News & Notes

A reflection on meditation and mindfulness

by Ariel Magno

Life can be crazy. There’s work, bills, grocery shopping, getting the car fixed, getting the cat to the vet; the list goes on and on. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to stop and breathe! So last night’s Wednesday One on mindfulness and meditation with Valerie Tate was a refreshing hour-long break from life.

We started the evening with everyone stating why they were here for, some people were there to further their journey on the path to meditation; most were like me, there to learn how to quiet life, if only for a few minutes. Then Val shared a brief history of her trip to and through meditation. She told us about a toxic relationship that she got out of in the early 90’s, when she discovered meditation and started her path. She overcame her food addiction, beginning in 2007, and has reduced her weight by 90 pounds from her top weight. Then in 2011 she was struck by a drunk driver while she was crossing the street. She was in the ICU for two months, she had to learn to walk again, and she shared her story of how she suffered from PTSD due to the accident.

After hearing Val’s story, she asked us to sit in meditation for 10 minutes. She taught us how to ground ourselves, moving forward in our seat, aligning our spines for total relaxation, and releasing our shoulder blades. We learned how to feel our breath through our nose. Once we had a general understanding of feeling breath move through our body, we sat for 10 minutes, allowing our minds to wonder if they wanted to and then slowly redirecting our thoughts back to the breath. Then we were prompted to write: “Right now, I’m aware of”. We repeated the breathing exercise a second time, but we walked slowly in a circle this time, then another writing exercise “What’s between me and feeling free”; a third time with the breathing exercise, sitting again, and one more writing exercise “This week I would like to be”.

During the time of meditation, I really became aware of the energy flowing through my body and throughout the room. It felt as if the world had slowed down. I couldn’t help but smile. Valerie said something last night that really stuck me: “Meditation is open, mindfulness is focused”. Very often, people confuse the two, but meditation can definitely often lead to mindfulness. After our meditation period, I was definitely much more aware of the energy in the room and in my body. I truly believe that once we start to take a moment for ourselves, we can really begin to focus on the finer details of our work.

Valerie writes about all of the things discussed in this blog at

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