Just a few years ago, I recall thinking who has time to meditate? How do you even silence your mind to meditate? I have too much going on for that. I thought it was legitimately impossible for me to do. Yet, when I had severe anxiety and clinical depression and knew I had to find another way so that I wouldn’t be on medication for the rest of my life. I gave meditation a try because everyone raved about it, so I was desperate to give anything a try.
I didn’t sit down that first day and meditate for twenty minutes thinking “oh, how easy was that!” It was challenging. I had a ton of thoughts flooding in and out. I wasn’t sure how to stop them, but I just kept listening to the meditation. I can’t remember now what my first meditation was too – more than likely a YouTube video guided meditation for anxiety or positive thinking. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I was just sitting in the middle of my living room on the floor. My mind wouldn’t stop and I thought that I obviously was doing it wrong.
I kept going though. I kept sitting down day after day and some days I’d sit for only three or four minutes and other days I would make it an entire ten minutes. The sitting there listening to the meditation part wasn’t hard.
The hard part is your mental state.
I thought you had to completely shut your mind off. I couldn’t fathom not having any thoughts at all. It seemed like something I would never reach. As I researched meditation and different kinds of meditation and apps, and so on I realized something. I realized that meditation isn’t about turning your mind off, it’s more about allowing your thoughts to flow freely and then accepting them for what they are and then letting them pass. Meditation wasn’t about the process of turning off your mind, it was the process of tuning into your mind.
Those are two very different things.
For quite a while last summer (summer of 2016) I was using the app Headspace, which I think helped me with this process a lot. The creator of Headspace, Andy, guides his listeners to acknowledge your thoughts and note them. He calls this the noting technique where you note a thought as feeling or thought and then let it pass by. Andy also uses breathing techniques such as counting your breaths and you practice the act of being mindful – something everyone should be working on.
The Headspace app taught me a lot in the first year or so that I was meditating seriously. It also counts how many days you’ve meditated in a row and for me that helped me build my confidence that this is something I could attainably do. I don’t use the app daily anymore, but still do go to it from time to time. It is a great building block and can really help new meditators learn the process of what meditation is about. Plus, they have a ton of great packs such as anxiety, relationships, sports, unguided, and so on. (This blog is not sponsored of affiliated with Headspace at all. I am recommending this on my own use and basis.)
Since last summer, my meditation practice has grown so much. I obviously use crystals, something I have been doing since starting, but use them even more now in each practice. I have different guided ones I love on YouTube for abundance and a kundalini one. I also do kundalini yoga with the Elevate the Globe girls’ guidance and in that practice there is a key meditation part that comes along with chanting. Something I never thought I would be doing or ok with doing!
I realized how beneficial meditation was quickly. It hit me fast and hard when I started seeing the results from it. I wake up at
least thirty minutes early every day in order to get my meditation and journaling in daily – meditating in the morning is best for me because my mind is in a more still and serene place. I’ve heard somewhere that meditating for at least twenty minutes a day equals another four hours of sleep. How amazing is that! We can’t sleep our day away with everything we have going on in our lives, so why not take the time to work up to that twenty minutes and reap that amazing benefit.
Meditation can also help with many other aspects of your life such as reducing stress and anxiety, improving concentration and memory, slowing the aging process, increasing creativity, showing more kindness and compassion, having more self-awareness, and overall being happier. All of these benefits only improve your life and quality of life, so why not take that time to help yourself to these things. I never realized how transformational meditation was or could be until I started.
Now instead of taking Xanex when I’m feeling panicked, I’ll instead sit down for a meditation. If I’m somewhere where I can’t just sit and relax, I’ll at least close my eyes for a few moments and take deep breaths to help clear the anxious feelings. While this may not be a full meditation, my body and mind know what I’m trying to accomplish so my mind and heartrate will know what it going on and to not react into a full panic attack.
If you’re interested in diving into meditation, I will leave a few of my favorite YouTube based meditations below and I’m currently working on my own collective of meditations for the Meditation Station tab listed on the drop down menu under the shop! I currently have one up, but more recordings are currently happening that will be purely audio instead of video as the one up currently is.
If you don’t currently have a practice, take three to five minutes today and just sit. Allow your mind to drift to whatever it feels, but just acknowledge everything that comes in and then let it go. You can even mentally say to yourself “I see that thought/feeling and I acknowledge you, but right now I do not need to worry/act upon this.” It’ll help you release the thought, so that you don’t start worrying about the next thing, but instead stay in the moment.
Be Present. Be Mindful. Be Kind.