Positivity Project #3: Deep Breathing and Meditation (and My Experiences With Both)
In the past few months, I have noticed that I'm constantly being reminded of the importance of mediation and deep breathing exercises. Whether it be through advertisements on the bus for meditation centers or friends sharing their experience on social media, it seems like many people are turning to these activities to help with their health and well being . Try an internet search on ways to destress, clear your mind, be more positive etc and you will find meditation and deep breathing to be suggested in many of the search results.
In the Fall of 2014, I attended a workshop on Emotional Intelligence. The workshop was led by Angela Low, a Grad student in Human Development and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at The University of British Columbia. The most important part of the workshop was the discussion on "6 Seconds". Angela emphasized how important it is to take a 6 Second Pause when we are in a situation that has made us very emotional in a negative way (such as an argument or some kind of conflict). She mentioned that the actual live time of an emotion is 6 seconds and that any reaction before 6 seconds is an emotional one (and in this time we are very likely to say/do something that we may regret or might make the situation worse). This is why it is important to take a pause of 6 seconds to help us calm down and help in resolving the conflict. Angela specifically said that during these 6 seconds we should focus on taking deep breaths and engage our brains in thinking about something else. This particular workshop was aimed at parents and caregivers (although the information applies to everybody) and, as a nanny, I found this tip very useful. We all know that children can be difficult to deal with at times. When I find myself in situations where I am about to lose my patience with a child in my care, I think back to the 6 Seconds technique and I put it to use, taking 6 seconds for a few deep breaths and to focus on being positive. This tool is great for any situation whether it be a conflict with children, a partner, a co worker or a friend, just take a few deep breaths and you will notice that it really helps to regain composure.
A few days ago, seeing as I wanted to start the new year right and am on a "positivty kick", I took the opportunity to check out a meditation center (Kadampa Meditation Center in Vancouver) that is just minutes away from my home. I wasn't sure what to expect since I have never attended a meditation center and only explored meditation through YouTube videos and sound clips in my own home. The class I attended is part of a series called Transform Your Life and is based on teachings from a book of the same name and another book called How To Understand The Mind, both by Buddhist monk Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The one and a half hour class consists of a 5 minute guided meditation followed by a teaching by the center's extremely engaging resident teacher and local Vancouver monk Gen Sanden followed by another 5 minute guided meditation. I need to emphasize how casual and modern this class and Gen Sanden's approach was. There was some great advice given and information that everybody could benefit from hearing. I could relate to everything Gen Sanden was saying and could think of so many of my friends and family members that would benefit from attending a class like this. The attendees were constantly in hysterics by Gen Sanden's humor and I was constantly forgetting that this was a monk that was talking to us as it was so down to earth and not preachy at all (not saying that monks preach but just emphasizing the casual nature in case you have a preconceived notion that a class like this is very traditional and means being preached to). Even the center's advertisements highlight the modern nature of the classes and with the SkyTrain line running right alongside the building, the sound of the passing trains adds to the atmosphere. What really put a smile to my face was when Gen Sanden defined meditation as "familiarizing yourself with positive states of mind" and this is when I knew I was meant to attend the class. I was constantly wishing that my friends and family were all there to take in the great advice. I am definitely planning on attending more classes in the near future (and introducing my friends and family to them) and exploring meditation further. I highly recommend it to everybody. There is no harm in attending a class like this. They may not all be as casual as the one I attended but you will most likely walk away with very valuable advice and, maybe even some delicious tea and cookies (as they offered at this particular center). Do an internet search to find meditation centers near you and if you can't find any, Buddhist temples are an alternative and always very welcoming (although this may be in a more traditional manner - no harm in trying it out). Also, there is an abundance of meditation resources on YouTube that you can spend hours exploring including guided meditations to partake in from the comfort of your home.
Whether it be deep breathing, meditation, or another similar activity, clearing your mind is very beneficial to our health and well being and therefore helps us to be more positive and happier individuals. There is no harm in trying either!
I would love to hear feedback from any of you that have tried meditation (or considering it). And also please let me know if there are any other meditation centers or classes that I should check out! Feel free to contact me using the links above or by leaving a comment.
Lots more exciting stuff to come! Check back soon! :-)
SIDE NOTE: Those of you in Vancouver, there is a really great sounding public talk this upcoming Thursday January 15th by world renowned mediation teacher and Buddhist nun Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong. The topic is "Stop Stressing. Start Living" and is a highly anticipated event among the attendees of the meditation class I attended. Click here for more details and ticket information.