As frigid winds wafted through the crisp winter air, sleuth wandered uptown to seek warmth and stillness at MNDFL’s new Upper East Side meditation sweet spot. I found comfort in the cozy community space, and complimentary mug of Rishi tea, upon entering the lobby. Then, I found Kathy Cherry, a wise meditation instructor, whose warm and charming energy was exactly what I needed for the next 45 minutes of guided meditation, focused on the bod.
Kathy, a founding member of Dharma Punx NYC and trained in Theraveda tradition, took the beginning moments of class to share her knowledge of body alignment and posture. She explained the four main meditation postures: standing, seated, walking and laying. While most of us remained seated, we carefully chose cushion options depending on our level of flexibility.
Once we landed in a comfortable seat, Kathy opened it up for questions. One person asked about their legs constantly falling asleep as well as options for tight hips. I joined the collective curiosity asking for techniques for my severe scoliosis. For all, she offered honest insight. But admitted, “often, when people say they have back discomfort, I see they’re holding onto some kind of tension.” Truthfully, I’m often fighting my own discomfort and need to just let go.
The room fell silent. We sat. We observed. We observed. We sat.
After about ten minutes of guided meditation, the room began fidgeting, myself included. The more aware I became of my body, the more aware I became of my tension. I became quite inquisitive. Was I unaware of the tension there all along? Or did it arise with awareness? Both perhaps?
“Breathe into what’s uncomfortable,” Kathy softly whispered. As I closed my eyes, and took a few deep breaths into the sensations of my right back muscles, she encouraged us to double the amount of breathing into the mirror side of discomfort. In shifting my perception, the intensity on my right side began to dissipate, like the lift of a winter morning fog.
Kathy guided us through a body scan starting at the crown of the head. “Notice where your thoughts land in your body.” We observed how the mind could point our attention to areas of the body without even moving.
For me, it was the shoulders, as I felt the racing thoughts of planning and worrying harshly land. “Let go,” I heard echo. I took a few deep breaths. And, just like that, I found the sweet spot of relaxed embodiment.
—Ashley Howard for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-in 45-minute classes are $25. First-time students can try a class for $10.
Friday 5:30-6:15pm Open
MNDFL 239 E 60th St. New York, NY 10022 (212) 546-9233