How to Begin a Meditation Practice

Winter 2021

From her Baltimore bedroom, Adrielle Jefferson ’17 walks Colgate students through a meditation practice that involves light movement. She incorporates poses she learned through a decade of yoga classes while guiding viewers on breathing and focusing. Often, she’ll point the camera away from herself to remove the pressure of comparing oneself to the instructor. “Adhering to a schedule, making the videos, and actually meditating while I’m filming has been really helpful in my own practice,” she says.

Jefferson has dabbled in meditation since high school and solidified her practice during her final years at Colgate. So, when Susan Thomson, director of the women’s studies program, suggested that Jefferson create a virtual course for current students, Jefferson jumped at the chance to spread her self-care wisdom. In the fall, she taught the hour-long Monday Meditations course in conjunction with the Center for Women’s Studies. 

After a long day as a compliance manager at a charter school in Washington, D.C., managing enrollment and state testing (and baking vegan cheesecakes as a side gig), Jefferson practices meditation to relieve stress. She’s not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation may be helpful for people with conditions ranging from high blood pressure to anxiety. Today, the practice of meditation can also incorporate movement as a way to redirect energy while remaining mindful. 

At the beginning of each video session, Jefferson sets a mantra. In her first one, she chose “I am.” Here’s more about who she is: 

My big disclaimer is that I’m just here as a guide offering suggestions. I really wanted to create space where you don’t have to look at me at all.

You are your body’s best advocate. You know yourself the best. You know what feels good and what doesn’t feel good. The way I need to meditate today might be completely different than how I meditated yesterday or even in the past. Being able to tune in with yourself every single time is super important. 

Breath work is the Holy Grail. The whole purpose of yoga [and meditation] is to slow your breathing and be in touch with your breath. What’s always brought me back to the mat is being in stressful moments and then seeing how I’m able to use what I’ve learned in yoga.

Often, a lot of self-worth and esteem is wrapped up in how well you do. Just knowing that, no matter what happens, you’re still enough as you are and you’re worthy — that’s something I was really trying to hit home [in my classes].

My mantra for self-care is “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” I always try to make sure I feel restored, and seen, and validated by myself.

It was nice to see people doing the college thing and then remembering my own experiences. 

[During a pandemic] it’s a good time to have these videos because you’re in your room anyway. It’s nice to be able to be transported elsewhere.