Meditation in the fast world. Is it really possible? Especially with how busy and complicated our lives have become? How is it even possible to meditate to relax and focus inward when we are so attached to our devices? Like our mobile phones, headphones and wireless earbuds, GPS health trackers and more! I wouldn't have been able to answer this question for you until I started learning more about meditation and relaxation due to the trend I began to see growing (and which continues to grow) in New York City. My forecast is that it will soon reach the city you live in. Are you ready to relax more?
In November of 2016, it seemed like all of a sudden meditation studios were popping up all around Manhattan, and I'm not talking about Buddhist type meditation rooms and sanctuaries. New York has a ton of those already that cater to a more traditionally zen crowd. What I'm talking about is more in the vein of "modern meditation", if you will. It caters to more mass market, every day people who work long hours, enjoy the casual happy hour and their favorite ESPN or Bravo shows. They're not necessarily Zen-istas. But they're on the brink of losing it unless they incorporate some relaxation methods into their life. Pretty typical for the New Yorker, but until now, for these types of people, it's pretty much just been about going to the spa or booking a retreat somewhere in Tulum.
The need for modern meditation that doesn't overwhelm the masses with complicated mantras, but instead calms all the anxiety in their head, has produced two very popular establishments called Inscape and MNDFL. I went to both and they blew me away. That's me (in the pic above), having a peaceful moment at Inscape, before everyone else poured into the room.
The Inscape space located in New York's Flatiron district is what I can only describe as galactic in design. The group meditation rooms are spectacular, colorfully lit and dreamy. You can tell a lot of money was put into this venture, and the experience makes it so worth it. First timers can get 2 classes for $18 (you might have to ask about this special) or a month of unlimited sessions for $100.
What I enjoyed about it were all the different kinds of meditation experiences offered. I went to a session called Deep Sounds, which was all about going on a sound journey into relaxation. The sounds played over an incredible speaker system that surrounded the room, consumed me and made me forget about everything else in my life. It was fantastic!
Most of the guided meditations at Inscape are pre-recorded and played through their incredible audio system. The voice you hear is soothing and I really liked that it wasn't coming from a real person that I had to focus on. It allows you to close your eyes and take the relaxation cues without any judgments.
MNDFL, with one location near Washington Square Park in Manhattan and another on the Upper East Side, takes a different approach. They offer less of an audio-visual experience like Inscape and more of a small group therapeutic experience. I participated in a meditation before Christmas and learned how to comfort my inner child to avoid any holiday drama while visiting and engaging with relatives. The experience came in handy and the meditation was so interesting--both stimulating and relaxing if that's even possible. At MNDFL, your first class is $10 and then it goes up to $18.
I tend to be quite antsy and restless, so it's very difficult for me to get into the mood or what many call the "relaxation zone". Whether you're going to group session or just meditating at home...
I recommend the following to achieve the most relaxing experience:
(( 1 )) Set aside a time that works for you to medidate where you won't be disturbed for 12-15 minutes. Or, sign up for a session at a meditation studio, they can range from 30-90 minutes with 30 minutes being the norm.
(( 2 )) Make a caffeine-free tea or better yet my favorite calming, anti-stress drink from Natural Calm. It's a magnesium powder blend that you mix with water (I like to drink it hot like a tea) and it comes in a yummy raspberry lemon flavor. You'll gradually start to feel it's affects. It's the same kind of release you get from taking a hot bath with bath salts (Natural Calm Bath). Some meditation studios will let you bring your own tea into the space or will offer their own blends to you there for free.
(( 3 )) Grab a cushion, pillow or blanket that you can get comfortable with. Sit up against a wall to start so that your back is really straight. Sit cross legged if you can and gently rest your hands however you like on your knees (palms can be up or down). Try to release the feeling to scratch, adjust or wiggle.
(( 4 )) Don't try so hard. It gets easier the more you do it. It's not supposed to take any effort but it kind of does to really "let go".
Relaxation can be such a foreign concept to many of us because we feel like we have to be plugged in. We don't want to be left behind. It's all about keeping up with trends and technology, right?
Well, in this case, meditation IS trending. So consider yourself officially plugged in, especially if you attend a group session. And of course, the tech world gives us plenty of solutions for which you won't even have to put your phone away. In the video above, you'll see me talk through some of my favorites, which I have listed below with some additional ones I discovered after appearing on the show. They range from 7 seconds to a 20-minute commitment.
- Thync (head & neck gadget)
- Inscape App (free)
- End Anxiety App (free)
- 7s Meditation App (free)
- Relax Melodies App (free)
- Welzen App (free)
- Aura App (free)
- The WellBe bracelet
You'll know meditation is for you if you've been experiencing anxiety, abnormal stress levels, sudden weight gain in your midsection (from increased cortisol levels), weight loss, depression, inability to focus or concentrate and abnormal behaviors like anxiety eating, loss of sleep and unstable temperament.
But what you should really know is that these symptoms are NORMAL. It happens to all of us. So, don't stress about the stress. Just do something about it! As I've mentioned, it does take a bit of work but it's really gratifying when you can finally breathe and create some space for yourself. It becomes the feel good fitness class that doesn't require any sweating--and I can't think of anything better!
So what do you think? Are you ready to slow down for a bit? Anxious to hear your thoughts in the comments section about Inscape, MNDFL, Natural Calm and just meditation overall.