This post was written by Nina Riggle.
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I came to meditation through the path of a moving yoga practice. I began to practice yoga in my mid-20’s when the museum I worked for offered it on a weekly basis at a low cost. Soon after I began these weekly classes a friend and mentor began to explore her path as a yoga instructor. I was ready to expand my practice and support my friend on her path. I began to study with her as she learned the tricks and trade of helping people on the path of yoga. I remember the first time she said, “Today we are going to meditate.” I immediately thought, “There is no possible way that this mind, this monkey mind, this jumbled mess of thoughts, criticism and worry could ever sit and accomplish anything more than hatred and self pity.” But I sat. Eight minutes. Eight long blessed minutes. The minutes ticked by but when it ended, it actually wasn’t that bad and didn’t seem to take as long as I thought. Throughout the experience I continued to swipe away my distracting thoughts like apps on my phone. I found that I was able to experience brief moments of peace. Peace from my overactive thoughts. I have continued my yoga practice, which includes meditation, to this day. I am eternally grateful to my friend and yogi, as well as myself, because I believe that it is through these practices that I began to find a way to save my own life.
A moment of clarity came in a state of complete intoxication during the wee morning hours. A fit of desperate rage and the deepest of depressions simultaneously washed over me like a tsunami. However, my yoga practice gave me the ability to have a moment, one single solitary moment during which I was able to see what was unfolding in front of me. In that moment I knew that was not what I wanted for myself. I knew there was something more, which essentially saved my life. I took the first step toward leaving that lifestyle behind me. In ten days, I packed up my entire life and moved myself away from the people and places that triggered the addictions within me. I continued my yoga practice as I secluded myself in recovery. I had extremely limited contact with the outside world as I continued my daily practice.
Yoga got me in touch with many minute parts of my body. I gained control of muscles I was not previously aware of. I had spent most of my adult life trying to control my world and I never realized that I didn’t even have control of my own body. During my recovery I read through many of my childhood journals and began to dissect each painful memory. As I turned these thoughts over in my mind, I become more aware and mindful of my responses to them. I began to see these memories and experiences in a similar way to the individual muscles in my body. I regained power over these negative thought patterns. The experiences I had as a child became less powerful and no longer triggered my addictions. As I moved through my recovery and began to reenter the world, life got busy and my practice fell away, as will happen. I moved back to a lover and a life that I thought I would never have. While this move was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with my practice, I failed to see it and began to isolate myself. After a few years my love and I got married and had a child. After having my daughter, I knew I needed to find myself yet again, not just for me but for her. I had given myself wholly to this child just as I had given myself completely to my addiction. And while a it’s a way better thing to do for a child than a bottle, I had once again forgotten what I was trying to do for myself.
Through wonderful experiences in Qi Gong and Yoni classes, I experienced my first confirmed sensations of the flow of prana or qi, life energy. These experiences encouraged me to share the gift of meditation with a few friends. I began a daily meditation practice and in less than a year have completely transformed my life. I cannot express the infinite benefits I have received from meditation, including the inspiration to start my own business.
Meditation 101 is my chance to share the transformational benefits of meditation. If even just quieting the mind for a moment. During this workshop, we will discuss and experience the benefits of meditation. I will share scientific observations that have documented regarding meditation. You will participate in a full body relaxation and discover muscles you didn’t even know you were contracting or holding. We will discuss what it means to be mindful and sit to experience quiet mindfulness from a cushion. After each meditation we will gather to share experiences. I hope you will join me. I look forward to walking with you on your path.