Every magazine, newspaper and millions of blogs tout the benefits of meditation. Meditating regularly can reduce anxiety and stress, increase focus and motivation, enhance confidence, reduce pain, generate kindness, fight addictions, increase mindfulness and self efficacy and overall make you happier and healthier. There’s enough evidence surrounding it and I do like to test out theories and tools myself before recommending it to clients.
Some time ago I made the commitment to meditate and for the most part, have included it every day since.
I’d love to tell you that it was as easy that. I just woke up one day and boom- I was a meditator.
But the truth is it wasn’t that simple. I honestly thought meditating was too new-age-y, spiritual and woo woo for me. And I’m pretty sure my level of monkey-mind rivals the best, or perhaps the worst, of them out there.
Meditating proved hard at first. I couldn’t sit still, in fact I couldn’t sit. When I started it was back when I was experiencing persistent pain so mostly all I could do was lay down. I definitely couldn’t focus on nothing. So instead of meditating I started with breathing. Techniques like the 4-7-8 and the Box Breathing taught me how to control the breath.
Before long I fell into a great morning routine. After a big glass of water and slipping into yoga pants I would sit or lay comfortably for morning meditation. Then I’d get right into a workout before anything else got in the way. No matter how short on time I was, I MADE time for meditation– even if that meant just for 5 minutes.
Did I experience enlightenment every day I meditated? NO. But there definitely were days that I experienced real relief and deep inner peace. It wasn’t just those days that kept me coming back, it was also the long-term benefits that I experienced. When I meditate consistently I am calmer and more at peace. Sure I still get stressed out and deal with life struggles from time to time, life happens and we can’t change that. But what we can change is our approach to it.
Recently I encountered a series of those real life struggles. I knew the importance of meditating for my own self care and I made sure to keep it up … in the beginning. But soon I found myself missing a few days here and there. That quickly started the dominoes falling. One day turned into two, three and then a few weeks had passed. Before long my entire morning routine disappeared. No meditating, no breathing, no working out, no water. The only thing that got me out of bed was to get a cup of coffee, often taking it back into bed and drinking it there!
Negative self talk crept in.
Bodily pain began rearing it’s ugly head.
I seemed to loose control of my patience, becoming outwardly annoyed at the drop of a hat. My memory was foggy and I became more lethargic and more dis-interested in doing anything. I found myself watching more tv late at night and sleeping in later and later each morning. I moved my phone right next to my pillow at night so I barely had to move to hit the OFF button. Note: I had even forgone the snooze button- that just became annoyance.
My eating choices became less nutritious as I seemed to have less self control around food, especially junk food. My weight immediately crept up. Even my bowel movements became more ‘difficult’.
I expected some of that but certainly not all of it. I didn’t really expect how unmotivated I would become!
Meditation isn’t something to just DO. Meditating is a place of nurturing, away from the demands and craziness of the rest of the world. It can provide a foundation for you to address and resolve deeper struggles. At the very least, focusing on your breath can set the body into a para-sympathetic state, slowing the heart rate, relaxing muscles and allowing it much needed rest and digest.
If you can connect to the how and why meditation can help you, the REWARD, I think you’ll find it easier, even imperative, to show up for it. I know I did!
Amazing benefits don’t happen overnight, it takes time and it’s about the consistency. Stick with it, you’ll see. Let go of the idea that you are going to be great at it and just do it.
Below are a few of my favorite ways to get started. Try different methods to find what works for you for right now.
Smiling App – Great options for kids and teens!