So I know I just wrote this whole post about not forcing yourself into a one-size-fits-all routine (see Creating Routine That Works For You ), but I should mention one part of my day that I have just started to implement and really enjoy- meditating. I know, I know, it’s a very intimidating idea to sit in silence for any extended period of time when we could be doing so many other things that need to get done, but hear me out. When you begin your day, do you start out slowly, taking in the new sunlight pouring through your windows and getting a moment to peacefully begin? Or do you hop out of bed, rush through all your morning rituals, only to run out the door or hop on a zoom call at the very last minute?
I for one, typically begin my day as the latter. I have never been a morning person, but, morning person or not, it’s never enjoyable to wake up and instantly feel like you’re already behind for the day. It makes me full of anxiety in the very minute of waking, and I am sure that anyone who does the same can relate to that feeling. So why do we keep doing it? Why not give ourselves at least 5 minutes in the morning to begin our day on a more positive, intentional note? So we can spend the rest of the day more centered and grounded in our purpose.
This is why I have started to implement meditation into my morning routine. I’ve been working on waking up earlier, which includes going to bed earlier (a HUGE challenge for me), but I am SO much happier when I wake up early and have time to spend my morning how I want to. I know meditation can sound pretty boring or intimidating because what most of us think of as meditating is sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat or pillow, with our hands facing upwards on our knees, our shoulders squared and chin tucked, counting our breaths, not having any thoughts whatsoever, and a bright light emanating from the top of our skull to the heavens when we are doing it right. Right? Just me? Regardless of what you think of when meditation comes to mind, if it’s negative, I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be.
What really got me into this idea of simplifying meditation was Dan Harris’ book, 10% Happier. If you haven’t read/listened to it, and are skeptical but curious about meditation, then I’d highly recommend taking a look. I listened to it on Audible during a long car ride, and was fascinated the whole way through. Dan Harris is an excellent story teller, and his is an amazing one to hear. He is actually someone who you probably would never think of as a “meditator,” but he describes his journey to meditation as a way to relieve anxieties, and how he found a way that works for him. So, the key here is to find a way that works for you, too! Here’s some tips that have worked for me so far.
- Get out of your head. I mean, that’s really the whole point of meditating in the first place, to become aware of your thoughts, right? To see the inner workings of your mind, that constant chatter that we sometimes can mistake as our reality, for what they really are: thoughts. And we are not our thoughts. Reality is not our thoughts. Our thoughts are an endless free-write session of our subconscious feelings and insecurities. So, when preparing to meditate, try to remember that the reason you are wanting to meditate, is the very same reason you might feel deterred to do so. Your mind will go to great lengths to keep you from shutting it up.
- Sit wherever and however you are comfortable. You do not need to roll out a yoga mat, light candles and play spiritual music. You can literally sit on the side of your bed, in your car, or in your chair at your desk. Wherever you are comfortable is where you will be most successful.
- Remember that while meditating, it’s okay to have thoughts. I think many of us become discouraged and give up on meditation the moment we have a single thought during the experience. Your mind is literally made to think, so it is perfectly and completely normal to have thoughts while you’re meditating. This is the whole point and a great opportunity to work your mind! Being able to have a thought, and be aware that you are thinking. That is success in meditation. I’ve heard it described as watching cars drive by, or being behind a waterfall and watching the water come down. The cars, or the water, or whatever other metaphor you’d like to come up with- those are your thoughts. And in meditation you are watching them. You are aware of them. This helps you remember that you are not your thoughts, they do not define your reality, and that you can disconnect from them at any time you want- you just have to have the awareness to do so.
- You do not have to meditate forever! I know some will say they meditate 30 minutes or an hour a day, and that’s great for them, but to me (and to I’m assuming anyone else who’s a beginner), that sounds like I’d just be setting myself up for failure. So, instead, start small and work your way up. I started with 5 minutes and am up to 10 now. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to 30, but hey, never say never!
Meditating is like a workout for your mind. Unfortunately, our society is so focused on working out the physical, we forget how important it is to be mentally strong as well. While being physically healthy is incredibly important, being mentally healthy, I’d argue, is almost more-so. If you don’t feel beautiful and happy with yourself on the inside, you’ll never feel that on the outside- no matter how perfect of a specimen you may be. And yes, the two can go hand in hand- working out does give many people a form of meditation- but if you’re feeling strong on the outside, but not so much on the inside, then maybe it’s time to take a look at other methods for that.
Meditating has the ability to ground you and center you into who you really are. It connects you to a higher place within- a place that reminds you that most of the bullshit we worry about really doesn’t matter. It’s funny really, because we already know ourselves and what’s truly important in life, but we get caught up in all the commotion. We lose ourselves to all of these outside pressures and forget that we are perfect, just as we are, and that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.
When I take even 5 minutes in the morning for this practice, I spend the rest of the day feeling happier, more inspired, and more at peace with myself and the world around me. There is so much constant chatter coming from inside our heads, as well as a million other external avenues, on a daily basis. This can cause anxiety and depression and discourage us from becoming our best selves and working toward the life we want. We must find ways to invest in ourselves and center ourselves so that we are more readily able to handle all of this chatter, otherwise we will find ourselves on a never-ending wheel of feeling tired, anxious, helpless, and never be able to stop. Meditation is an incredible way for you to step off the wheel. You can remove yourself from all the noise, if only you allow yourself the opportunity. I know it sounds like a lot, but if you consider the steps I listed above, I think you’ll find, as I did, that it can be one of the greatest assets to a happy and purposeful life.
What has your experience been with meditation? Any tips you have to share? Would love to hear your stories!