WHY I MEDITATE : Chanelle Crosby

As a part of a new series, we are diving deep with real people who meditate to hear their stories of why + how they weave meditation into their lives. Here’s my interview with Chanelle Crosby, a new resident of Portland, Oregon. Enjoy!

As a part of a new series, we are diving deep with real people who meditate to hear their stories of why + how they weave meditation into their lives. Here’s my interview with Chanelle Crosby, a new resident of Portland, Oregon. Enjoy!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

OHH, I wanted to be all the things…from a doctor and professional soccer player to music star like Michael Jackson. I even had a stand-up microphone set up with flashing lights!

What has been your latest area of focus in your life?

My latest focus has been slowing things down from how I live my everyday life, to thoughts and decision-making patterns, to learning practices like farming, and being a student of acupuncture and herbalism — all things that really force me to be mindful. I read the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer a couple years ago, and it changed my life in really delicious ways. There’s a specific quote (although the whole book is honestly quote worthy!) that  continues to stick with me…

 In gathering roots, just plunging in will get you nothing but a hole. We have to unlearn hurrying. This is about slowness. "First we give. Then we take." 

This reminds me to slow down, feel what I’m feeling, and allow space for thoughts, experiences, and anything else to be along with me. I’ve learned how to make choices, instead of rigid “this or that” decisions. I’ve learned that giving is a beautiful way to share our life with one another, the land, living creatures, and everything in between.

What does meditation look like for you?

I see meditation in mindfully listening to folks I talk with during the day, in my tea making and drinking rituals, sitting to eat a meal (instead of while driving in the car!), free writing in journals, and in more traditional ways of seated meditation, qi gong, and yoga. I practice qi gong at home every morning and evening. I also have a home Hatha yoga practice that I’m really not very great at doing with consistency yet — I think that’s why it’s called ‘practice’!

Meditation looks different for me depending on the day and what my body needs. If I need to move, I practice a more active qi gong series. If I don’t have energy to move but I am too sleepy to sit, I’ll do a standing meditation. And if I just know my body needs to sit, I’ll do a seated meditation or a guided meditation on my back.

I see meditation more broadly these days. I encourage myself to do what works best for me, in the moment. I went through phases of trying to rigidly hold myself into a specific form or routine which quickly turned into a practice that was unsupportive. I wasn’t being kind to myself when I skipped a session, or felt I had failed in some way. None of those thoughts were true. I find more discipline and consistency in knowing I am participating in my practice everyday, while also being able to actively choose the best ritual for me in the moment.

When and why did you first start meditating?

I was introduced to meditation as a kid when I played competitive soccer. Our team kept losing in championship games, so the coaches hired a sports psychologist to come out to practice one day. He taught us visualization skills that I never would have called ‘meditation’ back then, but now I understand that is exactly what is was.

My mother also gets some credit; every night before a game day, she’d tell me “dream goals” right before bed. I think this intention setting and being able to focus energy is fundamental in my mediation practice now.

How has meditation impacted your life?

How much time do we have?! It’s incredible to see how much better of a person I am when I have a meditation practice. I am able to think more clearly, feel what my body is experiencing, and show up in life in ways that are supportive. I’m able to participate more fully in life, with honesty and grace. It’s truly life-changing for me, and I hope it always is. I’m such a student!

I have to shoutout Erykah Badu here because at her show in Denver, Colorado circa 2012, she said something in between songs that I’ll never forget… 

If you still think what you thought 10 years ago, you have wasted 10 years of your life.

 

What does a sustainable future look like to you?

A sustainable future to me is regenerative. It’s uplifting cultures of collectivity and centering the land-based practices and people that colonization has attempted to erase — and it’s beautiful. I think Octavia E. Butler says it best…

All that you touch

you change.

All that you change

changes you.

The only lasting truth

is change. 

If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be?

Oppression would be something we talked about in the past tense. We’d value the complexity of life. The joy and pain, the light and the dark, and the truth in between. It seems we often want to choose, this or that, with us or against us. It’s divisive. So I’d love to see us emerge from that space into a compassionate understanding and willingness to be uncomfortable as we challenge ourselves into taking action that disrupts oppressive norms. “Oppression” would be a thing of the past in the future I see!

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You can follow Chanelle @thinkfeelbe on instagram.

Photo credits: Daisy Giles-U’u and Chanelle Crosby.