21 participants attended the Introduction to Meditation workshop. Students included native New Yorkers, as well as more recent arrivals from countries including Bangladesh, Ecuador, Colombia, Albania, Tibet and China. Most had had no previous experience of meditation but were eager to learn.
After introducing herself, SHAREing & CAREing, and the resources and services we provide, Merryl introduced the topic. She provided a handout describing the proven benefits of meditation (which include increased immune function and positive emotions, and decreases in inflammation, pain, depression and anxiety) and described the three techniques she would be teaching: mindfulness, guided imagery visualization, and body scan/progressive muscle relaxation.
Participants practiced their English language skills by reading the handout out loud and discussing it. Merryl led them through an experience of each of the techniques.
All the meditation practices were well received. The clear favorite seemed to be visualization, where students were guided to fully imagine a place of peace, safety and calm they could return to in times of pressure and anxiety. One student spoke for many when she said the body scan not only helped her relax but helped her understand how much tension she carried unconsciously in her body, especially her shoulders. She could see using this technique to help herself relax more frequently. Others especially loved the mindfulness technique. “It’s great to feel separate from my thoughts and emotions and get some perspective on them.”
Members left feeling more relaxed and energized than they had felt before the workshop began. They appreciated the entire workshop experience as well as learning new resources they could use beyond the workshop to support their ongoing health and wellbeing.