Over the years I have become more and more aware of meditation, especially as it’s popularity has bloomed. Anytime I tried to “get quiet”, I felt my thoughts race, negative self-talk pounding my consciousness:
- You aren’t doing this right.
- You are wasting your time.
- There are so many other things that you SHOULD be doing right now.
- You will never benefit from this.
- You are too crazy for this to work.
- You are not centered enough for this.
- You should really workout more.
- You should not eat this.
- You are not good enough.
- You should not eat that.
- You should not be taking time out of your busy schedule to try this stupid thing.
- You are not worthy.
I think that gives you a good idea of how my brain has treated me in the past. I always loved the idea of getting grounded and centered and quieting my mind, but always assumed it just wasn’t something that would help me.
On May 20, 2016, after years of writing papers about the research on meditation, talking in trainings about how it really does help people, and hundreds of attempts at making it work for me, I downloaded Insight Timer. I figured I would try a new tool; see if this motivated me. Over the following few months, I would listen to a guided meditation or use the timer whenever the mood would strike me. Once a week turned into a few times a week, and I found that I started to really enjoy this experience. I don’t know if it was helping, but it wasn’t hurting.
On August 17, 2016, I used Insight Timer to meditate, just like any other random day when the mood would strike. Without realizing, I began my unofficial meditation challenge. I felt so good that day, that I found myself looking forward to it the next day, and the next, and the next. Before I even realized, I was on a meditation roll. If there is anything that will motivate me, it is being on a roll, especially with a healthy habit. Insight Timer knew exactly how to trigger the reward chemicals in my brain, in addition to the benefits that meditation was providing me. Posting stars on my account profile for milestones (10 consecutive days meditating, 50 days with a session, etc.) is exactly the way to get me invested.
And the media will tout its lifestyle benefits.
Once I meditated every day for over a week, then every day over a few weeks, that was it. I made the decision to be someone who meditates every single day. NO MATTER WHAT. Which is where the year of meditation comes in.
Today, August 17, 2017 is officially my one year anniversary of meditating every single day. Not only do I feel accomplished and proud of myself for making sure I took a moment to connect with my self and my breath every day, but I also can look back on this year and realize that it has made my life SO MUCH BETTER. All those racing, negative thoughts floated away. I found... the quiet. I found the peace that I was seeking.
This past year has been stressful, to say the very least. When I think about some of the big life events (taking classes while working full-time, moving across the country, shifting from traditional employee to consultant, dealing with homesickness… you get the idea.) I honestly don’t know how I would have handled it all without meditation.
The benefits meditation has brought to my life include:
- Stress relief
- Mood boosting
- Attention span focuser
- Connecting me to my inner voice (and inspiring me to dig deeper with my #yearofintuition)
- Patience builder
- Mind/idea expander
- Supporting me in getting and staying centered during turbulent times
- Opportunity to connect with my body and my feelings
- For example, if I thought I felt hungry, I would meditate. This helps me differentiate between if I am seeking food to numb; if I am in need of love; if I just want a distraction; or if, in reality, I am actually hungry.
- Helps me to learn to slow down, not make snap decisions, and to trust myself
- Reminds me that I am worthy of taking time for myself only. Every single day. No matter what.
Meditation is now a permanent fixture in my every day habits. Now, I can meditate anywhere without the need of using the app, but I have grown to really love some of the teachers on it. My favorite? Sarah Blondin of the Live Awake Project knows how to speak directly to my soul. Finding moments of inspiration and restoration in these wild times is so valuable.
Meditation is a tool we all have available to us at any time. There is no cost, no training required (although a lot of great learning opportunities are available to explore different styles).
All it takes it taking a moment for yourself.
Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath in, and a slow deep breath out. Focus on your breath, slow and steady. Acknowledge any thoughts that pop up and let them float away. Centering again on your breath. Slow deep breath in, slow deep breath out.
That is it! You have officially meditated. If you want to jazz up your practice a notch, you can add in a mantra or statement that brings you joy or peace. My favorite go to mantra is “I AM CLEARING”. It shifts everything. Breath in, I AM CLEARING. Breath out, I AM CLEARING. Make it your own, as this practice is all about you.
Meditation is a tool that cost me nothing, yet the benefits are priceless! If you are looking to untap your sparkle, I highly recommend giving it a try. Or, if you are seeking further guidance in this process, don’t hesitate to reach out! You have the power to sparkle and heal all within your being.