Guest Scribe: Elena Brower "On Meditation"
When filmmakers Rebecca Dreyfus and Susannah Ludwig asked me to view a piece they'd made on meditation, I had no idea my life was about to take a turn. Their first portrait of The Venerable Metteya, a Tibetan monk, discussing his understanding of his human mind and his relationship to meditation, catalyzed my long-awaited relationship to meditation. I've since joined the project team, and that one portrait has evolved into On Meditation, a series of potent films on why we meditate, what it means, and how it helps. Intended to reach as many millions of humans as possible, the aim is to demystify meditation and show how very easily we can each sit and locate our own healing space. Consistent meditation practice makes me more likely to slow myself down when I'm feeling reactive, and choose a loving response. It's taught me how to value myself, be comfortable in my own skin, and to show and give only love.
Once a week I help teach my son's first grade class a yoga class. Today, instead, we explored meditation. Jonah and I read "Moody Cow Meditates" to his class of 28 classmates. We journeyed through Moody Cow's very bad day, to see him land next to his wise Grandfather, who was holding a large jar about 3/4 full of water. Grandfather held a bowl of glitter, encouraging Moody Cow to take a pinch for each of the things that made him angry that day (there were many), and put them into the jar. Jonah's teacher gave me a big tray of magenta glitter, and as we read the book, I had each kid come up, think of one thing that makes them angry or sad or frustrated, and then take a pinch of glitter for it, and place it into our jar. We had fun shaking it up, just like Grandfather did in the book, and watched the swirl... which stopped only when we stopped shaking it and got super quiet. Then we watched the glittering sparkles settle. One by one. Just like each angry thought, sad thought, any thought. One at a time.
I love teaching them yoga, and chanting with them, but a special window that opened for all of us today, in sharing that simple understanding of how meditation works. If we sit still, everything ultimately slows down, the mind slowly unwinds to a trickle of thoughts, and the heart rests and rises, all at once. It 's always a privilege to share with children about meditation and other practices that explore their own healing capacities, because even in the most seemingly unwilling of children, there is recognition, there is gratitude for the space created for them to be curious about their own innermost experience. Kids get it. Even if they say they don't, somewhere in their body, the body gets it. And never forgets it.
On Meditation affords me the chance to share the momentum and healing of meditation more broadly. We've completed the first five portraits, meditation as experienced through the eyes of actor Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad, Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard, Congressman Tim Ryan, The Venerable Metteya, and I are the first five. The second five: David Lynch, Gabrielle Bernstein, and other surprises to come.
Time to fund the last five, together. Our aim is to get the completed film into hospitals (both for patients and staff), senior care homes, prisons, youth detention centers, and more. As we receive funding for our production to be completed, we're committing matching copies for donation to such institutions, and are seeking ways in which it can serve that we've yet to discover.
Thank you for your practice and your presence on this uplifting, important project.
~ Elena Brower is a Mama, founder and co-owner of VIRAYOGA, co-author of Art of Attention. Elena has taught yoga for 16+ years: from the Museum of Modern Art to the Great Lawn at Central Park, from the playa at Burning Man to the Eiffel Tower, Elena is honoured to offer larger-scale experiences of yoga, but her true service is in shifting awareness within the smallest interactions; one family, one household at a time. As a coach with the Handel Group, she coaches individuals and teaches courses, and she’s been featured in the New York Times, Yoga Journal, Element Yoga for Beginners DVDs, ABC News and NBC News. Dozens of yoga practices with Elena can be found on Yogaglo. As the Executive Producer of On Meditation, she is curating a project about the relevance of meditation and its benefits. The first limited-edition printing of her first book, Art of Attention, co-authored with Erica Jago, was released in December 2012 and sold out within a few weeks; Art of Attention's second edition was released in March 2013.