If you have ever walked through Santa Monica on a Saturday morning, you have probably witnessed what I like to call "bliss hour." Bliss hour happens right around 11am when all the yogis, spinners, earth mammas, Runion hikers, and runners emerge for brunch. The thing I love about "bliss hour" is that everyone looks sweaty, bright, and totally relaxed.
However, bliss hour sometimes feels a little lonely to me. I've often wondered how all us Type A, Angelinos suddenly reach relaxation so quickly. Don't get me wrong, I am OBSESSED with yoga. But after almost 10 years of practicing I find myself focusing less on my physical practice and more on my mental practice. However, the more I turn inward the more I realize I need help finding my way.
Now, most people assume that all therapists in LA are experts at meditation and mindfulness. And there are many wonderful therapists who are. However, I'll be the first one to admit that I am still learning to quiet my mind, sit in silence, and turn inward.
Recently, I've been teaching many of my teenage clients to turn inward and practice mindfulness skills. One awesome resource I've found is the Relaxation Series from Dartmouth College (https://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html). These downloads are awesome for teens who are often on the go because they can keep them on their Ipod. The Topics include, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization exercises and more. And while these relaxation downloads are amazing, I often find myself craving a more present way to calm my own mind.
Thus, last week I challenged myself to try Unplug Meditation on Wilshire in Santa Monica. Unplug is a meditation studio right in the heart of Santa Monica. I was incredibly nervous at first to go (yes, therapists get scared too), but as soon as I stepped into the studio I was glad I arrived. The studio was a calm, clean, and relaxing environment. The staff was incredibly welcoming and I was especially impressed by the fact that the owner Suze Yalof Schwartz was there to greet us. Suze told us a little bit about her story, saying that she created the studio so that anyone could learn to practice meditation.
I chose to to the 30 minute meditation class for my first time. There were about 9 other folks in the class and the room was incredbly calm. The instructor lead us through the first few minutes, and then let us sit alone in silence. I"ll admit, it was incredibly difficult for me to sit in silence for that long. However, I learned that this is part of my own work, and I am excited to continue letting myself still still.
After only 1/2 hour of Meditation I realized.....I need to do more meditation. This might sound like the smallest realization, and I am sure you were expecting me to say something about inner peace or something. But what I realized most about attending mediation at Unplug is this...it is so incredibly important for each of us to take time to be with ourselves. Last week, I chose meditation. However, this week I may choose a beach walk or a yoga class. Either way I think the theme is the same...if we show up for ourselves every day...we may just get to have "bliss hour" more than just on Saturday mornings.