Quieting the chaos of the mind and finding stillness can seem impossible, especially living in a world of constant overstimulation. From corporate workers to urbanites to anyone (okay everyone) hitched to their digital devices, finding the time to reset and breathe is a challenge.
A recent trend in the wellness world hopes to change that: Communities created to introduce ancient meditation techniques in modern and accessible ways.
The Path (www.thepath.com) is one such community. The Path guides students through four meditation techniques: energizing, mindfulness, mantra and compassion. Learning how to meditate in each of these different techniques has a powerful, and different, effect on the mind. Teaching all four gives people the tools to create a custom meditation practice perfect for them. The Path aims to guide fast-paced urbanites such as young professionals through a transformative path of consciousness.
I spoke to the founder of The Path, Dina Kaplan, formerly a fashion industry executive who relied on meditation to manage the stress of the corporate world. She says what sets The Path apart from similar organizations tasked with introducing a modern audience to meditation, is the modern settings and the social aspect of building a community.
“The word ‘light’ is in enlightenment, so why can’t meditations be beautiful and fun and full of light?” She says. “After our sits, we invite people to spend time meeting the other people, to share experiences or just make new friends. People enjoy meeting other meditators, if only because they’re less likely than your average urbanite to be glancing at their phones every few seconds!”
Kaplan gives us her three reasons why modern society really needs to step up its meditation game:
1. Just as we can exercise to make our bodies look better, we can meditate to make our minds work better. There are new articles coming out about the scientific benefits of meditation for the brain almost every day now, and that data and research is real.
2. I think people increasingly tie their value to ‘doing’ rather than feeling comfortable simply ‘being’. We over-book ourselves with appointments, work and personal things to avoid sitting with our thoughts. And yet, to develop our intuition and emotional intelligence, we need to be in tune with ourselves. To be comfortable, not distracting ourselves all the time. Meditation is great at bringing us to the realization that we deserve, sometimes, to simply be.
3. Finally, I think our phones are making us a bit nuts. I don’t think our minds are meant to receive this much data all day long. Once you start meditating, you start to lose some of that addiction to your phone, which makes you healthier and happier, too.
The rewards of such an experience are varied. “Many, many people say they have learned to meditate with us and now have a daily practice,” says Kaplan. “That, along with building a community and providing a transformative experience for people, is part of our mission, so it feels incredible to hear this. And at one of our social events (we host monthly social and dharma talks), someone came up to me and said, “I feel like I have finally found my home in New York, and it is with The Path.” Tears well up in my eyes when I think back to that moment and what we are building in a city that needs this—a sense of peacefulness—so much.”
So whether you’re a crazed urbanite or busy Midwesterner, there are options to find peace in any place you dwell.