Are you curious about meditation and if it actually benefits your mind and body? Join Lauren along with special guest, Dancer Heebner, as they talk about the five things you need to know about meditation.
Be sure to stick around for a short, relaxing breathing technique at #4!
Sign up for Dancer's Guided Meditation class here.
Contact Dancer email@example.com.
Jonny Morris, JMU student and Inner Healing and Personal Growth Coach https://www.instagram.com/yourpath_yourway/.
Insight Timer App: https://insighttimer.com/
Follow us on social media @jmuurec!
Click here to view the full transcript of this episode.
Hey there, welcome to Well Dukes. This podcast is brought to you by UREC Health Promotion. Tune in every other Wednesday for conversations that we hope challenge what you know, think or do in regard to your own health and wellness and helps you be well dukes.
Hello Dukes and welcome back to the Well Dukes Podcast. My name is Lauren Shutt and I am your host this season. Today we are joined with Dancer. Dancer, would you like to introduce yourself?
Hey everyone, my name is Dancer. I am the Mindfulness Instructor for UREC. I co-created it with Holly Bailey, the Assistant Director for Fitness and Nutrition and I'm also the sole instructor for all the workshops that you come into at UREC.
It is wonderful to have you on today, we are so excited because today we're going to be talking about the five things you need to know about meditation. So with that, we're going to start off at number one. Could you give us an explanation of what meditation is?
Heck yes, I love this stuff. And we're gonna take it simple, we're gonna make it simple. Meditation is present stillness. And I'm going to break down what present and stillness means. Yeah, so basically present is accepting where you're at. And where the environment is that as well. It's been with exactly with yourself. And so, in this current era, with technology, we’re very fragmented from our sensory experience, our environment, we are physically here, and also we are on their phone or on the computer elsewhere, as well. So becomes this very fragmented experience, where presence teaches us that our mind body becomes the screen. Rather than the phone being our constant attention, we, ourselves are present attention. So with this practice of being with ourselves, rather than being elsewhere, on the screen, or playing video games, or on the computer, we can learn to accept our emotions, our physical state, our environment. And we become one with it. So with acceptance, with accepting our environment that also requires listening as well. Listening to what is here, right in front of us, the walls of our house, the trees outside, the sun, coming into the window, the temperature of our body, the temperature of the room, our thoughts about our body or our body itself, or thoughts about our room. So it becomes this very close experience that we begin to develop an ear for that requires a listening that requires us to sit back, look around, listen to what's here, and accept it. So that goes into stillness. If presence is acceptance and acceptance requires listening, listening then requires the stillness it kind of is a constant, backwards and forwards motion. With stillness. There's sometimes a myth that stillness requires physical stillness. Often, stillness is also a practice of not going forward or backward. Simply being here. Not next thing, not thinking about the next thing, the next thing the next thing but being where we are right now and that yeah, also goes into presence as well. Mooji, who is a Jamaican meditation teacher, often says, to not create, to not create scenarios of what's happening, to not create identities of ourselves. But to simply be below that, before the creation, that space right before we start to create, in that space is stillness, we often create an identity of ourselves. And then we try to fulfill that identity as close as we possibly can. And that is an identity of who we think we are, what we think our life should be like, what we think we should do as a job, what we think our day should look like. So before all of that, sinking below that sinking below the creation of who we think we are, and what we think we need to do. We sit in stillness of a space of just being, being without doing. We often believe that to exist, we have to do something to exist, we have to be X,Y,Z. And I'd love for us to all reflect on that and ask us, is that true? To exist do we have to do something about that existence? Do we have to do something about our lives? Is that true? Can we really say that's absolutely true? And to counteract that, I'd love for us to practice the idea of what it means to simply exist. And this is a practice I really like to do. And I start out with saying, we are existence, and then I go backwards with the words, I then say, we are, and then say we, then after we it's nothing, then I'm silent. We are existence, we are we you can take that to the eye, I am existence, I am I breathing into that nothingness. And we can use that with identities we attach to ourselves as well. I am special. I am this, I am that I am not special, we can take that back and see how it feels conceptually when it's with it. It's without the eye. It's without the I Am. And it simply is, is simply silence. And that's what stillness is. Meditation is practicing accepting where we are at accepting the emotions of our physical sensory experience, accepting our environment, listening to her environment, and being still within that.
