new Bikram yoga — “tastes great, less filling’? Or is the rising popularity of meditation signaling a consciousness upgrade across society?” Read on for their thoughts on how meditation just might change your life.
Elena Brower, author, yoga and meditation teacher, and Executive Producer of On Meditation: Documenting the Inner Journey
For me, meditation is about changing the state of being. I found that my verifications are coming from a place of truth, and when other people hear that they’re like, “Oh that bitch knows what she’s doing.” I’m going to do it like my life depends on it, like my sanity depends on it, like my romantic life, my financial life, everything depends on it. Mediation is an invisible art that is done in an invisible world but it does have external effects. Your life will change as you change your level of being. It wasn’t until I started sitting in earnest every morning, hating myself, addressing all the patterns in my mind and getting to develop my own personal power, that I really started to be able to make sure what I knew was possible in my life. Now I’m a friend that I’m proud of. Now I’m a parent that I like. I still struggle a little, but I apologize really well. We talk about everything and I’m very honest and I feel like the practice, as simple as it is, just sitting and reading to myself in the morning makes a world of difference of who I am in my life. I think it’s about personal power.
Lodro Rinzler, meditation teacher and author of six books, including The Buddha Walks into a Bar and Love Hurts
My favorite word in the Tibetan language in meditation is Gom. It can be translated as “meditation”, or it can be translated as “to become familiar with”, i.e., meditation is a process for us to become familiar to who we are, and that includes all the roses and the habitual patterns and, what we might call evidence, and also our joy, creativity, our weird fun fantasies, every aspect of we are. It becomes more about us befriending ourselves and befriending meditation that includes us or nature or wisdom, as opposed to feeling like we have to exercise certain aspects of ourselves to get rid of them is part of meditation. Maybe weeks, months, years past, we look over our shoulder, like I love my friend. It’s the same thing but only for us. We actually learn to love ourselves.
Jesse Israel, Founder of the meditation event The Big Quiet and Medi Club.
Over the past seven years of having this practice I have found that means sometimes I’m sitting there meditating and my brain is racing, and sometimes I’m having a deeper meditation and I’m conked out. I got into mediation because I was so anxious running a record label in my twenties and hiding behind guitars. This practice over time has allowed me to trust a little bit, to surrender to nature. It started to strengthen my intuition. It started to give me the courage to act on my gut. When I started to see that is when I was willing to follow that. That really incredible things would happen. The more that I sort of strengthened that muscle and follow that, I guess, the more magical my life became. For me it’s allowed me to have a connection to something greater, be that nature, the universe, or God. It’s very clear to me that my generation is very stressed, very anxious and quite lonely. Especially a city like New York. I think that’s why community togetherness and meditation go hand-in-hand. The more we’re digitally connected, the lonelier we’re becoming. The more we’re moving away from a sense of tribal living and living in our solid lives, the more alone and isolated we feel and that brings up intense emotion. There’s a generation of people scrambling for ways to deal with what’s going on and what’s happening in our lives at such a rapid pace.
Biet Simkin, Founder of Center of the Cyclone, an immersive experience that weaves meditation, self inquiry, art, music and fashion
I feel like meditation is you transforming inside yourself, so I’d rather give people the tools and then have them discover for themselves what happens to them, rather than telling them “Oh and at the end of that journey, you’re going to get Jesus. Maybe it’s good, but who cares what it is? Every day it’s the same. Little struggles, a little conversation. Slowly there’s becoming less and less mental activity around my saga. I notice those patterns and I notice there’s a consensus and I know who’s talking for me in those moments. I know who’s sitting on the floor in those moments, and slowly I feel an agency over those moments in a way I have not had. It’s not something that happens overnight. It happens over years. It happens with consistent practice. It matters that you’re there and consistent. It matters that you’re there everyday for ourselves. I see the patterns, and I get to slowly either dissolve, transmute, reform them, recalibrate them and then be the person I know I want to be. That’s it.
Image via Moyan Brenn.