I read in Time that mindfulness is “the new science of health and happiness.” It seems that meditation is the new 'avocado toast' of healthy living, so naturally I wanted in on it.
When I learned of the Wellness Education Center’s new lunch-hour meditation event, I knew this was my chance.
The room is dimly-lit but for three salt lamps dotting the space between yoga mats. It’s 12 p.m. and I’m eager to reap the benefits of meditation that I’ve been hearing so much about.
I find a mat and settle myself onto a small circular cushion, straightening and relaxing my back as the instructor and health sciences PhD student, Tanaz Javan, advises.
She tells us to place our legs in the lotus pose — which is basically an advanced crisscross applesauce — or a “lazy lotus” version that doesn’t completely cut circulation to your ankles.
I choose to be a lazy lotus, take a deep breath and close my eyes.
After a brief introduction, Javan plays a 26-minute guided meditation for us to follow. While the monotone voice recording is far from inducing serenity, we are led through a series of breathing exercises that are, admittedly, relaxing.
So relaxing that I feel myself begin to sway and nearly doze off. I remember that I only received five hours of sleep the night before and regain my posture.
The recording tells us to acknowledge thoughts and physical sensations — anything we hear, feel or think — but to allow you to let go of each distraction. It seems that meditation doesn’t require completely wiping your mind of thoughts, but maintaining an awareness of them from the back of your headspace.
I don’t experience some enlightening epiphany of mindfulness, but I am surprised to notice a significant change in my awareness. Focusing on feeling and counting each breath sounds monotonous, but it shifts my focus from thoughts and worries to my body and physical needs. I can see how regular meditative practice can influence health and mindful actions.
When the recording asks us to open our eyes, I am surprised by how easily the 26 minutes has passed and how different the atmosphere in the room feels. Not only am I calm, but also the whole space feels refreshing.
Certainly, meditation is a practice and therefore gets better with time. A woman behind me admits that she usually “sits” for 45 minutes to an hour regularly. I make a silent goal for myself to get there too.
In speaking with Javan after the class I learn even more reasons to include meditation as part of a daily routine. Javan stresses the importance of taking even just one “conscious breath” during a busy day to help feel more at ease and centred.
I leave the lunch hour meditation with the intent to return as soon as possible and admittedly, with a craving for avocado toast.