How Can We Turn Down The Noise?
If you’ve never taken a yoga class with Paige Gilchrist you are sorely missing out. Several of us on staff at Wake Foot Sanctuary have independently floated into the shop on a blissed-out yoga cloud thanks to Paige’s incredible guidance and intuition. We were beyond excited to get a chance to speak with her about the importance of meditation and the difficulty we face taking time out for ourselves.
What did your studying yoga teach you about meditation?
I was actually a meditator (in the Zen Buddhist tradition) before I became so immersed in yoga. Now I see them as perfect companions. It’s no surprise the ancient yogis developed all the physical postures of yoga—which also has many non-physical aspects—as a way to prepare the body to sit in meditation. And in my modern, sitting-oriented, movement-deprived life, I really do see my physical yoga practice as a moving, 3-D meditation. It’s just as important to me as time spent sitting on the meditation cushion.
What other activities are meditative for you?
I love what the beloved meditation teacher, writer, poet, and activist Thich Nhat Hanh teaches about the potential for every act to be a “rite” or mindfulness ceremony: washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, drinking tea, talking to friends. His idea is that, although a formal sitting practice is extremely valuable, we can’t cram all the mindfulness we need in our lives into the small amount of time we’re able to carve out for actual sitting meditation. For me, the real practice—and it’s definitely a practice—is in attempting to be completely present and aware during the ordinary moments, the boring moments, the button-pushing moments, all of them. (Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic, The Miracle of Mindfulness, is a great place to start for those interested in exploring these topics.)
How do you find a meditative space?
I think it’s wonderful to create even a pocket of space—it can be just a windowsill or a part of a shelf—that becomes a little altar of support for a more mindful approach to life. These places can become very powerful symbols and reminders—little energy centers. Mine is a small table at the top of a stairway where I bring in all the natural elements: fire (a candle), air (incense), earth, and water (rocks and a small bud vase of flowers or greenery from outside). It’s also where I keep an ever-changing collection of books, images, and other objects I find inspiring or nourishing. But I don’t mean for this to sound lofty or like a Pinterest-worthy tableau. The happy reality of my life right now is that I share my none-too-extravagant space with a husband, a pre-teen, a menagerie of pets, and abundant schedules. Often, the path around my “meditative space” is a thoroughfare, so part of my practice is to not get gripped or thrown if I need to roll out my yoga mat in the dining room while everyone else is upstairs sleeping, or sneak off to my little corner office beside the kitchen with my meditation cushion. I try to see it all as an extension of the everyday “rites” Thich Nhat Hanh talks about, as real-life mindfulness.
How has meditation added value to your life?
I’m a type-A planner, list-maker, and do-er who has spent a lot of life worshipping at the altar of efficiency and productivity. My meditation and yoga practices help keep me grounded in the everyday miracles of what is rather than spinning off into a frenzy of all there is to do. They have also connected me with amazing communities of people who offer support and inspiration. Stopping and reconnecting with our quieter, more still selves is not a luxury but a critical part of tapping into our inherent state of well-being. Thank you for providing that opportunity and for including me in the conversation!
As we mentioned before, you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice not to see Paige in person and experience her class. Below is her current schedule with the specific studio location.
Mondays, 10:30-11:45 AM, Gentle Restorative Yoga, Asheville Yoga Donation Studio
Mondays, 7:15-8:30 PM, Gentle Restorative Yoga, Asheville Yoga Center
Thursdays, 10:30-11:45 AM Gentle Restorative Yoga, Asheville Yoga Donation Studio
Sundays, 5:30-6:45 PM, Yoga Basics (great for beginners!), Asheville Yoga Center