I try to meditate every morning, so I’m pretty familiar with the whole process. Yet for some reason, the idea of a meditation class seemed way out of my comfort zone. I mean, sitting cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed next to complete strangers definitely takes a leap of faith. But when I saw that a meditation studio near me had a $10 first class special, I figured ‘when in Rome’ (or in this case, when in New York City). I went on their website, ‘booked my cushion,’ and went to bed.
When my alarm jolted me awake the next morning, I realized I had a huge dilemma—what does one wear to a meditation class? When I meditate at home, I’m usually still in my pajamas, but somehow I didn’t think that’d fly here. Nor did I want to subject everyone on the A train to my pajama choice that morning. After some deliberation, I settled on a comfy pullover sweatshirt and a pair of leggings: an ideal outfit for sitting on the floor for 30 minutes like I was about to.
As I walked into the studio, I was immediately met with a wave of calm energy. I put my stuff in a cubby, grabbed a glass of water, and took in my surroundings. The studio was filled with bright sunlight, and there were lush green plants everywhere. Then I sized up my fellow meditators. Some seemed to be regulars, but there were a few other newbies like me who walked timidly up to the front desk. The coolest part was that these people seemed to be from all walks of life—definitely not the earthy-crunchy vibe you might expect.
The meditation teacher called us into a side room in a light, soothing voice and instructed us to find the cushion number that we had booked. I found mine and settled in, trying to ignore the shifting and sighing of the guy next to me, who was clearly new to meditation. His noises, the other distractions in the room slowly fell away as I focused on the teacher’s guidance. She took us through a ‘heart opening’ meditation which focused on sending love and compassion to ourselves, our friends and family, and even the people in our lives we’re not so fond of.
I’ve got to be honest, this wasn’t the type of meditation I’m used to. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about visualizing these people and ‘sending them love.’ But I decided to just go with it. I tried to stay with the instructor’s voice and keep my mind clear. Surprisingly, the 30-minute class flew by. When I opened my eyes, I realized just how relaxed I’d actually gotten. I felt almost woozy as I walked back into the main studio space.
I guess I was still pretty blissed-out as I left, because the next thing I knew I was slamming my full body into the studio’s glass door. I totally thought it was open. Normally I would’ve been totally embarrassed, and I was still a little bit, but I couldn’t help laughing. As I walked out (for real this time) I was reminded that having a clear, centered mind makes it a lot easier to let things roll right off of your back.
I have to confess I still prefer meditating on my own, but I’m glad I tried the class. And I’ll definitely go back, at the very least to see if I can avoid embarrassing myself in front of 30 strangers.
Written By: Kara Cuzzone