Perhaps for the first time, people in Hay River will be shown how to meditate.
Shawna Martel, a nurse and a born-and-raised resident of the community, is planning to begin sessions this week on the different forms of meditation.
“I’m going to teach people,” she said. “Anybody can do meditation, anybody. It’s a simple breathing technique that people learn how to do and then you can branch off into the different techniques. It’s all based on just a simple breathing technique.”
The sessions will be for beginners.
Martel has been teaching meditation classes in Grande Prairie for about four months as she visited her mother in the Alberta city.
She was certified in the spring through a transformation meditation course, and she also took a course in Vipassana, which is another form of meditation.
In addition, she has completed a course in Shambhala meditation, and has also learned about other kinds, such as transcendental and Zen.
“There are so many different techniques that I took a course to be able to teach it,” she said.
Martel explained meditation can help people relieve stress created by work and even help deal with past traumas.
“You can learn to let things go and you live in the present moment,” she said. “When you worry about the future, you have anxiety, and when you worry about the past, you get depression. So when you live in the present, you don’t have either. When you meditate, you’re taught to live in the present moment, and just be.”
Martel said some people click with different types of meditation more than others.
“When I meditate on my own personally every day, I do two to three different types of meditation,” she said. “I do Chakra meditation, I do abundance meditation and I also do Vipassana.”
The 40-year-old has been meditating off and on for about two years but got more deeply into it about 10 months ago after taking the courses.
“It’s helped me tremendously,” she said. “I have a more positive attitude. I’m more compassionate to myself and others which is really key in meditation. It teaches you how to love yourself and then you can also love others because you cannot give of yourself unless you give yourself love first.”
Martel announced the meditation sessions on Facebook, and was a little surprised by the overwhelmingly reaction. As of Oct. 4, the announcement had garnered 70 likes and numerous positive comments.
The reaction included people saying they are interested and exciting about the idea of meditation sessions.
“OMG! So looking forward to this!” commented one person, while others called it great news and an awesome idea.
Martel believes there are currently a few people in Hay River who meditate.
“I think a few people try to learn online, which is really hard, or by reading books,” she said. “They don’t get the concepts that your thoughts are always going to be there. I think people have their preconceived notion that when you meditate your mind is supposed to be blank, but that’s not how meditation works. So when I teach it, I teach people not to get involved with their thoughts. I think a lot of people that have tried get frustrated because their mind is never going to be blank.”
Martel pointed out that meditation is not a religious thing and can be done by anyone of any religion.
She is hoping to begin the meditation sessions this week. As of last week, she was still working out the details for the time and location.
She did say the sessions will be drop-in probably twice a week, on a donation basis, and continue indefinitely.
Martel is not aware of there ever before being meditation sessions in Hay River.
“I know this may sound kind of a little bit quirky but when you meditate in a group, there’s more positive energy, I guess, more positive, vibrational energy,” she said. “So you feel that positive energy.”