Chances are you’ve heard of meditation. It’s all the rage these days and for good reason. It’s been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve your ability to focus, and ultimately lead to greater levels of happiness.
Prior to this last year, I had heard all sorts of good things about meditation but I was not convinced. You want ME to sit and be QUIET and NOT THINK? Are you crazy?!? My mind looks like this….
Not only did I not think it was possible for me to sit quietly and not think, I was nervous to try it. What if I just sat there and my mind raced with all of my to-dos? Plus, I would need to sit there and not get any of those to-do’s done. This was plain crazy talk. Meditation felt too out there for me.
I had survived, no THRIVED by my racing. I was pretty sure that this was part of my competitive edge. It felt an awful lot like how I feel when I’m *in flow* (more on this later). But during that time, my mind was racing me in circles ALL THE TIME and I had many, many days of mental fatigue. I was over-worked, over-tired, and running on what little steam I had. I was running mostly on my good attitude but that was stretching thin, too. The reality that something needed to change was starting to set in.
You don’t know me but those who do can vouch that I am an extremely energetic and bubbly person. If I have one off day, that’s fine. We’re all human. But several? Now, that’s a pattern. It’s a pattern that doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t feel like me. Up until a year ago, I thought that this was the inevitable side effect of being an achiever. With so many things on my list, this was just a tradeoff I would have to accept. In my mind, in order to reduce the racing I would need to remove things from my list. But alas, this is not true! A year ago, I learned a way through the chaos and now I’m hooked! The answer: meditation.
The 1st time
I had come home from a particularly long day and I was zonked. I was so zonked that I was doing things like walking into furniture, dropping things, mixing my words up. I was completely exhausted and I had a horrible migraine. I was trying to fulfill the duties of many roles and there was zero time for things that would feed my soul.
My hubby suggested that I listen to a guided meditation that he had given to me for Valentine’s day. Skeptical, but willing to try anything at that point, I went to our bedroom, closed the door, laid down, and plugged in my headphones. I took some deep breaths, followed along and became incredibly relaxed. Coming out of the meditation, I was so relaxed I fell into a deep sleep. I slept an hour and when I woke up it was like I was a new person. I was overjoyed with the results.
So then what? Did I ride off into the sunset with my new found method for peace? No. I blissfully went about my life and inevitably wound up back in the same position. Completely exhausted. Completely drained. Only then, did I recall that guided meditation. I tried it again. It didn’t have the same euphoric results. It was disappointing. It felt like that first time was a fluke.
Shortly after, I learned that Arianna Huffington had made a 21 day meditation based off of her book, “On Becoming Fearless.” It was a free program which was offered for a limited time. I had the privilege to hear Arianna speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women in 2012 and I thought she was pretty amazing. I decided to give it a shot again. As I wanted to make the most of the program, I needed to listen and meditate every day. I had never attempted this before and I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out for me.
I completed the program. (Of course I did. Gold star junkie over here.) Every day was different though. Some days I felt energized and ready to take on the day. Other days I felt extremely calm and connected to myself. And yet, there were other days where I struggled to focus, to breathe, and to relax. This was a journey and it led to a longer journey that I never imagined for myself.
From the time I embarked on that 21 day program, I decided to incorporate meditation into my life on a more regular basis. When life got crazy and I would attempt to rationalize that I could go without it, my husband would remind me of an old zen proverb that states, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy then you should sit for an hour.” Sometimes that would frustrate me or annoy me. Now I just laugh because that proverb is completely right. Slowing down, connecting with myself, relaxing, all of these things help me more in the long run and more in the PRESENT than the racing ever did.
Making it a Habit
I meditate most days now. Although I would like to do so every day, I’m not perfect (and I’m learning to accept that). Similar to my experience with the Arianna Huffington meditation program, every day is different. Sometimes I am able to immediately and deeply relax. I come out of meditation as if I’m floating through the air. Other times I feel like a minute lasts a lifetime. Regardless of the fact that the experience is inconsistent, I keep at it.
I have experienced a sense of peace, calm, and centeredness that I can’t recall ever experiencing. I have historically been a pretty high-strung, uptight person. Meditation is helping me relax and let go. I have more faith that things will evolve exactly how they are supposed to versus a compulsion to control the world around me. I feel present. Something I can’t say I often felt in the past. Most importantly though, I feel more like me than I have in a long time and it feels awesome!
I have been consistently meditating for the last year. When I miss a day, I feel off. In the beginning of this journey, I felt self-conscious telling people that I meditated. I didn’t want to be considered a “weirdo” or “new age-y.” The more I meditated though, the more I loved it. I tell people that I meditate all of the time now. With a busy schedule, I don’t confine myself to specific locations to meditate. All that is important to me is that I meditate. In addition to meditating at home, I meditate on trains, planes and automobiles. I have even been known to commandeer conference rooms to meditate. It makes such a difference for me that I have completely rearranged my morning schedule to ensure I get my meditation in. If something comes up to harpoon my morning, I will move heaven and earth to ensure that I get my meditation time!
Clearly from my story above, I highly recommend meditation. I was skeptical at first but it works! For those of you who are skeptical or are on the fence, I would recommend starting small. Find a quiet space, and try a guided meditation for 5-10 minutes. You can find plenty of them on YouTube! I also subscribe to the Mentors Channel on Facebook. A few times a year they offer free 21 day meditation programs which are led by various people such as Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, or Oprah. If you have a hard time getting into guided meditations, do yourself a favor and find 10 minutes of quiet time. Put on some classical music and just breathe.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
Wishing you luck on your journey!
Seize the Carp!
Check out the Mentors Channel here: http://store.mentorschannel.com/
Check out Arianna Huffington’s book here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/on-becoming-fearless-arianna-huffington/1100164016