That's really, really beautiful. And it's, it's great to think through that. And with that. There's also the benefits of meditation. So if you could talk a little bit about that at number two.
Number two, yes, this is honestly one of my favorite parts. I've been taking Bio Psych with Melanie Shoup-Knox. It's my senior year, my last semester, and I'm really excited that this is my last class to go out with a bang in. It's so fascinating. And I've been connecting it with meditation as well. The first benefit I started to notice with meditation, and I didn't really have language for until I started talking with people and going on YouTube videos and exploring the actual like, physical experience what happens in the mind and the body when I meditate when I create this stillness within my mind when I don't attach and that is induces theta frequency within our mind, theta t h e t a. Theta frequency that is a frequency of our neurons moving within our brain at a very slow rate, hertz, at a very slow frequency. And what this does, the slowness, this spaciousness, imagine your brain waves, like really tight coiled ocean waves. And what theta does is unwind that tight coil and create a soft ripple. What that does is bring in more room for creativity, less reactionary space, more room for imagination, more room for breath, more room for simply being without the habitual pattern we find ourselves in and day to day. Theta Waves are also very prevalent in developmental stages of childhood ages 13, and under. And as we all know, those stages are implemental, for forming patterns and neurons and connections within our brain. And also, we know that kids are so imaginative, they're so playful, oh my gosh, you really do anything with nothing when you're with a kid. And as we all know, thinking back in our childhood days, whoa, I don't even remember being bored. Really. I couldn't do make believe I had imaginary friends. I was amazing. I had so much energy. And that also has to do with theta frequency within our mind, our imagination was forming, our mind was forming and that is theta waves. Theta Waves are also prevalent when we're drifting off into sleep. It's kind of like a lucid dreaming state when we're conscious and grounded in this current reality that we associate with. And we're also diving deep into our subconscious and our dream state and our imagination. It's very useful to use theta state as a way to kind of reform beliefs repattern, bring in imagination, create, create stuff, basically be an idea formation stage, it's really useful for that, because it's you have slowness, you're available, your brain is available to actually move and tap into neurons and connections and steer away from the tightness. Theta waves also induces, which goes into the second benefit, neuroplasticity, if you think about it, if you think theta waves help us activate deep unattended to neurons. That means also changing our brain. So if we're constantly in this habitual coiled up space, this state, then we're not activating all the neurons that are also still there, that are also deep within our mind, that are outside of our habitual pattern. So think about we're starting in the small space, the small circle, that's our habitual pattern. That's the neurons that we use our day to day that we are very dependent on basically, and imagine theta waves and enlargening that circle and becoming a big circle and igniting all these other neurons that are all around. That's also neuroplasticity. That is changing your brain, changing your daily brain patterning. And with neuroplasticity comes neurogenesis, which is the creation of neurons. With neurogenesis also, there's synaptogenesis, which is the creation of connection between neurons. And if neurons aren't engaged with they will destroy themselves. So this is basically an act of enlivening our neurons within our mind. Melanie often says that we are our neurons, our personality, our life, our memories, who we are, who we identify with. This all contained in these little neurons, it's us. So essentially, what we're doing with meditation, with theta state, with neuroplasticity, with neurogenesis and synaptogenesis is unlocking all these deep parts of ourselves that would normally go unseen. It's giving space for all deep parts of ourselves to come and see the light, to be embodied, to be expressed. It's cool stuff.
It is fascinating. It is amazing. Yeah. I think we often like, look at something and don't dive into the complexity of it and why it exists. And the true like science and facts behind it, are just absolutely mind blowing.
Explosion of our brain.
That then in return brings us to number three, which is what are some different types of meditation?
