'Mindfulness' is a buzz word that's come up a lot this year in the media, with a lot of hype surrounding the perplexing art of mastering your mind. Not only does it make up a whole lesson in the GRLKND program, it's also a tool that pretty much every successful person uses to master themselves. To me, mindfulness means gently being aware of your thoughts and acknowledging everything that passes through, which is actually the purpose of meditation. I personally have always been drawn to the idea of being more aware of my thoughts and learning to control them to achieve an overall calm, positive, emotionally intelligent disposition. So, I sought out the best, and the best were here in New York City, at a studio called MNDFL.
My first experience with MNDFL was the day after I landed in NYC, a perfect time for me to take the time out to acknowledge my tensions and to be grateful and present. Whilst travelling every week is me living my dreams, sometimes I am so overwhelmed, I forget how lucky I am, and what my personal mission is. It's easy to live passively and go through the motions of regular life, waking and sleeping again without reflecting on your success, your tribulations and your emotions. When I walked through the second floor entrance of MNDFL's Upper East Side studio, I was greeted by manager Arianna in a space filled with sunshine, light timber and living walls. I dropped the weight of my bags and my shoes and even my phone at the coat racks and went for a tour of the beautiful studio that's fitted with everything a meditation newbie would need in order to feel comfortable; tea, blankets, cushions and ceiling lights.
The first class I undertook was MNDFL 'breath,' which both myself and MNDFL recommend for first-timers, as a 30 minute introductory, signature class, perfect for grounding you in the here and now, 'like a cold shower on a hot summer's day.' Initially, I struggled to keep my eyes closed, as I am a highly observant and curious person, learning with sight, but the sound of my instructor's voice was calming enough for me to trust in the process. She talked us through how to focus attention on the breath, follow the breath and acknowledge any discomfort or distractions. What was most interesting to me, was that even the most vetted meditation practitioners are still distracted by any of the five hindrances at any time, such as drowsiness, which I experienced heavily. I also was distracted by my thoughts: 'I forgot to text her back, I have to post that article, I'm so hungry, what city am I in again, etc'. But apparently, just being aware of this distraction is enough, and then you come back to your breath.
After this introductory class, which you can experience for just $10, by the way, you can try various other guided sessions like heart, sound bath, mantra, emotions, energy, intentions, which are all just as valuable. Just like a muscle being worked at the gym, meditation practice takes a lot of time to master. It is a truism however, that once you understand the fundamentals, you can practice wherever, whenever and utilise these thought-acknowledging skills daily. I have learnt that for me, meditation is important because I need to start acknowledging any negative assumptions that cross my mind, because these are my biggest limitations. Often, as a perfectionist, I assume, 'I'm not good enough, they won't understand my work, I won't feel appreciated, things might go wrong, etc'. However, as a beginner in mindfulness, just simply being aware of these assumptions is a significant advance towards happiness, and for that I am truly grateful.
Thank you MNDFL for sparking a light in an area I once ignored, because I will never be the same. I intend to continue the practice of meditation as often as I can, many times a day, every day, in order to be a better person, in control of my mind - the most powerful tool I have.