Begüm, originally from Istanbul, but living in Frankfurt and member of our English Yoga Meetup community has recently launched her own podcast about mindfulness. Tune in!
Begüm, what gave you the idea to start this project?
It is true that most yoga classes start with a short breathing exercise for around 5 min. and then we start moving our body. But the main reason that people go to yoga classes is to move their body and most of us avoid working on our minds. My mind was so busy like a jungle that I would instantly open my eyes whenever there is a bugging thought coming to my mind. It took me a while to let those thoughts go and relax my mind. But when that happened, I have seen lots of benefits from meditation in my life. I just want to show people the ways to have the best version of themselves and have less stress in life and enjoy what they have at that moment in their lives. I would like to also offer people how they can carry their meditation practice to their daily life. Because what we tend to do most of the time is we sit quietly in our meditation seats and then after that 5 minutes, we leave that state of mind, we go to work, run errands, deal with challenging things in our daily lives, we forget about the things we experienced, the thoughts we observed during our meditation and we are triggered by tiny things. Yes, we come back to meditation every day but as long as we don’t practice mindfulness in our daily life, that 5 minutes doesn’t really impact our lives and change our perspective. So, I aim to share what I have been practicing in my daily life. Some of them I was doing myself, some of them are from what I read in books on mindfulness or listened to in other guided meditations. And we have also the best tool to connect people now, the internet. That’s why I thought a podcast would be an efficient way to achieve my goal.
How do yoga and meditation help you in your daily life or corporate job?
Oh, it helped me a lot. The way that I react to things has changed. I was easily panicking about things before starting meditation. After meditation, I learned to take a few breaths to calm myself before reacting to anything. Also, maybe some of you have heard that meditation helps to concentrate better on any task that you are doing. This is what I have seen in my job and daily life. I believe this comes from being fully present at the moment when you do a task. Regardless you are cooking for dinner or writing an email, as long as you are fully aware of yourself or your environment at that moment, that task is done better. But this is a journey and I am still failing sometimes, and all is part of that process. Once you notice you lose your focus, it means you start to practice mindfulness. That moment is your wake up, I believe :-) Also, meditation and mindfulness help you make peace with the things you cannot change in your life. You learn to work with that situation and surrender. Always do your best, of course. When the mindfulness leaders talk about surrender, most of us confuse it with giving up. It is doing your best but sometimes something is not meant to happen and this is when we need the mindfulness to be happy at where we are in our lives.
What brought you to Frankfurt and which advice you give to other expats living here?
After finishing my study in Heidelberg, I found my current full-time job in Frankfurt. I started doing yoga when I moved to Frankfurt. I was not feeling connected to the city at the beginning as it was a new environment and I wanted to try yoga to calm my mind. My advice for the expats would be to go to places that they feel most like themselves and happy. Either yoga or fitness classes, language clubs. It doesn’t matter. I came to the understanding that when you are doing what you love, you attract the same kind of energy around you. And the English Yoga Meetup classes are great opportunity to meet people, for instance.
How does your morning routine look like?
I am a real early bird, that’s why it is very easy for me to wake up early to spend time for my routine before going to work. I quickly wash up after getting up and then sit on my bed or my meditation cushion and meditate between 10-20 min depending on my sleepiness or rush that day :-) Sometimes I just set a timer on my phone and sit quietly and observe my thoughts, starting with a simple breathing exercise, repeating some mantras. Sometimes I just listen to a meditation podcast or app. Those ones help me a lot when I need someone to instruct me and help me focus better. They are also inspiring to listen to tips and ideas about different topics. When I don’t have a chance to meditate at all, I take a few conscious breaths and just set a quick intention for that day. I also believe we should not be always dependent on our meditation practice, that mindset should be natural to us after some time.
What advice would you give to a friend, who wants to start with meditations?
Just start with small steps. Even 3 min. counts as long as you are there fully with your breath. Find a place that you can always go and meditate. You don’t need fancy looking cushions or a yoga mat. Choose one comfortable place and practice with dedication. You only need your breath and you have it already naturally :-) You can find the Mindfulness in the Jungle Podcast on Spotify, Anchor, and Apple Podcasts.
Check out her lovely podcast!