Finding Zen in the City

Honest--and sometimes comical--daily stories of reflection and inspiration.

Meditation, Not Medication

Reset your mind and see your life clearly.

 

The other day I opened my eyes from a short nap during meditation class. My instructor, Yogi Allen Finger, chuckled.

"Welcome to New York City Ashram," he cooed. Half-conscious, I giggled.

"With all its nutty people and situations," Alan started, "New York is the perfect place to work out your karma."

Karma or Dharma? I wondered. I always get them confused. Alan clarified later:
"Our Dharma includes the situations we are born into in this life to work out our karma." Of course!

I guess when cabbies try to run me off the road, or a work project hits a snag, I'm being presented with the exact experiences I need to grow.

"Don't react with your ego," Alan instructed of dharmic scenarios. "React with your spirit."

My spirit is what I'd just spent an hour trying to connect with in stillness through pins, needles, and stomach growls.

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"One's spirit is one's consciousness," Alan told me. "The ego is developed as our consciousness is exposed to the mind and five senses. Eventually, our ego becomes totally colored by those experiences, causing us to think that whatever we have been exposed to and claimed to be ours, is who we are."

But that's all wrong, he said. Meditation helps us hit the reset buttons on our minds so we can erase all our egos' programming. Then we get to connect to our authentic selves. You know, like the young girl in me who liked to sing in front of mirrors and let the school boys chase after me. Wow, meditation is really working.

Several months ago I took a break from Allen Finger's meditation classes. The result wasn't pretty. I found myself way too deep in my own head. One evening, I was in an elevator talking out loud to myself. I didn't notice the doors open, and found myself face-to-face with three people gawking at me like I'd just escaped Bellevue. I hustled out of the elevator and spent the next 10 minutes reassuring myself that everyone talks to his or herself once in a while. (Just not as loud as I do.)

After that, I knew it was time to sign up for Finger's classes again.

I'm a firm believer that meditation is better than medication. Throw yoga classes into the mix, and you've found an elixir for pure happiness and well-being.

Many of you are already aware of Ishta Yoga, one of my favorite meditation spots. But if you can't make it there at 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, take a few minutes today to hit your mind's reset button at work and check out these videos:

How to Meditate—a great primer

Alan Finger talking about releasing tension

Do you have a favorite meditation video, CD, spot, or teacher? Share it here and I'll add it!

 

Ilana Donna Arazie is a video columnist and blogger looking for meaning and zen in New York City.

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