I had this realization lately that I keep bringing up meditation as a solution to every problem I encounter. Talking to friends and clients alike, my recos are always including adding mediation to their routine. I was becoming an obsessed, broken record. But why?
I typically wouldn't refer to myself as a particularly grounded person. I'm one of those people who is always spinning in circles doing THE most. And like most people these days, when I do have down time, I get lost in the mindlessness of the never-ending scroll on social media.
When I was forced to take my 10-15 minute occasional meditation practice to 30 minutes daily during my yoga teacher training, it really had an impact on my life. It changed the way I process small and large interactions in my life (not to mention time management skills!). When you are planning a wedding, life can be absolutely chaotic. It is a time you should cherish, and sometimes you just want it to be over. Meditation is an amazing tool to have in your stress management toolkit to keep you #zenforthewed! In this post I'll share the benefits I've seen in myself as well as some instructions on how to get started for yourself!
Benefits I've seen
I have control freak tendencies (and I'm also surrounded control freaks- love you all!), and we live in a world where we actually have very little control. That is not to say that we are not in charge of our own fates, but we cannot live our lives in fear of what could happen. Meditation has honestly helped me to accept things that are out of my control. I know to focus on the things in my power to change and don't sweat the rest. This is maybe the number one benefit whilst wedding planning, IMO!!
It helps me to process my emotions. One of the hardest things during my meditation is to let really painful emotions come up and to not suppress them. But by just sitting with the emotions, most times I just sit there, feel them fully, and quite often they pass. If for instance I am really nervous about something I have to do, the emotion will come back, but in a more manageable way. (Side note: getting married can bring up so many emotions, its okay to not feel absolutely ecstatic every day you are engaged. Feel the emotions, sit with them, and it will help you feel great in the long run!)
There is no outright goal for meditating, and a "bad session" is just as important to sit through as a "good session". This aspect of meditation has helped me to detach from the outcomes of all my endeavors. I am not my successes or my failures, and it helps me to remind myself of that. And related to that...
I used to feel like I needed to have a reason to do something. Sometimes it is okay to do something for no particular reason. It is okay to do things just for the sake of doing. Not everything has to be an achievement. I have been working on a very difficult puzzle for 4 months. I don't have any reason why I am doing the puzzle, and that is okay. It is worthy of my time too.
When you meditate (at least in the style I was taught in), you are training your mind to come back to focus on the breath. While often that doesn't happen, if you are reliving your 4th grade trauma for the tenth time and then you remember to come back to the breath–it's still a success. That focus has extended beyond my practice and often helps me with my work! It's amazing when I can focus for any period longer than 5 minutes (YEP - my A.D.D. diagnosis is realllll).
Meditation has helped me to become less reactionary. I'm always working to curb my natural lean towards defensiveness, and I've noticed that meditation has helped me to pause before I react. My husband will say something that will trigger me (love you, honey!) and I will actually pause and think before I respond. I will try to see things from his perspective before answering. So I guess I'm saying meditation has made me a better wife?! Just to be clear, I am not a master of this, but I have made a lot of progress in this area.
It's crazy to think about how rarely I truly experience the moment I am in. Through my meditation practice, I have become more in tune with myself, and I am able to pull myself out of my technology and day dreams and actually be present in the moment. Life is so precious, I need to try to be there for it!
Lastly, I am much more comfortable just being. I can just sit by myself and I don't feel the need to distract myself. It's wild that I didn't feel that way before, but I was always using things to distract me: social media, talking on the phone, Candy Crush, etc. It's like I'm comfortable being truly alone with myself. I notice that if I take a few days off meditating, I come back to the distractions more easily too!
How to Meditate
Did I sell you on it? Are you ready to try meditating for yourself? My instructions to get started follow:
Get comfortable in a seated upright position. You can be cross legged on a mat or pillow, sitting in a chair, or just sitting on the bed propped up with your legs out.
Set a timer on your phone (you can use one of the apps below or just the normal timer). I recommend 10 minutes to start. If that seems like too much, 5 minutes is still beneficial.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. I sometimes like to focus on sounds, but that is challenging if there are none! You can keep your eyes open if you visualize too much with your eyes. I find that too distracting most of the time though.
When your mind begins to wander off, bring your concentration back to your breath. You can call yourself out and say "thinking" to help bring your thoughts back to the breath.
Don't check your phone to make sure the timer is set. It is. :)
Before you start read this:
I want to debunk the myth that meditation is peaceful or enjoyable. It can be, but it can also be downright torturous. Sometimes I would come out of my meditation sessions more frustrated than when I started. And that is okay. When you sit with yourself, all of your anxiety and embarrassing moments will come to haunt you. That will help you to return to the breath, but it will bring up lots of feelings. The key thing is to truly feel the emotions and to not push them down. This is also why I don't advocate using guided meditations. While I love Headspace (a guided meditation app), and that's how I got started meditating, I didn't really feel like I was diving deep until I was sitting in silence.
An amazing book, "How to Meditate" by Pema Chodron, is a great resource to help you get started.
Headspace - this man's voice is truly the most soothing sound in the world. Guided meditation is a great place to ease you into meditating.
Stop, Breathe, and Think - Has a great timer function as well guided functionality. I like the stickers it gives as achievements.
Insight Timer - A huge variety of meditations available on this app. In addition to it's timer, it's great if you want to explore the vast realm of guided meditation.
Are you ready to try meditating? Or is it already in your routine? Let me know what you think of this self care tool! -AHS