Like many people, I’ve experienced my share of rough times and setbacks. To help me process the stress, I began looking for information and tactics that other successful people have implemented with positive outcomes. In my ongoing search for coping strategies, I read and gathered material from many noteworthy sources, including scientists, medical practitioners, educators, and spiritualists — all of whom I give credit to in my published research work.
What surprised me was that a great deal of these experts pointed to meditation practices as effective coping skills. They supported their positions by adding that meditation also helps to improve an individual’s health and well-being. During the time I was conducting this research, the stress from the emotional roller coaster that was my life was beginning to take a toll on my physical health, and my immune system under constant attack. I knew I had to make changes because I was an independent parent, motivated to succeed and continue providing stability for my family. The problem, however, was finding the time in an already busy schedule to incorporate meditation as a regular practice.
I was brought up with the traditions of a Greek Orthodox Christian. Although it is a culture that is rich in ceremony and ritual, meditation is not included as part of this spiritual order. In other words, meditation was a foreign concept to me. In fact, before I became educated on the practice, I believed it was a spiritual ritual of Eastern religions. I was naïve and under the impression that practicing meditation went against my religious views as a Greek Orthodox Christian. This made me fearful of the practice, so I avoided it for years.
I was actually introduced to meditation techniques as an undergrad at the University of Arizona. As a Fine Arts Major in Theater production, to enhance our performance skills, we were introduced to various relaxation techniques and attended movement classes that included exercises developed to help quiet the mind. This was to help us as actors to focus inward to open and explore deeper levels of awareness. These techniques were meant to sharpen our skills as consummate performers.
Other fellow student performers also included yoga as an integral part of their training. However, I was young, closed-minded and highly opinionated. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t take the practice of yoga seriously for body training. In fact, I made fun of it. The truth is I was uneducated about yoga. In addition, at the time, I did not think it was effective for building body strength as part of a fitness program. I lacked motivation and quickly lost interest to learn more about it.
It wasn’t until after I received my BFA and moved to L.A. that I would learn more about yoga from friends in the entertainment industry. To keep physically fit, many attended weekly yoga classes and seeing the results from the instructor, I was motivated to join in and learn more as well. I must confess the sessions were extremely challenging! After taking those classes, I had a new respect for everyone that practices this discipline and had to apologize to all the friends who workout with yoga I called wimpy! Thank goodness my experiences earlier life with gymnastics, dance, and ballet came in handy because Yoga, I discovered, was based on stretching and breathing techniques. The bonus I did not plan on from this experience, was that after each class, our instructor, Yogi John, included a short meditation as part of the relaxation and cool down process from the challenging burn of the yoga class. This is when I really started to learn more about the art of meditation, which in fact did NOT go against any of my religious or spiritual views … but we’ll wrap things up for now and save that discussion for another time.
Have a great weekend everyone and keep reaching for your highest potential!
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” ― Paulo Coelho