Finding Zen

As we sit in our homes and wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to come to an end, we couldn’t help but think of ways to help us get through this time and manage our daily anxieties.

Enter Diane Nickelberg-Barnett, owner, founder and seasoned meditation guide of Grounded Meditation, part of Pryority Wellness at 45 Grove Street in New Canaan. Nickelberg-Barnett began her meditative journey at 18 with a course in transcendental meditation. Years later, she found herself looking to find balance after focusing on her career as a real estate attorney. Her passion for mindfullness and desire to help others led Nickelberg-Barnett to teaching and she has now been working to help her students find their own balance in both corporate and private settings.

At press time in early April, Grounded Meditation was still closed, but Nickelberg-Barnett was doing the next best thing to being in the studio—providing virtual mediation sessions via Facebook Live. Making mediation “user-friendly” is one of Nickelberg-Barnett’s main goals; she explains that students don’t need prior experience in order to start an effective meditation practice. While it may be difficult for some to be still with themselves, it gets easier with time and more effective with practice. If a student has difficulty sitting still, she might suggest starting with short periods of mediation—five minutes at a time—twice a day and gradually build up. Walking meditation is another method used to help some students get started. Ideally, meditating every day for at least 20 minutes is most effective, she says.

Grounded Meditation offers group classes, private sessions, single classes, packages, memberships and workshops. Services range between $18 for a single class to $199 for two private sessions and two months of unlimited classes.

Students of meditation will begin to notice subtle positive psychological and physical shifts in their daily lives, Nickleberg-Barnett says. Meditation helps lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol which causes weight gain and many other medical issues. Scientific studies have shown that meditation helps increase focus and clarity and can help with performance at work, it can reduce memory loss, promotes better sleep, relieve anxiety and leave individuals feeling overall lighter.

“It’s not magic; it’s not hocus-pocus; it’s just about allowing yourself to be open to something different,” she says.


How to do it effectively, anywhere you are.

Find a setting that minimizes outside stimuli so you will be able to focus. Close your eyes or just let your lids become heavy.

Use your breath as a point of focus. Pay attention to the inhale and exhale. We breathe approximately 20,000 times a day and mostly just ignore our breath, notice what the breath feels like traveling through your body.

As your mind wanders, notice your thoughts and distractions. Observe them like you’re watching a movie—something appears on the screen and then it’s gone. Don’t latch on, don’t follow, don’t “go down the rabbit hole” with them.

When you realize you are thinking, don’t try to force thoughts or feelings away—just notice, observe and gently return your attention to your breath.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having difficulty sitting still or finding a moment of inner peace. It’s a process that requires practice—just like playing an instrument.

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