“You seem so happy — what’s your secret?” At the market, on the hiking trail, walking my dog… Since I began a daily mindfulness practice nearly three years ago, I get asked this question by complete strangers a few times a week. My answer — meditation — always takes people a little by surprise!
Mindfulness meditation is an ancient practice re-emerging as a modern trend. You may have heard or read about its significant benefits such as improved focus, more patience, a feeling of ease and contentment, elevated mood, enhanced immune response and many more. As a busy person with a jam-packed schedule, though, the idea of sitting quietly in silence might seem an impossibility in your current world. Most of us think of meditation and picture a lofty scene of a blissed-out person on a mountain top. It’s hard to imagine this type of serenity for yourself when your alone time consists of a few minutes in the shower!
While it can be challenging to carve out the time, it’s beyond worth every second. After twenty years in the healing arts I’ve found no other single practice that gives you such an amazing return on your effort than meditation. I promise that even a ten-minute daily mindfulness practice will change your life for the better — — sitting and silence not required!
Much like yoga or massage therapy, there are many different types and styles of meditation to choose from. There is Vipassana, Insight Meditation, Zen and other traditional Buddhist disciplines. Other practices utilize a mantra such as TM (Transcendental Meditation) and Vedic meditation. Some types of meditation incorporate movement such as walking meditation, qi gong or yoga. Metta meditation — or loving kindness meditation — focuses on feelings, while other traditions might focus on the breath or the body. Everyone is unique and will resonate best with a different approach; I encourage people new to meditation to try as many as you can as often one will feel the most natural.
My passion is inspiring health and well-being in our community through massage therapy, meditation and personal growth. At Soulstice Mind + Body Spa — our new meditation and massage therapy studio in Sausalito — our goal is to provide these services in a truly accessible, affordable and enjoyable way.
We’ve designed our services with busy people in mind…
- Soulstice is minutes off 101 in Sausalito — ideal for commuters between Marin and SF
-Monthly Memberships offer unlimited classes and monthly massages
-Classes typically last 30–60 minutes and offered morning, afternoon and evening
-All classes welcome beginners and those new to meditation
-Family friendly classes — bring your teens!
The beauty of meditation and mindfulness — and all their amazing benefits — is that they come from within. Many of us go through life chasing an elusive, externally-derived happiness. Some people endeavor to find it through career success and achievement, through romantic relationships, or the acquiring of objects. Others seek it through entertainment and pleasurable experiences, such as travel, food and wine. While these things can certainly bring you momentary joy, these experiences are all impermanent and predicated on the notion that factors outside of yourself will make you happy. They might make you happy for a moment — but this kind of happiness is fleeting, unstable and not lasting…
On the other hand, the happiness and equanimity fostered by a daily meditation practice aren’t reliant on external factors or dependent upon getting what you want. This kind of happiness is deep, lasting and authentic. It requires nothing other than the kindling of your soul to sustain it. In fact — with regular practice — you’ll find yourself being happy for no reason at all. How brilliant is that?!
It’s best to go gently into your new meditation practice without a lot of expectations for instant results and success. Instead, cultivate a sense of tenderness and patience toward yourself… In our high achieving society, we tend to want rigid timelines and immediate gratification. Meditation — like most of what is real and lasting in life — requires minimal yet daily tending over time, as well as the space, time and attention for the benefits to grow and accrue.
The results of daily meditation will tend to sneak up on you… suddenly you’ll notice that you get less annoyed by the things that used to drive you crazy. You’ll notice yourself rushing for no reason and able to slow yourself down. You’ll be more patient in traffic or lines at the store. As you grow more self-aware, you’ll catch yourself when you’re being unnecessarily judgmental. Your focus will improve, as well as your ability to work with a clear, undistracted mind for sustained periods of time. Feeling at peace will become more important than being right. It’s likely your loved ones — or complete strangers — will notice a quiet calm and easy cheerfulness in your mood.
Once you begin to experience the positive effects of daily meditation it becomes easy to stick with a daily practice. A few minutes each and every day will yield greater benefits than infrequent, longer sessions. Practicing in a group class setting — often known as a sangha — can help motivate you to sit regularly and give you a beautiful community to grow in your practice and life. If you’ve felt the energetic power of a crowd at an amazing musical performance or gathering then you’ve already felt the difference between meditating on one’s own versus meditating in a group.
At Soulstice, we have a number of beautiful offerings to help get you started in a daily meditation practice. We offer a diverse collection of weekly classes taught by our world-class teaching team — all open and welcome to beginners! Join us in September for Jennifer Newcomb’s Introduction to Meditation Series — held on four consecutive Saturdays and ideal for beginners. Also, mark your calendars for Amanda Gilbert (pictured above) when she visits Soulstice in November for a Saturday workshop. Meditating together as a collective is a powerful and beautiful experience, as is the sense of shared community it creates. Give yourself the gift of practicing this ancient art and you’ll open your modern life to untold blessings in return.