Ohmmmm…I’m not the best at letting goooo [said in my chanting voice].
Honestly, I am the epitome of a worrywart. I’d like to blame it on genetics, but let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a grown woman who needs to own the things that I still haven’t worked on changing. That’s why this challenge is a great way for me to learn release and balance.
It’s exactly the push I need to help me over my worry-hump!
I’m not completely unfamiliar with how meditation works, and since starting yoga I’ve tried to meditate a little here and there. I’ve noticed sometimes just being on the mat, breathing, doing something good for my body—it can be like meditating.
However, I haven’t found my way to meditate.
I’ve always thought mediation is about finding a way to calm the mind of all the outside noise while also quieting the inside noise that isn’t positive and productive. I was once told that the mind has two inner voices. One voice is a lion and the other is a lamb. The lion growls loudly with your fears, anxiety, and negativity. And the lamb is that small, quiet voice—your instincts, guidance, and positivity. It’s always going to be easier to hear that lion roar than to shut it out and listen for the lamb.
However, that’s exactly what we—I—need.
More importantly, I want to teach this to my daughter.
The desire I have to learn to meditate goes beyond the blanket statement of becoming more balanced.
The real reason I want meditation to be part of my life has always been about truth.
I believe that looking inward and spending time with yourself is the best way to find your truth—whether it’s the truth that reveals your life’s purpose, or more simply, the truth that allows you to figure out what new hobby you should take up.
Quietness and stillness have a way of making your mind weed out the nonsense to get to the root.
In our society, when something tragic happens, especially when it impacts the masses, what do we do?
We have a moment of silence.
A few precious seconds when we are unified in our stillness to embrace what has happened to us, around us. This allows us a chance to reflect, to process, and to pray. Everything stands still and you can allow what has happened to wash over you. Then when the silence stops (maybe your eyes pop back open), you unknowingly give yourself permission to move forward, just a little.
It’s like taking a deep breath.
It can be quite beautiful if you think about it.
My first-born daughter passed away almost 13 years ago, at six months old. At the time, I just wanted the world to stop. To be quiet—for her and for my breaking heart.
Thinking about it all now helps me understand better why we go to a place of quiet and silence when something is too difficult to digest mentally and physically. That quiet reminds us of our instincts to breathe, to keep breathing. The simple in and out. And once we get to the point where we don’t have remind ourselves to breathe, that's when we're able to focus on what’s truly important.
What comes after that breath?
Whatever it is, it should bring you peace and allow you to be vulnerable and open.
As I bring this back to the challenge, I originally thought I was just going to sit down in a quiet, dark room and make myself be still and try to empty my stress.
However, when I’ve tried that before, it’s taken me more than ten minutes and it usually doesn't work unless I'm already in a pretty tranquil mindset.
So I started thinking, if I have a hard time clearing my mind, maybe I should try to reach a singular focus and see where that takes me...
That's when I came up with the idea of using a word or phrase to focus on during my meditation. Instead of being completely silent and trying to blank out, I am going to repeat the word or phrase several times while sitting with my eyes closed, or even while walking throughout my day. I can do it out loud or internally, whatever feels good for me at the time.
A few months ago, I saw a documentary called On Meditation, which included interviews with people from all walks of life. Those interviewed talked about their personal practices and experiences with meditating. One of those people was Gabrielle Bernstein. She has written books and has released two decks of beautiful cards that are inspirational and uplifting for daily, positive mindfulness and/or meditation.
One of the decks was made in conjunction with her most recent book called The Universe Has Your Back. I knew it would be an awesome resource for what I wanted to do, so I quickly ordered the (inexpensive!) deck from Amazon. This made me even more excited to start on my journey!
It was still difficult to quiet that lion roaring about how I needed to get a million other things done—and the guilt that comes with that. However, as the days went on, I started to feel more like I needed meditation in order to deal with the daily stresses that came my way. It was empowering to be more in charge of what I was letting my mind center on.
I was choosing my thoughts rather than watching them constantly fly at me.
To provide an analogy, it’s like when I give my toddler two choices for lunch; she feels empowered making her choice, and she's not overwhelmed with a million different selections. However, if I were to open the fridge and simply say, “What do you want?,” we’d never get anywhere!
All those options would stare her in the face and make her want to pick a little of everything, which isn’t helpful or satisfying!
This is how meditation makes me feel—as though I'm focusing on one positive thing and letting go of all of the extraneous.
Does that make sense? Or, did I just throw out a mom-ism? ;)
Bottom line: find your way to meditate. Maybe start somewhere where you feel safe and at peace.
Is it soaking in a bath? Is it in nature—sitting on a hilltop or a park bench? Maybe it’s lying in your comfy, warm bed all nestled into your pillows and blankets, listening to rain on a white noise app.
It could even be in a meditation class with others!
Over these ten days, I learned that focusing on words and/or phrases was very helpful for me. Having something positive to devote my mind to allowed me to feel calmer. And I even managed to fit some meditation in on those days when I couldn't find alone time. I just pulled out a random card or sifted through the deck until something jumped out at me and felt relevant to my day.
I am so happy that this challenge came to me and made me realize how much I needed meditation to become a regular practice in my life. I hope to find a way to somehow share this with my family and use it throughout our entire home.
For now, I’m still working on me.
That’s my truth.