I Think I Need to Be Heavily Meditated
Okay, I'm going to lay it all out on the table…
If you know me well, you know that I am a high-strung kind of person. I am SO much calmer with yoga in my life, but I can still be dramatic. I’m not sure if I was born that way, or if I was a product of a dysfunctional household. Or maybe this is the way life is for a great many people in the modern world? I'm not sure. I like to be going, doing, seeing. I obsess about things. I get caught in cycles of negative thinking. I catch myself living in the past or worrying about the future. I judge my body, my actions, my choices. I compare myself to others. I search for happiness in food and possessions and alcohol. Sometimes I feel unhappy for no reason. Sometimes I feel really happy and then feel guilty about it. At times, I am consumed by my thoughts. (Yeah, you are getting stressed just by reading this, right?)
So here I am, someone who puts out there a persona of being strong, fit, and centered. Physically I have it mastered. I can play the part of yoga instructor extraordinaire, but my mind is in need of some exercise. And this is why I put myself up to the meditation challenge last month. I want to feel equally strong in my mind as I do in my body. It looks like I am just now scratching the surface...
For the entire month of March I devoted at least 5 minutes a day to quiet, seated meditation. As a personal trainer, I knew that creating a daily habit would be easier to stick to as opposed to something weekly. I also knew that 5 minutes was probably the only amount of time I could comfortably commit to (Although the 5 minutes surprisingly felt too short after the first week.. I added more time with each week). I learned a lot over the course of the month.
Here is a recap on what I took away from the experience…
I learned to relax.
I was surprised to find out that I didn't know what real relaxation was anymore. I had to relearn it. You might be surprised to hear that drinking a glass of wine on the couch while watching HBO and simultaneously scrolling through your phone is not actually relaxing! Crazy, right? To relearn, I started giving myself more time before my meditation to do a complete and thorough body scan. From head to toe I consciously let go of tension. I allowed my eyes to stay closed. I turned down the lights and put my phone out of reach. It was amazing. I could really feel a difference in my body when I gave myself proper time to unwind. It felt like I had just had a full body massage! My limbs felt tingly and I felt physically lighter after. I swear I am not exaggerating. It made me realize that between working, mothering, texting, social media, studying, etc… I was never giving my body a chance to experience true relaxation, so when I finally did let go I felt the power and importance of it.
Tip: Don't skip the relaxation before you meditate! Do a proper body scan and take your time. Use your breath to consciously relax each and every muscle.
I learned to come home to the present moment.
While meditating, you practice coming back to reality over and over again. It is a great skill to fine tune. Now in my everyday life, I am better able to notice when my mind is wandering. I can quickly come back to the present moment and allow my thoughts to float away. I recognize when they are becoming all consuming, so I am less likely to get emotionally involved and ruminate. My interactions with my kids and husband have really benefited from this. Being present keeps me connected to them in a genuine way, not the half-assed way you do when your mind is somewhere else. You know the moment when your kids have been talking at you for like 3 whole minutes, and you just have to respond "Oh yeah, honey." because you have not been listening AT ALL? Yeah. There is less of that now. Moments I spend playing on the living floor with the girls or chatting on the couch with the hubby make life more enjoyable. I'm glad I can find my way home just a little easier now.
Tip: While meditating or in daily life, being present is easy if you use your breath as a tool. It is always there. It’s always accessible. If you find yourself slipping into another place or getting caught up in your thoughts just bring it back to the inhale and exhale.
I learned that I create my own reality.
This is something I teach in my classes all the time, but to truly LIVE it? That is a challenge. When you meditate, you can begin to see your thoughts as "just thoughts." Not reality. In fact, I began to realize that many of my thoughts were not even true. They were judgements on myself. My body. My hair. My choices. My past. My future. When you realize that 90% of the babble in your brain is not grounded in reality, you can begin to let. that. shit. go. It is very liberating. I had to start asking myself. “What reality are you living in?!” I don’t want to spend my life living in my head, especially if what is going on in there is false. I do want to live in the real world and experience the beauty in front of me. Real life. Am I really missing magical moments like my daughters laughing together or a sunset or a home cooked meal because I was too worried about my butt looking fat? Come home to NOW. It takes practice, but it is worth it!
Tip: When you find yourself caught up in your thoughts ask yourself: Is this true? Is this kind? Is this necessary? This is what the Buddhists call right speech, and your self-talk should be just as right as what you say to others.
So, in a nutshell that’s those are my major findings from the last four weeks. This work is never done though! That’s kind of the beauty of it. You never quite arrive. It’s all about the journey. Will I keep my daily meditation going? Yes. I cannot think of one reason why not.
Want to give it a try, but don't know where to start? Contact me. I can help!