attend a guided meditation class
Zero (if you look closely in your area)
Yesterday evening, I was sitting on a chair in a huge dark room. With 300 other people I had never met before. In silence. For 30 minutes.
Let me first tell you what brought me there.
I went to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation to meet with Mike, the friend of a friend who’s been helping me a lot in my job search but whom I’d never met.
Mike is a brilliant executive who recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area after 10 or more years in DC where he’s super introduced. Each time I meet someone, they know him.
Being also a yoga teacher, Mike suggested that we meet for a Vipassana guided meditation followed by a 1-hour class by a teacher, Tara Brach, I had never heard of before.
I didn’t google her prior to the event because Mike and I had planned to meet 30 minutes before its start. I thought saving my questions for him would be a good way to start a conversation.
But he didn’t show up on time so here I am, sitting on my chair, alone in this crowd, not knowing what to expect for the next hour and a half.
The teacher, a tiny blond, came into the room, sat on a cushion and started staring at us with a huge smile all over her face. There was almost no blank in her eyeballs, filled with a frank but soft deep blue.
I discovered after the class that this woman, an American psychologist, is an international authority and teacher of Buddhist meditation whose podcasts are downloaded more than 1.2 million times each month.
I gave her my full attention from the moment she started talking. Because her first words were: “Does everybody has a ride back home? “
After making sure everyone could carpool and make it home, Tara asked us to shake hands and introduce ourselves to our closest neighbors.
So when the lights turned off a couple minutes later, I knew that Nicky, Jennifer, Dave, Sarah, Jonathan and Brenda were sharing the silence with me.
After the meditation, Tara started talking about the theme of the day, self-compassion. She talked about how challenged we are by the pressure we put on ourselves.
To illustrate her point, she shared poems, anecdotes, jokes. Her talk was impressive and all people in the room were hanging on her words.
Tara is such a talented speaker that she gives you the impression that she’s talking to you, and you alone.
She encouraged each of us to think of a recent painful experience where we felt like we weren’t good enough. And pushed us to immerse ourselves in the memory of the event, using the RAIN method , a mindfulness tool that offers support to work with intense and difficult emotions.
Experiencing RAIN for the first time was intense. My sister Zaza Alaoui Mdaghri had tried to share the power of RAIN with me back in Morocco this summer but I didn’t realize how strong it was until yesterday. Thank you Zaza for trying
The questions that popped up to me during my meditation were: why do I challenge myself constantly? What is my drive? Am I not good enough?
I don’t have the answers yet but the experience was intense. It brought tears to my eyes, I connected to my inner self and now I know I have a couple things to work on.
Thank you, Tara. And thank you Mike for not showing up on time and for giving me this opportunity to be surprised.
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WHY IS IT SELF-CARE? Meditation is a way to connect to your inner self and meet with your core: the part of you that is not affected by your mood or the events of your daily life. Your core is always a quiet and peaceful place.
MORE ABOUT THIS
Attending a guided meditation class, especially if you’re a beginner, is a must.to help you develop basic meditation skills.
I’m very lucky to have Tara Brach leading free guided meditation in my neighborhood but I’m aware it’s a gift not everybody has.
However, check out the yoga studios in your area: a lot of them organize indoor or outdoor meditation classes. Sometimes, they’re free.
There are also a lot of meet-up groups (meetup.com) where you can meet people doing meditation together.
To get the most benefit of a class, make sure you’re wearing comfy clothes and arrive on time for a full session. Every moment is important during a meditation.