Last week, I attended a meditation class at MNDFLmeditation in the East Village in NYC. As it turns out, coastal cities have drop-in meditation studios and they are lovely. MNDFL is a graceful little studio-- a bright clear space with white-washed brick walls, comfy furnishings in soothing shades of gray and shiny wood floors.
The class I took was for beginners-- a heart-based meditation. I attend meditation classes for a couple of reasons. So I can learn and so I can steal ideas to bring to my students. There were about twenty of us arranged around the studio room with a variety of props. The props were similar to what you might find in a yoga studio: woven Mexican blankets, cushions, blocks and also a meditation chair which is a cushion with a back rest attached. I like to have back support and was almost peer pressured into not grabbing one, but at the last minute I did and I did not regret it.
The teacher, Marcela Clavijo, talked to us for a while and encouraged self-acceptance and other useful concepts before having us settle in for the guided meditation. During the guided meditation portion, Marcella suggested going back and forth between two emotional goal posts. She told us to think about a situation where we might feel ashamed or guilty. She suggested trying something fairly superficial like that time you forgot to send a thank you note and you're still dwelling on it. From there we were to pivot to a time when we felt proud or accomplished like the time when someone tells you one of your blog posts really resonates for them. Then we practiced flashing back and forth between the two posts.
Marcela cautioned us not to go too deep too quickly. Staying superficial at the beginning is important and I can see why. Just remembering a couple of trivial situations (one that triggered shame and one that triggered pride) stirred up an onslaught of emotions.
This was a very different experience for me. I am used to looking for the stillness when I meditate. This meditation agitated me. It made me uncomfortable. I say this not as a criticism, but as an objective observation. I'll try this again sometime on my own, but I will be cautious. It's a really powerful meditative venture and one that demands the respect of the practitioner.
If you get a chance to stop by MNDFL, I highly recommend it. Can't wait until I can go back!