Yoga classes and meditation apps aside, it’s not easy to truly live mindfully, today. If you live or work downtown and use social media as often as ‘the rest of us,’ you know how quickly your best intentions fall by the wayside. The solution? Get you a supportive community you see as often as your Instagram friends. Good Space (360 Dufferin #106) is a new studio that’s dedicated to making yoga and meditation a lifestyle, offering a steady lineup of yoga and events, and a by-donation pricing structure for their twice weekly meditation classes. They’re leaving you no excuse to not get, and stay, centered.
We met with Good Space founder, Meg Alexander, to hear more about her vision for the space, and also, ask for some mindfulness pointers.
EditSeven: How did you discover and fall in love with meditation? Did it always come naturally, or was it a hard-earned skill?
Meg Alexander: I didn’t fall in love with it at the very start, but I wouldn’t say it was a hard-earned skill, either. The more I stuck with it the more I started to see the benefits of it–you do just need to dedicate the time, though.
I started meditating in India and initially had high expectations of what I was supposed to get out of it. It wasn’t until giving it more consistent time and then seeing how I could bring it with me off the mat into my everyday life did I start to fall in love with it. That’s when I was like ‘oh, I get this now.’ It’s not just about the quiet time you dedicate, but how you take what you learn in the practice and apply it to everyday situations and stresses.
E7: What was the initial vision for Good Space? Why Parkdale, why community meditation, why this holistic mix of offerings, and why NOW?
MA: I feel like Parkdale really needed a space like this. All of the studios I was going to stopped at Ossington and then didn’t start again until Roncesvalles–there was a huge underserved gap. I wanted to create a space that I could identify with, make my go-to, bring my friends to, and appreciate for more than just being a fitness studio. Yoga and the philosophies behind yoga are truly a lifestyle and I hoped to create a space that reflected that.
I thought about what I look for when I go to a yoga class: do I want to move my body, do I want to relax and stretch out, or do I want to have some time for stillness and quiet? So I kept the 3-class structure super simple, allowing people to get to know their instructors as opposed to relying heavily on a style of practice or a descriptive class title to determine which class they’re going to take that day. Because yoga can be intimidating and we don’t want to overcomplicate the choosing process. I want as many people to see its benefits as possible.
E7: What you’ve created really is a lifestyle destination, so coming here, in and of itself, is like a practice.
MA: As I said, I find so much value in using my meditation practice in all areas of my life. We host events in the space that don’t focus on movement, but instead have the common thread of mindfulness behind them. You don’t need to be sitting still or going through a yoga sequence to examine things thoughtfully and with purpose. The space is a blank canvas for whatever you want to do with it.
E7: You have a great selection of instructors, too.
MA: I chose instructors that I thought would grow with Good Space as we grow as a studio. I want the people who teach here to want to be here and want to make this place special and build a community. I’m very fortunate that I get to choose who I work with.
E7: What’s a daily habit you would recommend for people who want to live a more mindful life? Are you big on morning or nightly routines?
MA: One easy thing I do is when I walk somewhere, I’ll focus only on what’s immediately around me as opposed to thinking about what I’ve done in my day so far or what I’m about to do. I find that it’s a really nice time to re-centre and connect with the present moment. Particularly if you don’t think you’d be able to do that in a traditional meditation setting, there is so much stimuli on the street that it’s easy to stay focused on the now.
E7: I love that. When I’m on the streetcar that’s when I get most in my head, or anxious, and I never arrive somewhere and think like, ‘I’m so glad I did all that worrying.’ On that note, please tell me about your relationship with your phone. Do you have any ‘personal rules’ around your phone use?
MA: I never check my phone when I wake up. I’ll make a tea, get a coffee, or do my morning routine and then, after allowing my body to be awake for a little bit and adjust to what that feels lie, I’ll check in to what my phone is calling me to do that day. And no phones when you walk! Distracting and dangerous.
The phone thing is hard because a lot of what waits on your phone is so easily digestible. There’s no consciousness to what you’re doing and often very little thought in all the scrolling. There’s a time and a place for letting your brain go that way, but it’s not the 18+ times a day you might pick up your phone, I think.
E7: Good Space is so minimal in aesthetic and atmosphere. Are you into crystals and incense and fun meditation ‘props,’ or nah?
MA: We have a few crystals that a friend gave to me that I treasure, palo santo, sage etc. but at the end of the day I wanted the space to be pretty simple and minimal. I was working at a studio in Melbourne, Australia a couple of years ago that was super light, airy, and open. I felt that this sort of aesthetic lent itself really nicely to the practice, and was definitely influenced by this space in designing my own here in Toronto.
E7: What are some super unhelpful misconceptions about meditation you want to give people permission to ditch?
MA: Don’t have any expectations coming into it. The best advice I got was from an instructor who said “meditation can feel like failing at meditation and a lot of time it is” and that’s ok. The whole point is to stick with it even though you feel like you’re failing at it. Don’t have these preconceived notions of what is right and what it wrong. It’s all good.
For more information on the Good Space Toronto click HERE!
(Story by Contributing Editor, Kait Fowlie)