When I lived in New York a few years back I felt like I had little places to go to escape the maddening pace of the city. It drove me crazy because I just could not find peace. It ultimately led me to flee the city entirely in search of a better, more calm lifestyle, which is part of the reason why I ended up in New Orleans. Flash forward to today and mindfulness and wellness options have exploded. Inscape, a new 5,000 sq foot meditation studio in Manhattan, is no doubt a byproduct of New Yorkers craving a more self-aware, peaceful existence. Instead of escaping our stresses, we are now inscaping, turning inwards in order to confront the source. It's treating the problem, not just the symptoms. It's understanding that in order to have a better connection to other living things and our senses, we must foster that connection within ourselves first. Balance is so desperately needed, in New York especially.
I popped by Inscape's gorgeous mediation studio last week to try out a 22 minute focus class held in their unique and colorful dome. Mediation, I found, is a lot easier when you're comforted by a warm room, inspiring lighting and a blanket. There's something almost womb-like about it. All of my senses were enveloped and I had flashbacks to being a child when we used to lift that giant colorful parachute up in the air and sit underneath it. Even then my anxiety was tested and I found similar feelings being in this room which is exactly why I needed to be there. Can I start to understand how to calm my mind? I always experienced physical symptoms of anxiety that ranged from numbness in my hands to feeling short of breath.
When I sat in the room there were only a few other brave souls ready to confront their silence. It was Inauguration day, might I add, so the anxious energy was palpable. A soothing recorded voice led us through a mediation and, as expected, my mind started to wander. What accent does this woman have? I think she's Australian. Hmm, wait maybe South African? Am I going to make my flight today? As soon as I caught my mind wandering the voice came back over asking us to refocus on our breath if our minds started to wander. It's a very intuitive experience and I picked up some amazing breath techniques. Here are a few mediation pointers that I learned through this experience:
- To start, sit in a comfortable seat, bring hands to prayer and rub your hands together to create warmth. Focus on that sensation and how it feels. This brings awareness to our senses.
- Understand that fear and anxiety limit creativity. If we can calm and focus our mind, our creatively will flourish
- Breathe and count to ten. Inhale, 1. Exhale, 1. Inhale, 2. Exhale, 2... and so on. If the mind wanders during this counting, start over at 1.
- Mediation should be comfortable. They encouraged us to move around during the 22 minutes. Lay down, curl up, whatever it will take to truly focus on the mind with limited distractions
If you can't make it to NYC they also have an app, but the space here is beautiful. If only it existed when I lived there but I know that whenever I visit I will most definitely look forward to spending more time. Beautiful spaces inspire me and what is life if we can't surround ourselves with thoughtful, interesting things that help bring us closer to our true self?