Yeah, so there's many myths around meditation that it has to be this certain way. And that's really what I like to bring in and teach my classes. It's like, whoa, meditation is a way of being like it's literally in the definition. It's, it's not even a way of, I guess, in essence, it's a way of being because there's all ways of being, but it is being. So that looks like so many different ways. You can have a meditative jog, where you're just running and you're present with your environment, and everything seems to trickle away. That's sometimes why people say wow, my job is so refreshing and meditative. A lot of people love jogging for that reason. And then you can have a meditative walk, where you just walk in the arboretum and put away your phone, and maybe walk a little more slow than you usually would and listen to the birds and open up your ears and look at the leaves and how the light shines through just like the majesty of life and connecting with that, rather than trying to push it away or going to the next destination. You can do that on the way to class, looking around you, not being on your phone while you walk. Simply walking, and observing and being immersed within your environment. I think a great maybe like a word to replace meditation is an immersion, immersion within what is and you can take that anywhere. Another great practice to do is go to the arboretum, sit down and listen to the birds for 10 minutes. And with each little moment that feels good, opening up your ears to other sounds as well, maybe the trickling of the water or the people walking by just slowly deepening, you're listening to what is around you. And then it becomes a whole orchestra of sounds and you're totally immersed into what is happening. That's a great practice as well. You can also simply sit still, for five minutes, maybe wake up a little bit earlier, or instead of going on your phone as soon as you wake up. Maybe sit in bed and breathe, connect with your breath. Notice your inhale, notice your exhale for five minutes. Simply be sitting still, and not doing anything about your thoughts, not doing anything about your to do list. But yeah, just sitting even as those to do lists come up not doing anything about it just for five minutes. Maybe that throughout the day. You can also do a beautiful body scan. I really love to do this. Sitting down, standing, lying down and bringing your awareness and your breath to each part of your body, sending your breath to your eyes and breathing out and in your breath to your lips and breathing out and slowly making your way down to your toes. Noticing every single part of your body or what body parts stand out to you and sending breath to that. You can also do tonglen This is a Tibetan Buddhist meditative practice and it's spelled t o n g l e n and that's basically matching breath with intention. So as you breathe in, you have this intention you have this thought and as you breathe out, that intention goes with it as well. So how they use that is you breathe in suffering of a particular person or group the world. yourself. You breathe that suffering in through your nose and as you breathe out, you breathe out love. You breathe out a different intention. And that's a great way to grow compassion and a sense of community with what's around you. You can also do the inner smile guided meditation, this is a form of visualization meditation where you have a certain visual in your mind, like a glowing body or mountaintop or a beach or somewhere that brings you a lot of peace and ease. And then you breathe into that and you sit with that, and you allow that to grow in your mind. So the inner smile guided meditation works with a body scan, plus a visualization practice of imagining light encompassing your body. And I also use this a lot in my workshops, and a really beautiful way to connect with your body and bring in some light healing energy to your body. So the inner smile guided meditation, and those are a couple of techniques.
Beautiful. So with that, it would be lovely. If at number four, we could kind of do a little breathing exercise for everybody to follow along with.
I've been talking so much, I could use some breath, oh my gosh, was. Great. So a small little exercise, it's great to do it exactly as I speak it as well. It has a particular benefit. Each type of breathing technique that you'll find on YouTube or in your own research or in your own practices each have a certain benefit that is authentic to you. And breathing techniques also go under that umbrella of breath work. So if you'd like to dive more into the practice of breathing and the benefits of different types of breathing, Google breath work, breath work techniques, you'll find so much is out there beautiful. So, so different. And so yeah, igniting and helpful. For this one, we'll be doing a breath work that induces a relaxed, calming state, helping our parasympathetic nervous system come on line. So what we'll do is you can do the standing up any position, any position, will slowly empty, have an empty breath, like breathing in emptying out. Just connecting with where you're at now and your breath and empty that out. And then you'll breathe in through your nose, a nice deep, steady breath. And then like you're sipping on a straw, you'll purse your lips into a tight circle and slowly exhale this breath out. Again, breathing in through your nose. Breathing out like you're sucking on a straw, but pushing that air outward. Breathing in through your nose, nice, deep, steady breath in through your nose. And small tight pursed lips. You'll exhale that breath out. And it's really helpful to do this in front of the mirror so you can really engage with how fast and how slow the pace of your exhale, because that is the essential part in this breath technique. Because the longer the exhale, the more online your parasympathetic becomes. So do two more of these together. Breathe in through your nose, breath through your clothes, pursed lips, breathing in through your nose, closed mouth. And exhale through your pursed lips. The better explanation is to imagine a straw in your lips. Yeah, I think that's much better. Yeah.
