My SEVA project found me in late November. My friend, Fatima called me to ask a favor. Would I be willing to talk to her senior group about the benefits of guided meditation? Of course! I had met with them a couple of times before on a variety of topics, and they were amazing. Eight women between the ages of 66 and 82 were waiting at a yoga studio in Five Points. They weren’t there for yoga. The space belonged to the sister of a daughter- in-law who was willing to let them use it for free, and the location was convenient to all of them. They were a little bit skeptical but warm, welcoming, and willing. We talked about the benefits of breath, or what they preferred to call deep breathing. I played a short 10 minute guided meditation from My Space and another short guided visualization from YouTube. They liked it!
The following Monday, Fatima called again. The group had been discussing New Year’s resolutions and decided that they would like to commit 20 minutes each group for the first quarter of the year to practicing guided visualization. Fatima asked if I would be willing to come by once a week and share a guided visualization with them. They wanted to try out a little more breathing too.
The first four weeks we sat in chairs and started each session with guided inhales, exhales and some three part breaths. I had prepared a guided visualization for the first week and they had plenty of ideas for future sessions. They wanted to sit in a garden, visit the ocean and walk through a meadow. When I arrived on week five they had found yoga mats and bolsters and wanted to use them instead of the chairs. They wanted to visualize ancestors, planting seeds, and growing trees. A couple weeks later they began putting out yoga mats in honor of group members who had passed but they still felt connected with. The last week we spent a little extra time to check in about their thoughts on how their “experiment” went. They shared stories about times and ways they had used breathing to reduce their stress, focus, or make it through a tough moment. They were not ready to give up their “20 minute vacations” and decided to take turns creating and sharing guided visualizations with the group.
For me, their “20 minute vacations” were 20 minutes of bliss. It was an incredible experience!