Chronic illness, endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, inflammation, debilitating pain, stress, fatigue…
How do I know meditation can actually help with these? Because I’ve been there, I’ve done it, and I’ve felt the relief.
How Maya Began Her Meditation Journey
Have you heard of the term “crisis meditator?” That was me about ten years ago as I started dabbling in meditation to try cope with stressful jobs and feelings of overwhelm. When anxiety and stress shot up, I sat down. I would get grounded enough to stop the room from spinning only to inevitably fall off the meditation wagon… until the next crisis bubbled up.
As a Type A, perfectionist, and workaholic, it wasn’t easy to learn to slow down and take a breath. But I did.
Resilience Became My Focus
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with chronic illness in 2018 that I immersed myself in (and felt the consistent benefits of) meditation. This was the start of a profound healthcare journey that would soon include medications, surgeries, physical healing, and a lifestyle overhaul.
You can read more about how my healthcare journey started here.
Do-able for A-Types
I’ve witnessed Maya single-handedly herd a group of 20+ high-strung, A-Type personalities and keep us focused on our breathing for 15 minutes without a peep.
I didn’t think it was possible.
Flare Up Calmed Down Even On Zoom
Since the pandemic started, I haven’t been able to do my usual self-care routine of physio/massage/yoga and so on. I started to feel really overwhelmed and isolated, but I spent 15 minutes with Maya on Zoom and she helped me reset my state of mind during an anxiety-filled flare. She knew exactly what I was feeling without having to explain it and I’m very grateful for that.
It’s Not That Hard for a Newbie
Those dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or – simply put – being “frustrated” have no idea how mind blowing meditation can be. For any newbie (like me), meditation would sound like a damn hard thing to do specially in a fast paced life.
Maya, however, easily showed me that MEDITATION IS NOT ACTUALLY THAT HARD. She was patient and mindful of what a newbie may feel while trying meditation for the first time. She made sure that every individual in our group class was comfortable and understood the process – not just running towards a result.
The journey of meditation can itself be frustrating in the beginning but if it’s with Maya, it won’t be.
Meditating Through a Pandemic
I decided to try meditation to get rid of stress from overwhelm at work – which feels like it’s really increased post-COVID. Meditation was a mental re-calibration and helped me to feel very relaxed after. Maya is a soothing and peaceful teacher and I feel like I can use meditation to access thoughts in my brain – and help me to focus on what’s actually important.
Prepared for Stressful Situations
I tried meditation to help with stress, anxiety, and to better control my reactions. I also was seeking more creativity. I found my sessions with Maya to be calming and relaxing and her style is business-friendly and chill. I feel like meditation will help me have more control over life my decisions and stress levels.
Did you know that meditation can help to increase your overall quality of life by:
- Decreasing stress
- Decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression, pain, and insomnia
- Increasing focus and attention
- Re-shaping parts of the brain (yes, physically)
- Slowing down the effects aging (you read that right)
Effects of Meditation + Lazar Love
Studies about the effects and benefits of meditation continue to gain momentum and are helping to separate science from the plethora of fluffy claims out there. Check out the TEDx talk below by Sara Lazar, PhD as she explains how meditation can literally re-shape and train your brain. Lazar heads up the “Lazar Lab” at Harvard University which studies the neuroscience of yoga and meditation. She is an Associate Researcher in the Psychiatry Department at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School.
Reduce your heart rate.
Reduce your respiratory rate.
Feel the relief.
The science behind meditation is fascinating. But what resonated with me about Lazar is her origin story. She got into meditation by way of yoga, which she picked up to rehab a running injury (similar to how I found it, too). She had the same initial response to yoga that I did – the claims of wellness and emotional transformation sounded pretty hokey and “granola.” Sure, it helped strengthen my body and improve my breath…but could it really make me more patient?
As she started to experience some of the symptoms of a better quality of life, Lazar put on her researcher hat and began to dive into understanding how these changes could occur (spoiler alert: it’s a cool thing called neuroplasticity). That healthy skepticism is what we live for here at No Granola – and why she’s one of our heroes.
The No Granola Approach to Meditation
I was so grateful for the way meditation changed my life that it led me to become a meditation teacher so that I could work with people who suffer from the effects of stress and anxiety – chronic illness patients, tech folks, entrepreneurs… In 2019, I was certified as an Unplug Meditation teacher and in 2021 I completed MBSR Teacher Level 1 certification with the Mindfulness Center at Brown University (Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program). I’m also a member of the lululemon Sweat Collective and am passionate about providing pro bono support to chronic illness patients.
So what’s the “no granola” style of meditation? It is a simple and secular approach that embraces the science of well-being. It’s not sugary sweet, bubbly, or New Age – though we’ve got great teachers we can recommend to you if that’s what you’re looking for!
Feeling grounded brings profound relief – physically, mentally, emotionally. Being able to trigger this yourself is the ultimate joy.
Trained by industry legends davidji and Suze Yalof Schwartz of Unplug Meditation, I developed my style of “No Granola” meditation that is just that – no props, no gimmicks, no woo-woo. I wanted to share something that’s accessible to stressed-out skeptics like my classmates in finance or my colleagues in tech. Meditation had such a measurable impact on my quality of life that I spent my summer certifying with Unplug Meditation – including in-person at the flagship Santa Monica studio.
I continue to learn and develop as a do-er and a teacher and am pursuing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher training pathway.