There’s a new studio opening this week in Santa Monica where clients can come in and…sit. Unplug Meditation’s only offerings are 45-minute meditation classes, each led by an instructor who guides students through sessions as they sit on padded cushions. It’s designed to be like a cycling studio, offering nearly-identical classes on the hour, every hour, so busy adults can choose one that fits their schedule and then get on with their day.
While Unplug Meditation is unique in its meditation-only focus, yoga studios and spiritual centers in cities across the country are increasingly offering meditation classes or time slots where you can come and meditate on your own. But given the fact that most of us barely have time to fit in a workout, is trying to squeeze in a trip to go meditate in public actually worth it? Definitely, say mindfulness advocates, and here’s why:
It means you’ll actually meditate. It’s easy to make mindfulness a priority when you know you’re going to a certain place, at a certain time, to do it. “It’s like working out at the gym instead of at home—it depends on the person, but a lot of people are more likely to take it seriously if they know they need to go somewhere,” says Mallika Chopra, founder of the spirituality, yoga, and wellness blog Intent. Plus, you’ll need to sign up and pay a small fee to participate in most classes, so brushing it off will be even less appealing.
You’ll connect with others. Just because you’re sitting in silence doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. “Even though the practice is very individual, it’s nice to connect with people in silence as well,” Chopra says. “Group meditations create a sort of resonance that helps you feel more peaceful, more quiet.”
It hones your focus. Meditating in your living room is great, but when pets want to play, or you can’t get your mind off of surrounding clutter or a nearby laptop, it can be hard to get zen. Still, that’s nothing compared to the difficulty of pushing aside your own thoughts. This is where having someone talk you through the process can help. “Sometimes people struggle sitting with meditating at home by themselves, and frankly, they give up,” Chopra says. “Hearing someone else and following directions can help you let go.” (Find a meditation teacher in your area through the American Meditation Society.)