Paige Gilchrist Guided Meditation Event

What are some daily practices that you would encourage for setting intentions and practicing mindfulness?

Pick something you’re already drawn to, and build a short, regular practice around that. It could be journaling, sitting outside (or near a window) and watching the sun rise or set, or even mindful walking. Start with something you love or find nourishing, give it your full attention (even for just a few minutes), and let it be your doorway into feeling more present, grateful, and intentional.

What have you seen change in the last 3-5 years with regards to the need for mindfulness and meditation practices?

It’s interesting—yogic (and other) practices of mindfulness and meditation trace back thousands and thousands of years. Way back before social media and the 24-hour news cycle, people were evidently already feeling distracted, scattered, stressed, and disconnected—and looking for support. Our modern yearning for focus, peace, and connection to something more than our chattering minds certainly has a contemporary flavor, but those impulses seem to be ancient and universal, just like the practices.

What do you think are the biggest benefits that you have experienced from mindfulness, meditation, and yoga?

Don’t breathe a word of this to anyone who comes to my classes or listens to my free audio mediations and thinks I’m calm and centered (!), but I’m naturally a pretty anxious, high-strung person; it’s just the way I’m wired. All the tools of yoga, of which meditation and mindfulness are a part, help me cultivate the balance I need. They help me feel more grounded, more at ease, more regulated, and, most important, more connected to others.

How do you recommend people get started in meditation and yoga if they haven’t ever practiced or haven’t practiced in a while?

One of my teachers often quotes one of her teachers with this reminder:

“Start in an easy way. It will take you all the way, the way you learned to walk by walking and to talk by talking. Learn to love by loving.” — Swami Tattvavidananda

You don’t need a week-long retreat or expensive clothes or special equipment or prior experience. What can be most helpful when you’re starting out or returning after a break is the support of a teacher and a community. Contact a local yoga studio or meditation group (nowadays, you can find them everywhere from Buddhist organizations and VA hospitals to churches) and ask what introductory classes or series they have that are beginner friendly. Then make a commitment to attend a class or a session regularly for a month or so—enough time to gain some familiarity with the practices so you can settle in and decide for yourself what parts feel supportive (or challenging in a good way), then build slowly and easily from there. Better yet, get a friend or loved one to commit to this exploration with you!

I would also love it if you have any other resources you can share? In the spirit of keeping things simple and of starting in an easy way, let me recommend just a few resources to begin with:

  • One of the most accessible and lovely books I know on the topic is The Miracle of Mindfulness by the beloved Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a slim little volume that is clear, encouraging, down to earth, and beautifully wise.
  • Although it’s so nice to practice in person with teachers and others, there are also many wonderful online and audio resources available today. I’ll shamelessly endorse my favorite, Insight Timer, which is a free meditation app featuring thousands of practices of all kinds. You’ll find nearly 100 of my own Embodied Meditation audio practices there—they each weave together gentle movement and quiet mindfulness. You can also find my free audio practices through Embodied Meditation on Spotify, Apple podcast, or wherever you listen.
  • Visit a local yoga studio! Yoga teachers are such great resources. Most of us have a depth of knowledge about and experience with meditation and mindfulness practices and often have lots of community connections, so we can probably guide you. Many, like myself, also offer private sessions if you’d like some one-on-one time.

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