What’s more west coast than a meditation studio experience in LA?
After attending a “Body Pump” class at my Upper East Side gym last week, where I basically died, I looked back on my experience attending a more subtle, relaxing meditation class (AKA, I let my mind do the work rather than my legs, arms, shoulders, and abs).
On my final day of my LA travels in July, there was no better end to my trip than a visit to the Den Meditation studio. I purchased a $23 class online called “Restorative,” aimed at pairing meditation with some light stretching.
When I arrived to the studio on La Brea Ave., I was a little taken aback when they literally took my phone and stored it in a bin. No cell phones allowed to avoid distraction. Okay, I get it, it’s a great idea. But…what if my attention was focused on who was calling me when I didn’t have my iPhone locked in my pocket?
My worries were replaced by a friendly Australian girl who had just relocated to the city. She had her meditation clothes on (think: yoga) and was ready for some zen.
The instructor had us lay on mats, close our eyes, and listen to him and the light, soothing music. The lights were dimmed, the room looked like my old therapy office, and I was officially not only physically, but mentally in Los Angeles. Just what I needed.
During my first experience, I definitely did not master the craft of meditation. My mind was not always focused in the present moment (is it ever…) and I struggled to clear my mind when trying to focus on “am I doing this right? Is this the right stretching position?” However, after about ten minutes, the strangest sensation came over me. My eyes had been closed for a while, I was deep breathing as instructed, and I was laying down, the back of my head touching the mat. I wasn’t moving…except I was. I was spinning. I was spinning so much, I felt like I was on a merry go-round gone wrong, and I couldn’t stop. I wanted to open my eyes, but I knew then that my mind would adjust to reality, and I would stop spinning. I liked it. I liked it because I knew it was all in my head. That I was meditating. That I came here to do what I wanted to do.
And then I was told to open my eyes. When I did, everything was still. My body stopped spinning; I was just there – lying on the mat. We were done, and I didn’t know how exactly to feel now. Was I refreshed? Uneasy? Weirded out? I was beginning to wonder if maybe hypnosis is actually a thing.
The instructor was hypnotic. He knew how to get into your mind; he knew how to make you just say in your head: “fuck it, I’m living my best life. I’m alive, I’m worthy, and everything’s going to be okay.” Deep breath 3 times, hold it, let it out slowly. Let the air pollute your stomach, and then exhale to clear it. When you exhale, let everything go. Like a gym class, it’s definitely helpful when you have an instructor to force you to do what he says. Meditation is easy, but it’s not something I can sit for ten minutes to complete unless I must. I fully support meditation and all of its healing properties, but damn, make me do it. Make me breathe.
When I reclaimed my phone, I headed over to Susie Cakes to get a bunch of cupcakes. Because not only do you go to meditation studios when you’re in LA, but you go to SUSIE CAKES. Oh, and then an hour later I went hiking at Runyon with my green juice. Not even kidding, either. And that’s another reason why I love California and always will.
Thank you, LA, for continuing to teach me that reality isn’t reality. Now, onto trying an Upper East Side meditation studio for comparison.
-mike, the zen-ed out urban guy