Well, thank you for that. It's definitely a great, nice little technique for beginners to start with. And definitely look more into breathwork if you really enjoyed that, yeah, highly, highly recommended.
Highly 10/10. Highly recommend.
So closing out at number five. We just love to share with everybody a few of the on campus resources and anything in the Harrisonburg area that we can recommend to everybody to get deeper into meditation, breath work, whatever it may be, just finding something that works for them.
For sure, community orientation with practices with stuff you love is really important. And it's a great way to integrate your work to learn new things to really immerse yourself into meditation. And you can begin by coming to UREC. I do mindfulness workshops, mindfulness classes, meditation, every Monday 9am to 10am for an hour. And then every Tuesday at 7:30am to 8:30am. You can find me at UREC registrar, and it's under guided meditation. I also bring my sound bowl to these guided meditation which embodies the theta frequency which encourages even deeper meditative state. You can also find other meditation groups on campus as well with Mark Gabriel he does practicing presence in plain sight. You can find this on JMU’s website, we'll also have all this information linked to this podcast, you can find Jared Featherstone who works at the Writing Center, he is a certified mindfulness instructor, amazing, so many resources as well. And we'd be more than happy to do some groups as well and to talk about it. You can also anymore on campus, yoga is really great. Yoga essentially was created to create spaciousness in the body in the mind to then meditate. So yoga is such a great practice as well, you can find that UREC. Off campus resources. The Center yoga studio is really great. They have so many different types of workshops and classes you can go to that's besides, that's not just yoga. Connie McGee is a yoga instructor there and also a mindfulness instructor and dives really into massage and bodywork, Reiki, sound healing. They're amazing. You can also find Jonny Morris as well. He's a local lifestyle coach that really dives into somatic healing. And he has a great mindfulness meditative baseline approach as well. You can also on your own time, check out Insight Timer. Insight Timer is the app that you can get. And you can find different sounds like rain or a bells or oms to aid you in your own meditative practice. And we'll have a little timer as well that just dings after it's done. It's really helpful. You can also some really great books that helped me along the way is the Beginner's Minds by Suzuki, Belonging by Toko pa Turner, and Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzuthis was historically recorded to bring forth the practice of meditation in ancient Chinese culture and Lao Tzu has historically been recorded as the founder, the teacher of meditation. That's a really great book as well. Oh, yeah, look up YouTube videos like, you can find theta frequency YouTube videos. And that will really help with your practice, invoke the brainwaves that naturally occur as well. You can also look up Compassion in Action, non choc organization, if you want to start your own meditation club, here on campus, they will fund you, they will teach you and they will help you in your practice and teaching others to practice as well. They're really great.
It's really great to know that we, especially in the Harrisonburg area, we do have a fair amount of resources and a lot of them are either students or are former students. So it's really cool to see people sticking around and helping out other students.
We love that.
So I wanted to thank you for joining us today. This has been a really really great and helpful podcast. I know it will be for me, going back and listening to it will definitely be on my activity list. So do you have any before we close out do you have any parting thoughts or anything else for us?
No parting thoughts. Just big appreciation for you and reaching out to me and being so flexible and amazing in this process of communicating this practice with others and the JMU community. I'm really thankful for all of you, all of you listeners as well really appreciate your exploration and trusting in us to give you some great insight and some great knowledge.
Well closing out Dukes I just wanted to remind you to go ahead and follow us @jmurec on Instagram and TikTok we love our social media and that's how you can stay up to date on all things Well Dukes and all things UREC and as always, be well dukes.