February 2020 TDM
The Black (History Month) issue
Welcome to the tenth issue of The Daily Meditator ✌🏾This is your monthly resource for fun, quirky, interesting, and noteworthy happenings in and around the worldwide meditation community—created by Bliss More author and daily meditator Light Watkins. Guest edited by Kristen Vandivier and Emerson Wolfe.
Our mission is simple: to broaden the horizon of what a daily meditator looks like while providing you with more knowledge and inspiration for committing to your daily practice.
In the spirit of Black History month: we’re highlighting the diversity in wellness, as well as taking a look at some interesting meditation topics from around the globe. Check it out, and be sure to let us know what you think. We love receiving your feedback.
[ MEDITATION & NEWS ]
Coronavirus inspires free online meditation classes in Asia
Is coronavirus indirectly bringing devotion into the modern age? Looks like the outbreak has Taipei meditation teachers turning to technology to keep the bliss going. While many people in mainland China and Taiwan are now working from home, dance and fitness centers are offering real-time sessions through Zoom, and the Kadampa Meditation Centre is encouraging meditation practitioners to tune into their free live-streaming meditation classes to better manage health and stress brought on by the scare. They apparently had over 130 people join the first session.
Bottom line: Of course we prefer the in-person experience, but using technology to stay connected to community gives new meaning to receiving a “download” from the Universe.
[ MEDITATION & RESEARCH ]
Is meditation the fountain of youth?
Apparently, dipping into meditation leads to a younger brain. Under normal circumstances, the brain deteriorates with age, and nerve tracts shrivel, causing cerebrospinal cavities to get bigger. Brain scans show that aging can leave gaping holes in the brain, which may lead to a loss of 40% or more of your dopamine neurons (one of the precursors to Parkinson’s Disease).
We’ve all felt the effects of aging—slower reflexes, worse memory, difficulty learning new things. People as young as 45 start reporting a decline in mental agility. Eating well and exercising may help you get your 25-year-old body back, but regular meditation helps you keep your 25-year-old brain?
A Harvard study has suggested that you can “Benjamin Button“ your brain by as many as 25 years younger than your chronological age—just by meditating! After eight weeks of 30 minutes of meditation per day, participants in the study changed the structure of their brains, leading to increased focus, self confidence, empathy, and compassion.
Bottom Line: Turns out you really can teach an old, uh, brain, new tricks!
[ MEDITATION & POP CULTURE ]
Wait, Barbie meditates now?!
Just when we thought we’d seen it all, look who’s sitting on the shelf in lotus pose! Looks like Barbie doesn’t want to miss out on the bliss (peep her #blissmore pants). Mattel, in partnership with Headspace, has debuted the “Breathe with Me Barbie” doll as part of their new line called “Barbie Wellness”. Not only does she lead a guided meditation with the click of her moon necklace, you can also access Barbie’s meditation, led by Eve Prieto, the female voice of Headspace, through the Barbie YouTube channel.
Barbie, being a bit of a controversial toy, may not be who you want to introduce your kids to meditation. Buuuuut, given how studies show stress levels among kids and teens are now rivaling those of adults, if Barbie gets more young girls exposed to meditation, then we suppose it’s a step in the right direction. Our only question is, how did they get those rigid plastic legs into lotus position?
Bottom line: Although we’re not sold on the plastic, we definitely love the message.
[ MEDITATION & LIFESTYLE ]
Ooh, we get to play (tree) house again as adults
The higher the treehouse, the closer to the samadhi? If you haven’t booked your vacation for the year, perhaps consider meditating into a “Vortex" Tree House.
What is that, you ask? We don’t know exactly, which makes us all the more interested. At the L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona, you can take part in their Intuitive Vortex package which includes choosing one of four different guided vortex meditations suited to your wellness intention to experience in the hotel’s vortex tree house.
For those who are really scratching your heads, Sedona is famous for being a place with many vortices, or swirling centers of energy, that are conducive to healing and meditation. The package also includes spa treatments and a guided hike to a “secret” location. Ooh, meditation and mystery—sign us up!
Bottom line: How could you not take it EASY while meditating in such a beautiful place? If you go, let us know how it was.
[ MEDITATION & BLACK HISTORY ]
Guess who’s been meditating for nearly as long as the ancient Indians?
