Meditating on a skateboard

Meditating on a skateboard

People are meditating with smartphone apps, in elementary school classrooms, at yoga studios and as part of corporate wellness programs.

How did ancient spiritual techniques gain such popularity in secular spaces? What are some of the social, psychological, and physical benefits of meditation? And just how do you do it?

Guests

  • Faith Hunter Yoga and meditation instructor; Owner of Embrace Yoga DC; @faithhunteryoga
  • Dave Trachtenberg Program Director of Minds, which teaches mindfulness-based practices to students, educators and parents; @mindsincorp
  • Klia Bassing Mindfulness trainer and founder of Visit Yourself at Work; @visityourself

How To Meditate Like A Journalist

Asking elected officials and candidates tough questions—all while all on camera and behind microphones—can be a stressful experience for the host and resident analyst of The Politics Hour. But Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood have their own meditation practices to help them unwind. Here, they share their techniques.

My Path To Meditation

By Kojo Nnamdi

It began with a simple question to Seth Hurwitz, the owner of The Anthem and 9:30 Club in Washington. “You book bands to play in your venues. A lot of them are pretty wild. How do you stay sane?” Seth’s a pretty big guy, so I assumed his response would be along the lines of “I work out with pro athletes.”

Instead he replied, “I meditate.” I asked him to explain. He said “I can do better than that. I’ll send you a book.”

And that was my introduction to Meditation For Dummies. It was perfect for me. So now, for five to ten minutes every morning, I sit in a comfortable chair in absolute silence, breathe deeply. Then silently, in my mind, I repeat a phrase that inspires me over and over again, the same one every day. Then slowly, almost dreamlike, I stand, pick up my keys and bags, and walk out the door.

Then I’m good for the day.

If I find myself anticipating a stressful situation, I’ll do it again during the day in a quiet place. But that only happens on Fridays before I work with Tom Sherwood.

 

Just Me, Breathing Normally

By Tom Sherwood

Skepticism is a virtue and cynicism is a curse.

I always remember this when the subject of meditation comes up.

One extreme counts it as the Holy Grail to coping with modern life and the other something no more than New Age-y hogwash.

For me, meditation is a simple effort to slow down and calm down any stressful situation, something most anyone can do without embellishments or guidance that “you must do this” or “you must do that” to meditate.

I have two methods for meditation.

My most basic approach is simply to breathe more fully.  When I was traveling eight miles to work each day, I spent the first half of my commute listening to reports and commentaries to catch up on the latest news. The final four miles, I would switch to classical music and simply breathe purposefully (while still alert to driving.) I humorously found that the brake lights of cars and trucks have all sorts of designs that I had never noticed before. Breathing fully, not the exaggerated deep breaths some expect, is remarkably calming.  You can do it anywhere at any time.

Secondly, I go on an occasional “home” retreat.

For this, I end a night by turning off all electronics — cell phone included, alarm clocks or other time management devices. I promise myself not to make any vocal noises — talking or exclaiming out loud to myself or singing, which I rarely do anyway.

Upon awakening, I spend the day in silence, doing household chores, reading or looking out the window, all the while breathing more fully. One spring, I did my income tax preparation and cleaned out files of old, useless papers. Only the rustling of the paper made noise.

And on these quiet day retreats, it’s amazing what sounds you hear. Inside, it is the padding of your feet on the floor, the click of a cupboard opening, or the sound of water filling a glass. Simple sounds that require no thought but clear out others.  Outside my quiet apartment, you become aware of boats in the nearby Southwest waterfront, birds in trees, a slight muffle of airplanes from Reagan National over the Potomac, a distant siren, etc.

It’s a day-long quiet meditation and purposefulness that I continue until the sun goes down.

Dusk seems to come quickly, but as I reengage my usual noisy world, I feel like I have been gone three restful days. No magic chants, no cross-legged postures and no meditation bells or music to make the journey.

Just me, breathing normally.

Guided Meditations From Klia Bassing

Used with permission by Klia Bassing. For more guided meditations, click here.

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