Meditation group aims to manage stress, focus in the moment - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Meditation group aims to manage stress, focus in the moment

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 9:55 am, Mon Aug 13, 2012.

Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Feel the oxygen flow into your lungs. Harness your thoughts and worries about what has passed and what will come, and let your breath carry them out as you exhale. Repeat until your mind is clear. Do you feel better?

Meditation is about being in the moment and going deeper inside of yourself, according to meditation and yoga instructor Jessica Thiel.

“In our daily lives, we focus on what happens next or what happened before,” she says. “One way to meditate throughout the day is to focus in the moment, notice the beauty around you by bringing yourself and mind into the present.”

Thiel, 26, is an instructor at Dahn Yoga and Health Centers, Inc., in Gilbert. She also coordinates the Energy Meditation Circle in Gilbert, a group of people organized on MeetUp.com. The group, currently with about 24 weekly participants, meets every Tuesday and Wednesday.

A typical session, which is free to attend, consists of light stretching, low-key exercising and focused breathing. The group predominantly practices meditation based on the practices of “Sun Do,” an ancient Korean Taoist meditation method centered on energy principles and breathing.

Francesco Buccieri, 56, attends the circle on Wednesdays. He has meditated daily for 32 years, every morning for about 20 minutes while his coffee brews. He sits in half lotus position — with his left foot on top of his right thigh and his right leg tucked under his left — and counts, one in and two out, pushing his thoughts away and welcoming the new day.

Buccieri, now retired, started meditating when he was creating and building custom homes.

“I worked in a very creative environment, but experienced a blockage,” he says. Buccieri says meditation helped induce creativity and also helped him “open up to variances in life and be more accepting.” He attributes opening and running an organic coffee shop for two years in Prescott to meditation.

“Meditation lead me to do that, and I had a blast,” he says. 

One of the circle’s leaders, Joy Kim, 30, has been meditating for more than five years. She is a manager for Body and Brain Center, a Dahn Yoga franchise.

She and Thiel hope that the Gilbert circle will grow through a grassroots movement, so more people can experience meditation. The group is growing by about five new participants each week.

“I feel hopeful and driven,” Kim says. “What would be better than to share that?”

The women say meditation has helped them discern a definitive purpose in their previously unfulfilling lives. Kim worked in public relations and became apathetic. Thiel was unable to manage her stress as a nursing student.

Both believe practicing meditation helped them manage stress and heal ailments. Kim has digestion problems that have improved, and Thiel was on nine medications, including asthma medication and antidepressants. She has reduced that number to two.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, meditation helps clear the day’s “information overload” that contributes to stress. It may help alleviate illnesses aggravated by stress, like allergies, high blood pressure and cancer.

Besides meditation’s physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, Thiel believes that people should meditate because it can be done anywhere at any time, by focusing 100 percent in the moment and on what you are doing.

“There is no right or wrong way to do it; it’s up to you,” says Buccieri.

• Angela, a senior studying journalism at Arizona State University, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or tribintern@evtrib.com

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