Feeling stressed? Being hard on yourself? Overwhelmed at work? Freaked out by the Trump administration?
Give your mind a break from these everyday anxieties and learn to find some inner peace with a free stoop-front meditation class this Thursday, May 25, in Clinton Hill.
Led by certified meditation teacher, Danielle Fazzolari, no experience is necessary to attend the 30-minute session held outside of her building. Fazzolari conducted her first stoop meditation class last November, following Donald Trump’s election into office.
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The day after Trump was elected, Fazzolari sent an email to her neighbors asking, “How did this happen?” and “What now?”
“I don’t have the answers, but I strongly believe in unity and togetherness,” she added. “Let’s regroup together, find some quiet space in our hearts…and give ourselves what we need to move forward.”
A small group gathered on her stoop the following morning. “I think we had about 7 people. It was cold. Everyone had their hats and gloves on,” she recalls. “It was great because people were meeting each other for the first time and they live on my block.”
“It’s all guided. You don’t have to have any experience. We hung out afterward. We talked about it and we got to know each other,” she says of the community-focused event. After a few more sessions, the weather became too cold to continue, so Fazzolari decided to take a hiatus until the warmer weather returned. Her first spring class takes place at 7:30am this Thursday morning at 453 Washington Avenue.
Fazzolari previously worked on the business side of the fashion industry for ten years but always knew that she wanted to switch gears and do humanitarian work. “For years I was just looking outward for advice and help and searching for what I [was] supposed to be doing,” she says.
She quit her high-paying job in 2014 and booked a one-way ticket to India to do volunteer work. “What’s the most important thing that we can do for ourselves? What’s the secret to a happy life?,” Fazzolari asked many older people she met there.
“Family and meditation,” were the responses she kept hearing. “I had never meditated before,” she claims. “[When] I came home, I sat down quietly and just started meditating [with the help of instructional apps]…. It was the first time I went inward and started getting to know myself and trusting myself to figure out how I could give back to the world, instead of going outward and asking everyone else for advice,” she says.
“I kept meditating because I slowly noticed a change in my every day. [I was] understanding emotions better, understanding the big picture of why we’re here and how we can show up to live presently, ” she recalls. “It’s not easy though.”
Through meditation, Fazzolari says she discovered, “I’m being kinder to myself. I’m understanding others better. I’m having a different relationship with my emotions.”
Fazzolari got a job working the front desk of MNDFL, a meditation studio located in Greenwich Village. She describes it as “this open space for people to come and sit and learn how to meditate and do it together. It’s a really strong community.”
“That place really started changing my life and shifting everything, and started to cultivate that inner peace that we’re all looking for—getting out of that inner dialogue in our heads,” she explains. Fazzolari says she feels “lucky” to have found meditation, as she describes it, a “life-changing tool,” and decided that she had to “share it with others.”
She received her certification through MNDFL’s intensive five-month teaching program and now teaches at their studio in Williamsburg. She is also currently studying to teach children how to meditate. “I want to go to low income neighborhoods and schools where they don’t have the resources and help these kids handle their emotions,” she says.
“Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment and not trying to change it, and not judging it,” Fazzolari explains.
“Our society is very like, ‘Feel better. Keep busy. Self improve.’ Mindfulness is actually the opposite of that. It’s really letting yourself be and accepting that and being kind however you feel,” she explains.
“From the minute we wake up we’re worrying about what we have to do for the day…worry about the past, future…. [Meditation] gives you a break from that for just a moment, put[s] you into the present moment and then creates space to actually be able to feel, think, and move forward,” Fazzolari says.
“You’re retraining your system to live in the present moment instead of in your mind…. When you sit on the cushion, just say, ‘Okay, my mind is going crazy today. I’m going to accept that. I’m going to be kind.’ That’s retraining the heart to be gentle with ourselves.”
Who couldn’t use a little more kindness and mindfulness in their lives?
Stoop Meditation, Thursday, May 25, 7:30am to 8am at 453 Washington Avenue, Clinton Hill.