When you think of where meditation started, obviously, you think India, right? Well... looks like ancient Eygptians were no Johnny-come-lately’s when it comes to the using mantras. Scholars have identified yogic postures clearly depicted on the walls of ancient Eygyptian temples and yogic philosophies reflected in ancient hieroglyphic texts.
The Egyptian system of yoga and meditation is now referred to as Kemetic Yoga (named after Kemet, which is the proper name for the northeastern corner of Africa—“Egypt” was the Greek name). It is the modern interpretation of the ancient system developed by Dr. Asar Hapi and Master Yirser Ra Hotep (Elvrid Lawrence) in the 1970s.
The ways in which Kemetic Yoga differs from Indian Yoga, other than it coming from Africa instead of India, include 1) The main poses imitate Eygptian gods based on the poses from ancient temple murals, 2) It tends to be slower than many forms of Indian Yoga, and 3) Not only is the aim to transcend the boundaries of the material world, but there is also an emphasis on connecting to ancestors and communicating with living spirits who have gone before us.
Bottom line: We’re not much for conspiracy theories, but maybe meditation played a role in the mysterious construction of the pyramids? Just saying...
The gurus who are bringing more diversity into the meditation space
Stacey Johnson and Jasmine Johnson are the sister team that co-founded Black Zen, an online wellness hub of editorial content designed to make meditation more accessible and relatable to black and brown communities. They also host the Weekly Wellness podcast to share the benefits of meditation to an even wider international audience.
What’s your super-power as meditation teachers? Jasmine: Being able to really read a room! I can generally sense the feelings and energy of the people I'm around which helps me connect with them on a very different level.
Stacey: I would say, being able to master my emotions. To walk around peaceful all day feels like a superpower in and of itself.
“To walk around peaceful all day feels like a superpower.”
What’s one myth about meditation that bugs you both when you hear people say it? Jasmine: A myth about meditation that bugs both of us is when people assume it has to be practiced within a religious context or that it somehow conflicts with their existing religious beliefs. Meditation is simply the practice of intentionally quieting the mind and it’s within this silence that we uncover the best version of our self.
Stacey: The myth that bugs me the most is the one that people create on their own, which is that they don't have time to do it. We always find time to do the things we want to do, so for us, meditation is no different.
How do you like to have fun as meditation teachers? Stacey & Jasmine: Going out, eating out, and anything outdoors! Essentially, it's the same fun we've always had but we're able to enjoy it more by being truly present. These activities have a lot more meaning when we're able to connect more deeply to the experience and to the people that we're sharing these experiences with, and that’s the really fun part about being a meditator.
Keith Mitchell is a former NFL linebacker who transformed into a meditation and yoga expert after an injury halted his athletic career. Keith is a teacher, an avid presenter, he has a new book coming out called The Mindfulness Playbook, and is the founder of The Light It Up Foundation. @keithmitchell59
For those who have never tried it, how does therapy play a role in wellness? The nature of dis-ease first festers from our emotional state. Grief is in the lungs, and heart. The emotion of anger resides in the liver, while fear affects the kidneys, and worry stresses the gut and the colon. The mental capacity expands by simply learning deep breath, deep breathing represents processing to better access each situation, therefore we become less reactive and more intentional. Consequently, we can have a more mature emotional response to change.
“When you desire to share your practice, you are sharing you...”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a meditation teacher? When I first got into nutrition, and I started studying the plants, I realized that each plant had a gift to give the planet—meaning, an apple is high in vitamin A, kale has calcium and you can go down the line. Now when it comes to us, as people we each have a gift. So when you desire to share your practice, you are sharing you, and this is what the entire world has been waiting for and needing to see from you.
Tracee Stanley is a meditation and yoga nidra facilitator with over 18 years of experience in the Para Yoga and Himalayan traditions. She is on the faculty at Esalen Institute, is the founder of Sankalpa Shakti Yoga School, and the creator of the Empowered Life Self Inquiry Oracle Cards and Soul Journal. @tracee_stanley
How have you seen the wellness industry evolve since becoming a teacher? I started my teaching journey in 2001 by attending a yoga teacher training. I opened a yoga studio soon afterwards and at that time there were only a few yoga studios in Los Angeles. When yoga and meditation teacher trainings became more accessible, and then popular, people became so inspired to share what they had learned that it gave birth to the "wellness industry.” There will always be corporations that want to take advantage of what’s trending. We have to define for ourselves what wellness really means and let that be what guides us to optimal health.
