Meditation has become an important part of my life these past couple of months. If you’ve been following this website, you may have seen some of my previous posts on leading a more mindful life. I was thrilled to find out that Vancouver has a great new space called Moment Meditation, located right in downtown. I wanted to find out more about this meditation oasis so I sat down with one of Moment’s co-founders Anita Cheung this week. I hope our conversation will inspire you to check them out!
1) What was the inspiration behind this space?
There are three founders, Evian, Hiroko and myselF. We all found meditation through various points in our life but we found each other in a really interesting way. Moment the brand, the concept as it is, is a drop-in meditation studio, which was technically started almost two and a half years ago. I had this crazy idea to open a drop-in meditation studio as a pop-up for a week back in 2014. This was in Chinatown, it was a street front retail space that I took over for a week and ran it like I do Moment. You could come in and do audio-guided meditations, there were group classes and at night we had speaker events and mindful dinners. That was completely self-funded. I felt so compelled to do it because meditation had a really huge impact on me, it helped me come out of depression. It was one of the long-lasting tools that really stuck. I am very passionate about it and wanted to share it with the world.
But at the time, I didn’t think there was a living to be had from meditation, it didn’t feel right. I focused on my other projects and left Moment as it was. Not this past December but the one before, it crept up again and I had this desire to create a mobile meditation space. The opportunity came up for a one-day pop-up because a friend had a trailer I could borrow. That got a little bit of press because it was right around Christmas and everyone is stressed out during that time but now they had an oasis right in downtown Vancouver to take a moment. The next day Evian called me, I didn’t know him but we started talking and he said I have this idea and you’re doing it, can we partner? So we met and chatted a little bit and the next time I met him, he was with Hiroko and they had already been talking about. It was serendipitous because they were talking about it and the next day Evian saw it in the newspaper. Our original intention and still our intention now is to create a mobile fleet of meditation spaces. Our intention is to have one in Chicago, LA, London and here. We opened this space as a pilot for our project. We got the keys to this place in September, now just hired a bunch of teachers and now it’s out in the world.
2) What are some of the services and classes that people can come and take at Moment right now?
Right now we have a class schedule that is similar to a fitness studio; early morning, after work and a few in mid-day. They are 45 minute classes except for lunch, who are only 30 mins. All of our classes are structured around different parts of the brain that are trained or activated when you meditate. Hiroko’s background is in content development, she’s a psychologist expert in all-things brain. She has created the program around Calm, Focus and Happiness, because those are three distinct parts of the brain. So people can choose those three classes or they can choose a Moment Signature class. We’re looking to roll out a couple of other fun features like virtual classes, so projecting some big players in meditation from LA, New York, onto our screens and have people come in. We have a couple of big players locally that are going to be leading some of the classes here.
Other things that people can do, is just book in, kind of like car2go, you can book 5, 10, 30 mins of quiet time at the studio.
The third pillar is our measurability of meditation. Hiroko spent her life doing this kind of work on a one-on-one level with her patients at her clinic practice. What we’ve created is this space and the technology that allows people to measure how they are meditating and how it’s working for them. What we call the MQ, it’s like an IQ but “Mindfulness Quotient“, is basically your ability to respond to stress. It looks at your brainwave activity, breath rate and heart rate, muscle tension and puts you through this little stress test and then shows you how well you can focus and how well you can bounce back from being in a stressful environment. What science has told us is that if you meditate, you can do that much more quickly, you’re more flexible, you’re more resilient. So people can really see the numbers behind, if I meditate for a month, come back at the end of the meditation and see what your score is and how it has changed.
3) What are the tools that people can use when they come in for individual meditation?
We have audio-guided meditations, there are five to choose from right now. We are looking to change it up so that there’s a menu and every month there’s a special. This month we have Casey-Jo from The Peak, she has an amazing voice and she’s recorded something for us. Next month, we are doing a spoken-word meditation. We will constantly cycle things in and out. We’ll record some of our teachers as well but we’re hoping to expand to even more people.
4) For people that are new to meditation, what would you recommend as a good introduction for them?
I would recommend a group class because there’s strength in numbers. Our classes are fun. They’re 45 mins long but you’re not meditating for 45 mins. There’s a portion at the beginning that’s either just writing or drawing, a quiet moment that just gets you out of your work mode and into this contemplative mode. There’s a lot of chatting, you get to meet some great people that are like-minded and in the same boat. It’s all guided, so 10 mins of guided meditation, we come back up, we have a chat and ask questions. So then we’ll dive into a second meditation 10 mins max and have a quick chat afterwards and then you’re done.
5) Do you find that the city of Vancouver is a city that is open to this kind of space?
I think that the city is getting there and that there’s a lot of education that is still to be had, which surprised us. It’s a fun surprise because we get to educate people on what it means to be meditating and how different it is from yoga, how it stands alone from yoga. The time is right, the tide is changing, people are open to it. If we would have done it two years ago, it wouldn’t have gone as well. People are curious now. There’s still that bit of fear but we’re noticing that people are interested and craving it almost.
For more information on Moment Meditation, go here.