Nervous to head home for the holidays? Ditto.
I love my family deeply, but there’s without a doubt a small dose of drama that raises my blood pleasure around Christmas each year. To add fuel to the fire, my closest confidantes know that there’s little about me that fits the “down to earth” bill.
On the outside, I may appear calm, cool, collected, and perhaps even a little sedate. But internally, I’m a walking anxiety time bomb. There a million thoughts constantly pacing across my mind and that mixed with the probing that certain family functions ignite is essentially a recipe for disaster.
And while I haven’t been to therapy or take medication to cope with my anxiety (you’re getting to know me very quickly), I do find mental clarity in exercise, particularly running, spinning, high-intensity interval training programs and other forms of cardio. They get me to sweat, feel good, and lose track of my thoughts.
So when a friend suggested I take up meditation recently, I was skeptical, but open.
To do so, I headed to New York City’s Inscape studio, where you walk in, take your shoes off, and hope to find your zen. Founded by former Intermix Founder CEO Khajak Keledijan, this pretty gorgeous space is designed to make super busy, ticking-time-bomb people like me calm the f— down.
After signing up online, comforting meditation pros greet you at the front entrance and within minutes, ask you step inside one of two dimly-lit rooms that make you feel like you’re Zoe Saldana running about the world of Avatar. There’s the Dome (above), geared toward seated meditation, and the Alcove (below), geared toward horizontal meditation.
I tried a 35-minute class called “Radiance: Mindfuless” (inside the Dome) that’s designed to help you keep a positive outlook to “share your light with others.” In it, you sit atop plush mats and a woman on a previously recorded speaker guides you through a series of countdowns and breathing techniques that are designed to whisk you into a peaceful, mindful state.
Honestly, I never achieved a state of absolute equilibrium that day. I thought about everything single thing going on in my life. I thought about my body, and how my neck hurt a little during those 35 minutes. I thought about what I’d plan to do later that day. And I thought about how I’d probably prefer to break a sweat and relax, not sit and try to mindfully think about being mindful.
After the class, I honestly felt a little more stressed out than usual, which is not what I expected.
But here’s what I’ve learned since: trying to find a sense of calm and serenity away from your anxieties isn’t going to happen in one 35-minute class, and it isn’t going to happen overnight.
Since that class, I’ve downloaded this studio’s free app, which allows you to step away from the madness of the world and participate in select classes at your convenience. Each session makes me feel better, and taking a minute to reflect has proven to be helpful. The breathing techniques are key, and while I could take these on more often, they’re helpful when I do.
The takeaway? You don’t have to drop a lump sum of dough or commute to a local meditation center to feel better when it all feels like too much. Sure, apps like Inscape are the foundation for learning to meditate. But at day’s end, when the stress of the holidays takes over, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and remind yourself that everything’s going to be alright.