Welltalks: Anita Cheung of Moment Meditation
I met Anita just over a year ago at one of her “social yoga” events. It was part of a series of yoga classes designed to allow more interaction amongst the people attending, and was hosted at cool venues throughout the city (that one happened to be at a juice shop called Melu Juice). To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but after about two minutes of listening to Anita speak, I knew this girl was going to accomplish great things.
Fast forward to a few months later and she was opening Moment Meditation – a beautiful meditation studio located in the heart of Gastown in Vancouver – which is where she greets me for this interview with open arms and cup of tea. I chatted with Anita about the benefits of meditation, what makes Moment Mediation’s approach unique, and some practical tips for people who are curious about meditation, but don’t know where to start.
Tell us about your journey to Moment Meditation:
Like most things, Moment Meditation was not a linear path. I was first introduced to meditation during university. I was struggling with anxiety and depression, and had been dealing with an eating disorder since high school. All of these went by undiagnosed until I hit rock bottom. Meditation was the one tool that was able to get me out of that headspace and that made me feel better. The truth is we all have good days and bad days, whether it’s a clinical diagnosis or not. I knew that I wanted to share meditation with people, but at that point, I didn’t realize that it could also be a business.
After university, I got certified as a yoga teacher and was seeking out my own identity within the already saturated yoga community in Vancouver. I was really interested in smaller classes and building connections between people. Eventually I started hosting pop-up Moment Meditation events throughout the city, like free drop-in meditation classes and a Moment Meditation mobile trailer set up on Robson Street. That’s when my business partners found me and reached out. We all come from different backgrounds (psychology, sales and yoga) but all had a similar vision: we wanted to create and cultivate a mindful community. And thus Moment Meditation, the space as it is now, was born.
Can you describe your method and what makes it unique?
We base the Moment Meditation method off of an understanding of the brain and how meditation can support it. One of my partners is a clinical psychologist, so we take a lot from her practice and find ways to introduce it to people in a group class setting. The class starts with a mindful activity like drawing or writing to get people settled in. After that we’ll go through a couple guided meditations and then take a few moments to discuss and connect with one another. Our meditations are divided into different categories: “Calm” that targets the back of the brain, “Focus” that targets the front of the brain and “Happy” that targets the left prefrontal cortex. We also incorporate specific words and cues while guiding a meditation that people can truly understand and relate to. We believe we have found a method that really works.
What are some of the benefits of meditation you have seen take place in your clients? Resilience, which is the skill that allows you to get back up again when life knocks you down; the ability to recognize feelings and thoughts as they are happening, and to become the observer rather than the reactor; a deeper understanding of oneself; and of course patience.
Can you share three practical tips for people who want to start a meditation practice?
1. Make it as easy as possible to create a habit. Tie it to something you are already doing, for example the five minutes it takes to make your coffee in the morning.
2. Use accountability in your favour; schedule a meditation class with your friend and rely on each other to show up.
3. Be patient with yourself. For some reason we expect ourselves to be born good meditators, but like most things in life we need to learn them first. We learn how to talk, how to walk, and the mind is no different – meditation is a learning process.
What inspires you?
So many things! Art and people who push boundaries to bring forth a message whether it’s through dance, photography, etc.
What do you do to stay in the moment?
Caring for my plants, cuddling and meditation, of course!