[LQ] You made a conscious decision to improve an area of your life, what was this decision and how old were you when you made it?
[CG] This decision actually came to me as a gift. The sweet gift of meditation! I was around 24 years old, and I was travelling through a magical town called San Marcos La Laguna in Guatemala. I was walking around the tiny village and discovered this giant pyramid like structure. I saw that they hosted yoga and meditation classes there. I went and attended a class that evening. That class changed my life!
[LQ] Before making this decision, did you know much about meditation?
[CG] I knew a bit. I had been practicing yoga for many years prior to this, so, in a way, I was used to practicing a moving meditation and was used to trying to cultivate presence. As far as “be completely still and clear your mind” seated meditation, I had little experience. It was (and still is) incredibly difficult!
[CG] After experiencing that one class in that pyramid in Guatemala, I knew this was something I had to explore more of. And so, I signed up for a one month metaphysics intensive there. It had a strong focus on mediation. We meditated for an hour during sunrise, a bit throughout the day, and then sat for one more longer mediation in the evening. I felt incredibly powerful when that month was up. My mind was so much clearer. It was like the brain fog was lifted. I had never experienced clarity up until that point. I felt like I had super powers! I didn’t want to go back to my wishy-washy, hard to make decisions, scared, anxiety-ridden self. So, I continued with the practice.
[LQ] Did you find it difficult at first? Do you find it difficult today?
[CG] Yes and yes. On the surface, it seems like the easiest thing in the world. Sit down and do absolutely nothing. MY GOODNESS, HOW HARD THIS CAN BE! It kind of comes and goes in waves. Sometimes, if I’ve been practicing regularly, it can be easier. Lately, I haven’t been practicing as much, so my monkey mind races very easily. The important thing is to not be upset by the thoughts. Non-reactivity is key.
[LQ] Is there anything extraordinary about you that would allow you to incorporate meditation into your life that would prevent others from doing so?
[CG] Absolutely not. My mind races. My imagination goes into some pretty interesting places sometimes. I quite frequently experience anxiety and, occasionally, depression. Mediation helps with all of these things SO, SO MUCH.
[LQ] What has been some of the biggest benefits you have seen with meditation?
[CG] So many! Clarity, a better understanding of myself and who I am, peace, relaxation, freedom, a decrease in anxiety, less stress, better sleep, creativity sparks, the ability to not give a fuck… The list goes on and on!
[LQ] Was there anything that surprised you along the way?
[CG] Yes. After experiencing all the benefits of mediation, I’d thought I’d found a magical cure all! I thought, “Well, I’m meditating now, and it’s working. All of my problems are gone!” This is not necessarily the case. Throughout the years, I’ve learned that mediation is just like any other relationship in your life. Sometimes it’s strong and flowing and elicits instant gratification. But, sometimes, no matter how hard you want to meditate, you just can’t. Or things get really busy. Or things get really exciting. And you put it down for a bit. Then things go from exciting to hectic and your monkey mind needs taming again. And you pick it back up. The hardest challenge I’ve been faced with is developing a regular practice. Mediation is a beautiful tool. But, just because you’ve meditated once (or even one hundred times), that doesn’t mean you’re “cured.” You have to continue the practice in order to reap the benefits![LQ] Do you use any apps or guided meditations that you would recommend for others?
[CG] The only app that I use at the moment is a timer on my phone. I find it’s best to decide on a set amount of time (10 minutes, 30 minutes, hell, maybe even an hour) and dedicate yourself to sitting that long. Youtube has gazzilions of guided meditations, and they are really useful! Because of the overwhelming amount of options, however, my advice would be to tune and in and figuring out WHY you wish to meditate. What do you wish to cultivate? Maybe it’s to combat anxiety, maybe it’s to cultivate self love, maybe it’s to develop focus. Search for a guided meditation that caters to that need. Deepak Chopra and Louise Hay are just two people that come to my mind that have great guided meditations.[LQ] What advice would you give to someone who wants to start meditating, but has been hesitant to do so?
[CG] Just start! And if it seems overwhelming, start slow! Sitting in silence for just five minutes a day on a regular basis is far more beneficial than meditating for a whole hour and then never doing it again. In today’s world, it’s so easy to adopt the mentality that you must do things full on all the time. Slow and steady, friends! Just five minutes a day can do so, so much good for your mental and emotional well being. If even this seems intimidating, no worries! The internet is here to help! As I mentioned above, take a second, decide what you wish to bring in to your life, and find a guided meditation that resonates with you. Or seek out support of others. There are so many classes, teachers, and groups out there. Find one to hold yourself accountable. Making a habit of it is key! Lastly, please don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come easy at first. Thoughts will come! That is ok- we are human! Be kind and gentle to yourself. And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for choosing change and for helping yourself grow!
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