If you’re anything like me, actually sitting down to meditate can be a lot more intimidating than sweating it out in a vinyasa class. While yoga asana (the physical practice of the poses) is supposed to be a moving meditation, connecting breath & movement, it’s easy for that concept to become lost on us. In our fast-paced, do-it-all kind of society, the practice can just as quickly get clumped into the category of working out without a second thought. However, for most of us, it is this moving meditation, this calming aspect that keeps us coming back. Ever left a yoga class with that feeling like you’re glowing from savasana? Or that for just a moment, you’ve let all the “doing” aspects of your humanity at the door, and just practiced “being” for a while? Well, that’s exactly what the practice is about. Meditation, the practice of being in the present moment, is what you tapped into. And it’s meditation that will really help you bring your yogic values into your daily life, off of the mat & into the world. To lessen the intimidation around this practice, I interviewed Candice, our incredible teacher here at Soul Strong. Candice teaches Flow, Yin & Meditation. Meditation is every Sunday at 5:30 PM. Check out my interview with Candice below and more importantly, make sure to check out her classes on our schedule.
How did you get into meditation? What has your meditation journey looked like so far?
I cultivated a daily meditation practice in my yoga training last year- I'm still VERY new to it all. I had tried guided meditation before, but nothing had really settled or resonated with me. Then I found group meditation. It was the guidance, energy, support, and accountability I needed. In a group setting I was able to have my own experience and know that others were having their own experience as well- we were all there to hold space for each other. I was able to get comfortable in silence and start feeling the benefits of a quiet sitting practice. Now I take at least 10 minutes a day to breathe and sit.
What inspires you to want to teach meditation to others?
I noticed a HUGE shift in my energy once I established a practice- even before it became a daily one. Meditation has so many benefits to our overall well-being but it can be a hard one to consistently make time for to practice. In a group setting we're given a bit more guidance. We try different meditations and can pick and choose which ones we like, and resonate with and want to dive deeper into. And, overall, I really enjoy being a space holder for people to have the experience they need to.
What should one expect when coming to meditation class? Advice for first-time meditators?
Just come as you are! That's what I absolutely love about yoga and meditation. Day in and day out these practices will take you just as you are in that day and in that moment. Meditation is an intimate practice of self inquiry and self discovery. We begin class with a Dharma talk which is a short talk on life-inspired wisdom. Not MY wisdom, but wisdom we all have that may just need to be uncovered or dusted off. Then we'll move into some slow, conscious breathwork. From there we either move into a guided meditation or a silent practice. And before class ends there's time for discussion and inquiry. While meditation is a very personal experience, it can be really helpful to talk about what happened or ask any questions about the practice we may feel unsure about. I know I had SO many questions when starting meditation, and I still do. Meditation is all about staying curious and open- question everything with an open mind!
What advice do you have for times when meditation brings up some shit? Like, ya know, when the practice really makes you face yourself & can actually bring up some anxiety? (Asking for a friend...lol) Or even when fear of facing yourself gets in the way of even sitting?
Oh man. This is THE question. I feel like meditation really begins when the shit really starts to come out. And this is really great news. Being in a group setting can be really helpful- you are not alone. If you begin a meditation practice, shit will come up. It's inevitable. But we get comfortable with it. We sit with it and let it pass through us. We feel the feels- especially the ones we habitually resist. It will get uncomfortable and there are many many times when you're going to want to get up and run. But the practice and discipline is to stay with yourself. Get curious. What happens when you stay? When you don't run away and resist? What is on the other side of it? When you allow shit to move through you, you don't let it control you. It doesn't continue to build up. You let it pass through, make its noise, and move on. And little by little you begin to feel lighter. Life will continue to throw us curveballs. But when we become steadfast in ourselves, we don't get so hooked or triggered or shaken.
Are there different techniques we'll be using in meditation class? If so, give us a sneak peek as to what some of those are??
Oh yes! We try out different forms of breathing- breath calms and regulates our nervous system. And we'll do different guided and prescriptive meditations. Last week we did Meditation for a Calm Heart- one hand on our heart, our other hand in Gyan mudra and we breathed very slowly into the palm of our hand. We've done a Loving Kindness meditation where we draw out love, kindness, and compassion for ourselves and then sent it out to other people in our lives. There are SO many different ones that we'll explore, and that we'll also come back to over and over again.
Just for fun- tell us a little bit about your morning routine!
Ha! My morning routine usually revolves around my little- getting him fed and ready for school. But morning sets the tone for the whole day. So, while I don't start my day with a quiet practice (I end my day with it, contrary to what meditation "experts" and articles tell you to do) I practice bite-sized meditations. I mindfully make my bed every morning- setting and tidying a space that is very personal and impactful for me. I slowly and mindfully make my coffee. I grind the beans every morning and carefully make my pour-over cup of coffee because that's usually the first thing I'm putting in my body. And then I check on my plants. I'm a plant freak and they're all over the place. I check on them in the morning, make sure they have water and cut off any dead leaves. This is a significant remind for my own wellbeing- make sure I'm nourished and hydrated, and to also rid myself of dead weight- whether it be emotions, thoughts, or relationships that are no longer serving my overall happiness. My quiet practice takes place right before bed. This is helpful to me 1) because it's convenient- you don't want your meditation practice to stress you out and 2) I can process what I need to process so that I can sleep easy and peacefully.
For more information about meditation, check out the following resources!
For more info on Candice’s meditation practice, check out her instagram @__mamaste__.