Meditation is about bringing your attention to a single point of reference and keeping your mind away from distracting thoughts or ideas. The practice can involve a lot of concentration on your breathing, body and mind, trying to reach a point of mindfulness and peace. Studies have shown that meditation can impact a person’s life, and that is the case for some individuals in Laramie, WY.
Photo from buisnessinsider.com
The Lives In Laramie
Leslie Waggener is an associate archivist at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming. Waggener participates in meditation sessions held at the campus but also practices meditation at home for 30 minutes in the evenings.
“I came in rushed and very distracted, and I already feel calmer and just I can just tell my breathing is a little more eased. I just feel more peaceful,” said Waggener minutes after a meditation session.
Waggener first got into meditation after reading a Southwest airlines magazine article about a father who used meditation to help cope with the murder of his son. Through meditation, the father found himself at the point where he visited the man who shot his son and eventually started doing workshops with him.
After reading this story Waggener saw meditation as a powerful tool and wanted to see how it could help her with the stresses of her own life. Soon she started taking classes at the Shambhala Mountain Center, and eventually just fell in love with meditation.
Miguel Chen is the owner of Blossom Yoga in Laramie, where he is also an instructor. Chen’s mother first introduced him to meditation at a very young age.
“My mother was super into meditation and spirituality and mindfulness. So when I was a kid she would introduce this stuff to us but you know when your young stuff that parents like…your not prone to like it yourself,” said Chen.
Chen did, however, revisit meditation in his early 20s, and now is a trained mediation and yoga instructor. Chen mentioned there are sources that show meditation can have physical benefits for a person such as improving circulation by slowing down breathing. Chen also highlighted on the mental benefits of meditation, and that the practice can help with anxiety and depression.
“For me, I think there is just a lot of benefits that go with calming down and connecting inwards with yourself,” says Chen, “So many of us just spend our lives running around frantically and chasing one thing or another but what we don’t realize is that we have this innate ability to be happy and be at peace no matter what is happening around us.”
Toi Geil is a clinical psychologist, the associate director of the University of Wyoming’s counseling center and holds a Ph.D. in psychology. Geil refers to a study that reinforces the belief that meditation can be greatly beneficial for an individual.
“A study done in 2008 found that mindfulness training reduces stress hormones, and so you meditate you are actually engaging a relaxation response often times in your body and then that calms you and that kind of makes it so if you’re stressed it dampens down the stress hormones,” said Geil.
Geil herself has practiced meditation in her free time. She first turned to meditation back in 2008 when one of her family members had gotten into a serious accident. Due to the stress of being in and out of the hospital with the family member and not knowing if said member was going to survive, she started to practice and Geil said that she is so glad that she did.
After deciding to try meditation Geil got out one of her mindfulness books and started practicing. Eventually, her family member did get well, but Geil would go on to keep practicing meditation, and at one point joining a sangha (a type of meditation group) when she use to live in the state of Washington.
“It was really important to have a community to practice with, and to have some really good instruction in terms of how to actually meditate,” said Geil, “It’s one thing to read it in a book and it’s another thing to do it with guidance on how to actually do meditation.”
Where is Meditation available in Laramie
There are opportunities to practice meditation in Laramie such as the Ahisma yoga studio and also there is a Laramie Meditation Group that meets every Wednesday in the Canterbury House from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Chen’s studio, Blossom Yoga, offers free meditation every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 6:45 a.m.
“And if that’s all they did say come to the free class and one other class they would see a great progression in their health and in their connection with themselves pretty quickly,” said Chen.
Chen’s studio also offers other types of activates such as yoga, pilates and special events. For more information about Chen and his studio, you can visit the website here.
University of Wyoming’s Wellness center offers a drop-in meditation class, some sessions led by Waggener, every Thursday from 12:15 p.m. To 12:45 p.m. The class is held in a room in the wellness center nicknamed the “Zen Den.”
Photo from mindbodygreen.com