~ Breathe in
Reading Eman’s post on What Meditation’s Really Like, got me curious. I had tried meditating at home for 5-10 minutes but three hours of silent meditation? Challenge accepted.
During reading week, I attended Mindful Moments‘ “Exploring Mindfulness” – a Half-Day Meditation Retreat, free for U of T students. Initially hesitant, my nerves were calmed when I saw one of my classmates (Haley) who I share three classes with, but never really spoke to. We chose our yoga mats and sat down next to each other, in silence of course.
Checking In with our Bodies
Dr. Susitna Banerjee facilitated this first session of guided meditation with Tibetan bells that acted as signals if we chose to close our eyes. I think I fell asleep for at least 5 minutes while she calmly guided us to check in with every part of our body from toe to head. I wouldn’t say I’m sleep-deprived but the quality of the sleep I get feels sub-optimal from always being in GO-GO-GO mode.
Similar to Hart Houses’ drop-in Flexibility Fusion in which we focused on our breath, Melissa, a yoga instructor guided us to lead our body through stretches we often deprive our bodies of. It felt great and in a room full of people, exhaling in sync felt pretty powerful.
Midterm season felt like a blur of grabbing a bite to eat between classes – nutritious or not. I personally prefer eating at designated mealtimes and usually get hangry when I don’t.
Lauren guided us as we ate our lunch – selecting one item off our plate at a time and then observing it. Feeling it, thinking about where it came from, who planted it… I did that with a raspberry, and the texture was so weird. Eating mindfully instead of wolfing down food just because it was in front of me helped my body register when it was full and when to stop.
We paced our yoga mats – one step at a time. It felt as though I was learning how to walk again. I tried maximizing the surface area of my feet as I propelled myself through each step. This evenly-paced walking is something I want to implement between classes so that I don’t arrive to lectures frazzled.
Compassion and Loving-Kindness Meditation
I cried. In a room of strangers (silent retreat = small talk not encouraged), I cried. I know it may be flu-season but I heard sniffles throughout the room so I knew I wasn’t alone. Thomas, a fourth-year student, who facilitated the mindful walking guided us in picturing a version of ourselves that we felt most real in situations with people that we cared about and then to repeat affirmations to ourselves that really resonated with me. We then did the same by thinking about someone we care about and also someone we don’t see eye-to-eye with. This felt like the reset button that I had been searching for.
In three hours of almost complete silence, I learned that:
- I actually dislike raspberries
- Our lower-ribs actually extend sideways quite noticeably when inhaling
- and to take it easy
You can breathe out now ~