Taking A Mindful Minute To Chat About Meditation With #popupMOMENT Founder Anita Cheung

0
1471

Vancouver Is Awesome is a proud sponsor of thisopenspace,
a full service pop-up production studio with a flagship storefront at 434 Columbia St., Chinatown. It’s a pop-up ready space and an idea playground where they’ve given #roomtoplay to over 70 pop-up concepts since September 2012.

Every time a new pop-up is about to launch @thisopenspace, you’ll catch a sneak peek here on V.I.A.! 

A different type of pop-up opened earlier this morning in Vancouver’s thisopenspace. Offering drop-in guided meditation, yoga, a speaker series, and a four-course long table style mindful meal, #popupMOMENT founder Anita Cheung aims to spark curiosity about mindfulness and meditation.

If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Anita is also the founder of Social Yoga and takes the practice to unconventional places including sold-out sessions at 33 Acres Brewery and Fortune Sound Club (during off hours, of course). This week, she’s bringing the spirit of Social Yoga with a focus on changing perception around meditation to thisopenspace at 434 Columbia St.

We chatted with Anita Cheung over the weekend about her life as a yogi, mindfulness as an artform, and how she plans to change our outlook on meditation.

#popupMOMENT opened it’s doors earlier today and runs until Sunday. In the spirit of sustainability, they are selling off all the fixtures and decoration at the closing party on Saturday. Check out their hours at thisopenspace.ca/upcoming and find all the places to connect with #popupMOMENT here.

Hey Anita, as someone who freely admits to not having been a fan of yoga initially, what was the turning point for you, and how did meditation come into play?

Anita Cheung: Though I practiced on and off for many years, it wasn’t until I moved abroad that I fell hard for yoga. At a time of transition, I found a sense of home in the practice. I disliked the whole yoga hype in Vancouver but when I was on the other side of the world, it provided me with a strong sense of comfort.

To be perfectly honest, sit-down meditation didn’t come into play as a regular practice until relatively recently. I always thought I was too “type-A” and too much of a go-getter to sit still. My chasing eventually caught up to me and I fell into a really negative state of mind and a negative state of being. Someone suggested I try a really short and simple breath meditation and from there, I was hooked. Meditation taught me how to detach from my thoughts, and from there, an upward spiral began.

Photo 2014-09-08, 1 46 09 PM.jpg

With the proliferation of yoga studios in Vancouver (where one could meditate), what makes #popupMOMENT unique?

AC: Despite being organized by a yoga teachers, MOMENT is not a yoga studio. Although lots of people love yoga, there are probably just as many people who don’t. In fact, I would compare MOMENT to an art exhibit, except instead of looking at paintings hung on walls while listening to an audio guide, you’re prompted to sit back and observe your thoughts.

This pop-up is intended to introduce people to the idea that mindfulness and meditation is easy. Yes, mindfulness happens in yoga studios, but it can also happen in boardrooms, bedrooms, and the kitchen table. It’s all about hitting the pause button, however momentarily, to tap into what’s showing up for you right now at this very moment.

 

Your other project, Social Yoga, emphasizes the importance of connecting with one another by way of yoga practice. Is MOMENT based on the same concept? Or would you say it’s more about an individual and their own solo experience with meditation?

AC: MOMENT is a bit of both. It is founded upon the belief that when we change the way we think, we can change the world around us. We can’t begin to change until we learn to sit still with our thoughts. Our thoughts give us some insight into why we see the world as we do.

We spend so much time in relationship to others around us, yet we are often walking around simply reacting as per our programmed behavior (you know, the one we’ve developed over years). Meditation allows us to rewrite this. We take some time to step back, notice that our thoughts are just thoughts- we control whether or not we act upon them.

And then, we choose to act, rather than react.

In a society that expects instant gratification, how do you promote and explain the value of meditation?

In a way, there is an instantaneous feel-good response from meditation. Just sitting down for a moment and taking deep breaths (rather than the shallow breaths we run around with all day) can have a soothing effect on the body. However, meditation is not just about relaxation.

What I often tell people is that even if your mind starts to wander, the fact that you notice it is wandering, is one step towards meditation. You’ll find yourself more able to concentrate, more alert, and less reactive. Just like people notice when you start hitting the gym, people will notice when you start to incorporate a regular meditation practice because you’ll probably be a much more pleasant person to be around.

 

What do you really want to see come out of #popupMOMENT?

AC: When I first thought of the idea, I told myself that if one person comes out of this event with their perception of meditation changed, I’ll be happy. If that person starts to look into how to meditate and begins a practice of their own, I’ll be over the moon. I still stand by this. The goal of MOMENT is simply to spark curiosity about mindfulness and meditation. [end]