Meet Cassidy Thedorf

September 2, 2019 in Meet the Women - No Comments

You know when you connect with somebody for the first time and you just naturally feel at ease with them? I got that sense when I was introduced to Cassidy Thedorf, a meditation teacher at Just Be Meditation in Toronto. We hear a lot about the practice of meditation these days–from “must download” apps to centers focused entirely to the practice; there’s a lot of information out there. As somebody who could probably benefit from adapting a meditation practice into my life, I know I was interested in having Cassidy break it down for us here on The Bee and showing us meditation can help us learn to let go and let in.” – Michaela

Whenever I didn’t know a word, instead of just telling me, my mother used to tell me to look it up in the dictionary so that I would get in the habit of seeking out answers for myself. Consequently, when something is new to me, I often start at square one and crack open the dictionary to just see what the word is defined as, before going into its deeper or relevant meaning. To mediate is defined as to engage in contemplation or reflection. How do you define meditation?

There are over 85,000 different types of meditation, so as you can imagine it’s a broad term. I consider the act of meditation to be intentional, practiced as the sole activity during which one chooses where to place their attention. The wings of mindfulness are said to be compassion and wisdom; meditation invites a kind awareness to the practice.

There are so many different reasons that people get started in the practice of meditation, which can really help a newbie realize the potential benefits that it holds for them or remind a seasoned practicer of why they started in the first place. How did you get started in meditation and what sort of impact has it had on your life?

I started meditation as a means of changing my relationship to anxiety. Today, I embrace the notion of non-striving – in essence, meditating just to meditate. From there, the benefits naturally arise – it’s helped me to stay in touch with my intuition, to become a better listener, to practice compassion towards myself and others, and to listen to my body. It’s also enhanced my presence and inherent capacity to notice the beauty, the fullness, of all the seemingly ‘simple’ moments.

It seems that some people are hesitant to start a meditation practice because they are worried they won’t have enough time to be consistent or that they need to do so in an environment where you can hear a pin drop. What words of advice do you have for people that might help nudge them into the practice?

I would start by saying that you don’t ‘need’ to meditate, but that you deserve to. Consider it to be a reprieve from the normal busy-ness of the day, taking care of your mind even if only for two minutes each day. Striving for perfection is a hindrance to the practice, and in fact both acceptance and letting go are attitudinal foundations of mindfulness. Noisy home? Meditate on sound, using open awareness, and simply folding any distractions into the meditation. Too busy in the mornings? Practice a body scan meditation while lying in bed at night. Miss a day of meditation? Be kind to yourself, as you start again tomorrow. 

I’ve always thought of meditation as a practice itself, to be a solitary one, but at Just Be Meditation, you offer group sessions. What does being in group meditation bring to us as an individual?

In the East, meditation is often practiced in a Sangha – a community, as its benefits are felt. Research shows that our brainwave states actually synchronize when we meditate in a group. Furthermore,  it’s powerful to connect with like-minded people, to realize that we share in our struggles. You are not alone. 

Pema Chödrön has said that, “[i]t helps to remember that our practice is not about accomplishing anything – not about winning or losing – but about ceasing to struggle and relaxing as it is. That is what we are doing when we sit down to meditate. That attitude spreads into the rest of our lives.” How can we take what meditation teaches us and apply it to our lives outside of practice? 

There are micro-moments in meditation which help to create new neural pathways, new ways of being. When the mind inevitably wanders, can you come back to the practice with kindness? You may find yourself able to be kinder to yourself in everyday life. Feel the mind drift, but you’re able to focus again on the breath? Notice that you can better focus on conversations with loved ones. Sense some pain in your foot during meditation, but find that it passes? You may connect with the impermanence of things (in other words, no need to panic – this too shall pass). Once you sit to meditate, simply be kind, be curious. It’s incredible to see what emerges.

In a world of possibilities, what would you do with your life if failure wasn’t an option? What advice would you give your younger self just starting out or yourself at a trying time in the past that you’ve since overcome?

To wrap things up on a fun note, where do you stand on…

I think it’s common to label something as a “failure” when things are simply working out differently than planned. With this in mind, I’m slowly letting go of the idea of failure. I trust that things flow in the way they’re meant to, staying more focused on the overall intention than the ‘thing’ or the ‘circumstance’ – in a way, I’m gently letting go of the plan. That said, my intention is to expand, to love, to connect, and to heal. I don’t know what that’s going to look like, and I’m okay with the ambiguity of it. 

I think that my advice to my younger self would be to have fun, let go, and not take things too seriously.

What traits do you value most in your circle of friends? What traits do you most value in yourself?

My friends are both eclectic in many ways and also incredibly paralleled in others – they are kind, funny, present, growth-oriented, and loving. I stay away from gossipers or those who speak ill of others, as it’s not the vibration I resonate with. In terms of what I hold in high value, I would say it’s LOVE, presence, and fun. I’m inviting fun into my life in a big way.

To wrap things up on a fun note, where do you stand on…

Fall or summer? Summer, baby. TV news or online news? Dinner table news. Ocean or lake? I’m happy by the lake, but there’s something about that salt water… Sweet or salty? Bring on the sweets! Solo meditation or group meditation? Both!

When she’s not keeping us mindful here at The Bee, you can find Cassidy over on Instagram at @justbemeditation. Whether you’re local to Toronto or not, the Just Be Meditation website is a great resource for medication practice.

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