Why I Maintain a Formal Daily Meditation Practice, No Matter What
As a physical therapist, Dr. Helen Setyan has seen firsthand the mind's impact on the body. In her complementary work as a mindfulness practitioner, she enjoys discussing the mind-body connection, behavioral strategies to improve daily comfort and ease, bringing awareness into the body, and methods of anchoring ourselves to the present moment.
Here, she talks about finding personal freedom, her greatest teacher, and how three minutes of meditation is better than none at all.
Q: How did you find your meditation style, and why does it work so well for you?
A: I found Vipassana/insight meditation to be the most effective. I came across a book on my travels through India, then attended my first 10-day silent retreat. After years of exploring different methods, I found a pathway to personal freedom through the simple act of watching and paying attention to my body and sensations. Accepting everything as is, was a pathway to acceptance and peace within myself.
It works because it allows me to use myself as a resource. I don't have to look for anything outside myself besides my posture and attention. It feels as though I am the canvas and the medium to what I create on that cushion every time I sit.
Q: What's your top tip for a beginning meditator?
A: Be yourself! You don't have to lock yourself down or follow a specific shape or form. The only form one needs is discipline to show up. Allow yourself to be in any posture, thought, movement, or agitation when you begin until you find your way to stillness. The discipline is sticking to it all. Kick and scream your way into finding the right path for you.
Q: What does your daily meditation practice look like?
A: My daily formal meditation is always early in the morning. I perform a couple of stretches to prepare my body to sit comfortably. I use a nice big cushion to support my posture and my back, and I make sure I don't have any distractions for the allotted time. The amount of time I spend depends on my schedule, but I will still formally sit even if I only have three minutes.
During the day, I like to go on walks, and I use my walking as a form of meditation to get into my body and breath, even if it's just for one minute of my walk. The important part of my meditation practice is to perform something daily. It might not always be my preferred amount of time, but maintaining consistency is the priority.
Q: Who's had the most significant impact on your work?
A: Marianne Williamson became a role model for me in my early years of meditation practice. Her influence has allowed me to see the integration of all that is at play in our lives. Her writings and workshops have allowed me to find my voice and power in a way that is gentle but still impactful in my interpersonal relationships at home and work.
Q: What are the greatest benefits you've received from meditating?
A: Managing my emotions and the discomforts that life often presents. This has allowed me to develop more strength and confidence, and patience with myself and others. Meditating consistently also has improved my clarity and focus in my work. Being clear on my mission allows me to be more productive and efficient, which has allowed me to have a more improved work/life balance. The third most significant benefit is my improved sleep and overall wellbeing.
As you learn to build a practice, try this course, Introduction to Mindfulness by meditation teacher Curtis Smith.
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