Oglebay Institute offers a heck of a lot of classes. Art, dance, acting, nature—a wide array of choices. There’s something for just about everyone. If you want to make art glass, they can arrange that. If you want to identify birds, they can help you. Build a rain barrel? Stay tuned for the May blog on that one. And last Sunday, I attended a Meditation, Mindfulness, and Energy Medicine Workshop.
It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m wound a little tightly. My friends and family toss around words like anxious, neurotic, and obsessive-compulsive. I like to have things done on a schedule, well ahead of time, and I plan for every possible contingency. Flu running around? I’ve got your biohazard suit. Possibility of escaped rhino? There’s a rhino-tazer in my car. And if an asteroid ever hits the earth, come to my house. I’ll have you covered.
But all of this high-strung energy isn’t really a beneficial thing. In my quest to be ever-ready and on alert, I miss out on some of life’s quiet, joyful moments. I’m so busy trying to survive my day that my body remains in a state of tension. Often I feel run-down and generally exhausted. This mindfulness thing that everybody’s talking about, how do I get some?
The answer is meditation. Studies show that regular meditation lowers blood pressure, beefs up your immune system, and improves concentration. It’s been shown to lessen pain, and, as a significant stress-reducer, can positively affect many health conditions including heart disease and ADHD.
I’ve meditated in the past. In fact, several years ago I kept a regular meditation schedule for several months, and I felt great. But, as with all good habits, we must remain devoted to the practice. It’s hard to put down our devices and find a quiet fifteen minutes, time that could be spent paying a bill, taking a power nap, or defrosting a pot roast. Predictably, I fell off the meditation wagon and have been meaning to climb back on for two years now. It’s been on my “to do” list forever. Tomorrow I’ll meditate, I always think.
In reality, we often need a little help maintaining good habits. Enter Dr. Rebecca Fahey, a medical doctor of public health and epidemiology as well as a meditation and health coach. She leads this workshop at Oglebay Institute on the first Sunday of each month. She’s had shamanic training and lives with her husband and young daughter here in Wheeling.
The class was held at OI’s School of Dance where we found comfortable places to sit and chatted amongst ourselves. None of the participants had much meditation experience, so Rebecca began by explaining why we were there. “Mind needs structure,” she told us. “Mind needs order. And once we begin to do that within ourselves, then the outside world becomes more of what it is in reality: a reflection of your soul lessons. We’re not humans having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. You have a soul. You’re here to learn those lessons and heal.”
Before the traditional meditation exercises began, we did some physical energy work, tapping at meridian endpoints, moving our bodies, and envisioning chakra colors. I closed my eyes and saw blue, the color of the fifth chakra, which means that I need to work on my communication skills, to speak my truth with conviction. It also means I say yes too often, which, as a people-pleaser, I do. Rebecca told me that I was in charge of my own growth, and with practice, I would indeed grow. She designs her meditations to be repeated at home.
When we were all grounded and centered, we lay back and listened as Rebecca led us through Saint Germain’s Violet Flame meditation, during which we envisioned a violet light moving down through our bodies and focused on our breathing. I felt myself retreating into stillness, and the sounds of the world faded into the background.
By the time we sat up, we were quiet and relaxed. For the first time in ages, I didn’t feel the pressing need to get up and move along to my next task. In fact, as I walked home, I just let myself walk in the present. That night I slept like a log, a very rare occurrence.
Rebecca’s meditation wasn’t complicated. She taught us that our thoughts will come and go, and as we practice, they’ll fade into the background. The key word here is practice. I won’t achieve proficiency overnight. But with a little encouragement and the opportunity to quiet my mind, maybe I can slow down a bit and take a much-needed breath.
(Meditation, Mindfulness, and Energy Medicine Workshops will be held on Sunday, May 1 and Sunday, June 5 from 6-7 p.m. at Oglebay Institute’s School of Dance. The May 1 workshop will feature special guest and Certified Medium Amanda DeShong. Workshops are $25. Call 304-242-7700 to register or go to OIonline.com.)