My session began with the staff offering me tea. I chose the mint tea. SO GOOD. Then I sat in the lounge while the workshop was setup. I checked out some candles, bath products that all smelled like heaven. I sat in a chair swing for a bit and zoned out before moving myself into the back room with lounge cushions next to a fountain where I listened to the calming sound of flowing water while sipping my mint tea. When the workshop was ready I went in the room to discover cushions big enough to lie down on and then I had 60 minutes of pure bliss. Half of the workshop was just the sound of crystal bowls (which if you don't know what those are, I encourage you to check it out) and half a guided meditation. A whole hour of meditation was a gift I don't often give myself and it was SO worth it.
This was my recent experience at Chill Chicago (check them out here), a local meditation, yoga and massage center in Chicago. A peaceful environment, but the real reason I went was to help find the peace within.
Ahh peace. Something we're always seeking externally that is actually hidden within. I've been feeling somewhat turbulent, heavy energy lately.. (since the Mercury Retrograde really, if you're into that sort of thing..) and it's been pushing me towards more grounding activities. More yoga practice. More meditation. More deep breaths and slowing down... which isn't easy for me. The slowing down. In times of turbulence in the past I never really used to respond this way. I responded to overwhelming energies pretty mindlessly, not even thinking about it. Not that I've mastered the art of constantly being at peace, but I'd say this is growth.
So in this instance I decided to book myself a Crystal Healing Bowl Meditation workshop over at Chill Chicago and I was inspired to share my experience and journey to meditation with all of you.
I'll spare you the details, but have you ever been through a dark or chaotic time in your life? OF COURSE YOU HAVE. We all have. That's life. There are highs and lows. Chaos can come from both. And sometimes we deal with chaos in not-so-healthy ways. My whole life I had never really thought about dealing with chaotic times in any way whatsoever. I was kind of just floating around and dealing with things in probably not-so-healthy ways, without really intended to. Until I discovered meditation. And I realized I could calm myself in moments of chaos and choose what energy to take on and what to let go. HOW. FREEING. Not that it's that easy in a world of chaos to find the quiet... it's a practice you have to make some time and space for.
Luckily, meditation centers, like Chill Chicago, are popping up and we need them more than ever. Especially in America! America is a great country, but I think we are behind in that we still "live to work" rather than "work to live." We are stressed. And hurried. WE NEED TO CHILL. And enjoy life. Otherwise, what's the point?
Not to mention the physical and mental effects that not chilling out are having on our health. As a Registered Dietitian, I am passionate about holistic health and I believe healthcare should focus on mind, body and spirit and sometimes I truly believe stress effects us more than even what we eat or if we exercise. Obviously, I'm saying that with a grain of salt... nutrition and physical activity are hugely important, but we tend to ignore the stress factor. Physically stress manifests in increasing cortisol in the body leading to holding on to more adipose tissue along with a number of other issues. Mentally, stress can manifest in depression, anxiety and, in extreme cases, crazy acts of violence.
The thing is, when you meditate, it causes you to focus on the present moment. When you focus on the present moment, it tends to interrupt feelings of depression over things that happened in the past and anxiety over what might happen in the future. It quiets down that mindless chatter our brains make that cause us to be preoccupied on things that are over or things that haven't even and may never actually happen. Mediation helps the brain quiet the chatter and feel the joy of just simply being.
In my own experience, I find myself going towards breath and meditation in times of stress or if someone ticks me off. I mean, not always. I still swear a lot in traffic.... it's an ongoing practice... :) But the fact that I think to do that at all is pretty impressive to me!
The really cool thing is, this isn't just my opinion, but research studies are looking into the benefits of meditation and yoga on mental health issues and finding positive results! I'm hoping to see the day where meditation becomes a regular part of the school day and becomes part of the norm. It's becoming more main stream and hell, if this is the newest "trend" so be it! People are already out there complaining about the commercialization of yoga and I'm sure meditation to follow. I get where they're coming from to a point, BUT if it helps a whole lot of people WHO GIVES A FLYING F. Commercialize awayyyy as far as I'm concerned. Again, people just need something to chatter about. Less talky, more meditatey please.
And on that note, I think I should take my own advice and wrap it up here. But if you can find 10 minutes or more in your day to give to yourself, welcome meditation into your life. And if you have an amazing center near you like Chill Out Chicago, take your lunch break there! Meditate, lay back for a couple minutes or just get a chair massage! Notice how the rest of your day after that changes. And thank me later for your newfound zen. ;-)
Wishing you all so much love and light and peace.
MS, RDN, LDN