“We have to define for ourselves what wellness really means”
How can we as daily meditators use our practice to the highest advantage of others? Our practice makes us more present and compassionate, if we can all share our love of meditation with just one person it can change the world.
What was the gateway book or experience that turned you into a meditation enthusiast? Mantra meditation really changed my experience in meditation. Japa (repetition) meditation has been part of my practice since I was first introduced to it 20 years ago.
Christina Rice is the founder of OMNoire, a health and wellness platform for women of color that has grown in few short years to a digital community of over 40,000 worldwide. OMNoire has hosted wellness retreats for over 300 women in far-flung places like Grenada, Bali and Ghana to name a few. @christinamrice
In your experience, what’s the best way to introduce your friends to meditation? By explaining my philosophy that prayer is a conversation with God and meditation is a conversation with yourself. The only way you can hear your inner voice, which is your guiding light, is by understanding the power of stillness and drowning out exterior noises. That’s typically the “aha!” moment.
Favorite meditation humor? You should meditate for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy—then you should sit for an hour.
“The only way you can hear your inner voice... is by understanding the power of stillness.”
What’s the most amazing benefit that you’ve experienced from your meditation practice? It’s my ability to re-center in the midst of chaos. I know that once I pause, take deep breaths, and settle my spirit, I can come out on the other side of it more centered and clear on the solution ahead.
[ READ. WATCH. LISTEN. ]
Read: Stay Woke
Author (and friend of TDM) Justin Michael Williams confesses that Stay Woke is not your average meditation book: “We are modern people in a high-tech world. We have first world problems and long to-do lists. And if you grew up in struggle—overcoming homophobia, sexism, trauma, shame, depression, poverty, toxic masculinity, racism, or social injustice—you need a different type of meditation … one that doesn’t pretend the struggle doesn’t exist.” Read now
Watch: They've Gotta Have Us
This powerful docu-series traces the history of African-American cinema through candid recollections of esteemed black entertainers. If you're looking for something empowering and inspiring for your next chill sesh, be sure to add this one to your Netflix list. And when you're done? You'll have a whole list of black entertainers to watch! Watch here
Listen: Black Zen Podcast
This podcast is a weekly discussion on selected wellness topics designed to make you laugh, provide insight, and support the guided meditation delivered to inboxes every 1st Monday of the month. Sign up for the free guided meditations here. Listen now
[ REPORT FROM THE FIELD ]
What have you gotten from meditation? If I had to put it in one word I’d say “peace.” My meditation practice has been instrumental to my success as a parent, a husband, and a human, mainly by giving me a tool for centering myself (especially helpful when raising teenagers).
Strangest meditation moment? My moment isn’t so strange, but early in my practice I found myself sleeping regularly. The realization which was pointed out by my teacher, was that I was in dire need of sleep. He was right! In short order, I started experiencing more restful meditation without snoozing, and getting better sleep.
Most unexpected benefit of meditation? The most unexpected benefit of my meditation practice has been its impact on my creativity. By default, I am an engineer, creative problem solver. I attribute many of my successful business solutions to the practice.
[ WHO TO FOLLOW ]
Two of our favorite daily meditator Instagram accounts with a purpose
Chris Rock said, "If Oprah and Ryan Seacrest had a lovechild, the kid would end up being like Quddus," and he's not wrong. Formerly a host for the MTV show TRL, Quddus is now a personal development coach dedicated to projecting positive energy. He wears his heart on his sleeve and will inspire you to do the same. Plus, Quddus is always good for an uplifting dance video. Follow Quddus here
Koya Webb (right)
Over the past 15 years, Koya has operated as a master yoga teacher and transformational expert. Through her classes, retreats, and workshops, she’s helped thousands of people worldwide reach their goals and dreams. Koya has coached high-profile performers like Stevie Wonder and P Diddy and she’s had her work featured on the Steve Harvey Show, as well as on ABC and CBS. Her IG feed is always good for a positive thought and some much-needed inspo! Follow Koya here
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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