Qalvy Grainzvolt Q & A
Why is meditation important?
Meditation helps us wake up. We do this by knowing ourselves better and more profoundly. Rather than thinking the ocean is only the waves and surface. In a similar way, who we are … our consciousness is not only the thoughts and activity at the surface of our minds. Through reflection that comes with meditation, we can know the depths and treasures that each of us possess at our inner core. Meditation is a gift we give ourselves but even more so, it is a gift, in fact, that we offer to the world.
Tell me some quantifiable results from meditating?
There are many forms of meditation so with different aims and goals there are varying benefits. I can’t speak to the benefits of all forms. I would say that stress-reduction, relaxation and deeper self-awareness are quantifiable results that accompany most meditation styles. Countless studies indicate so. Cultivating inner peace, compassion and gratitude, and greater capacity to deal with, for lack of a better word, difficult people in life, are additional benefits that I think with time can be seen in a tangible way. Each individual is unique and the benefits will be equally unique to each person who practices meditation.
What impact has meditation had in your life?
For me, meditation is something that began as a sedentary activity but has blossomed into something more. Finding inner stillness helps me to make sense of my life each step along the way and allows for moments of precious insight and empowerment to arise. Living my daily life with these small moments of awakening, I find that when I am not sitting in formal meditation, my daily routines and encounters become, in a sense, a walking meditation. Acquiring this state of mind as often as possible, for me, cycles back into a deeper meditation when I sit, more joy, more peace and a more refreshed perspective when I’m walking.
What would you say to someone who is interested in meditation, but is intimidated to try it?
Observing and being aware of our reactions and thoughts are so important. Feeling intimidated is a valid feeling when approaching something unknown, like meditative practice. If we break it down a bit, the ingredients of a beginning meditation are: finding a relaxed posture in a quiet atmosphere, breathing comfortably, a little bit of time and an open mind. I think most people have experience with each one of these ‘ingredients’, so there is nothing truly foreign about the practice. What sort of experience each one of us ‘cooks’ with these ingredients can be different, unique and equally wonderful. Especially with guided meditation, there is an added layer of comfort and support that you can rely on with a meditation guide helping the process to unfold in a meaningful way.
What drew you to Buddhism?
Simply put, the feeling of openness drew me to Buddhism.
Coming from a background that is hybrid in nature — with both Asian and European ancestry — I was always a little at loss when trying to label who I am. Growing up in NYC, at various times my public school forms asked for ethnic background and instead of checking off several boxes to piece together my identity I was always tempted to write “human being.” In Buddhism, I feel at home to be the unique human being that I am and to continue that evolution to see how my existence makes sense in this world.
What is dharma? No English translation exists, but the concept exists in Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism
Dharma is a set of teachings shared by the Buddha to help others transcend the cycle of suffering that is innate to the human condition. To me, dharma is a road map that encourages one to walk a middle way. It is a path that encourages balance in daily life, allowing one to cultivate deeper wisdom and awakening. Life is transformed when we apply this awakened perspective to our daily living.
What is unique about Shinnyo-en?
Shinnyo-en places special focus on bringing out one’s core nature through discovering our path to peace. In finding a path to peace, we aim to see how we can go beyond the self, to bring out our altruistic heart and mind that has the capacity to contribute to the world. This state of mind and heart leads to an awakened state. With a unique form of meditation and a depth of understanding of the Nirvana sutra [Siddhartha Gautama Buddha’s final teaching], we come to know whom we are at a deeper level, empowering us to live more fully and joyously.
What is the link between nutrition and spiritual well-being?
Well-being has a spectrum of definitions. In my past experiences as a medical provider in the field of nutrition, well-being it is not just the absence of illness, it is the presence of a mind-body-mind complex that flourishes.
There is no doubt that what we eat has a direct influence on our physical wellness. In a similar way, what we think, how we think, and how we digest the experiences of our daily lives directly influences the wellness of our mind, our consciousness and our inner state of being. The type of food we eat, how quickly we eat it and how much all has a bearing on our blood chemistry and overall equilibrium. Everything is interconnected and I truly believe that with awareness of both our physical and mental nutrition, we can experience well-being at a very high-caliber.
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