Mediation... You Do You!
I feel like every time I turn around, someone is telling me to meditate. Having problems with work? Meditate on it. Want to change your energy? Meditate. Need more sleep? Take ten minutes a day and mediate. Stressed? Find time in your morning routine to meditate. Anyone else feel this way? Or is it just me?
Mediation has proven usefulness in stress relief, pain reduction, improving overall focus, connecting with others, and reducing underlying inflammatory responses that many of us walk around with because of our diet, lack of exercise, and constant hustle that we do day to day. It gives your mind a vacation from its every day to-do list and lets you center, reconnecting your mind to your body. Even while we sleep our minds are constantly working through sights, sounds, tastes, smells, feelings that we encounter during the day and have no idea it even crossed our paths. You work through emotional health while you are sleeping as well, which is why your dreams can be a good indicator of how you truly feel about a certain situation.
So, like everything, we need to let our minds rest. We need to give them a little vacation in order to think clearer and get all the other benefits that I have listed above. But how do to it? Do I need to go out and buy an overpriced pouf to sit on and hum “ommmmmm” until my mind is completely clear? That is one way to do it, but there are plenty of other options as well. This past month, I set the intention to meditate more by exploring different types of meditation, and this is what I experienced.
I tried four different types of meditation throughout the month in order to find time and space to sllllloooooowwwww down. I often joke with my mom that I am like a hummingbird, if i stop moving my heart will also stop (LOL) but its something I need. So in order to feel productive and meditate, I first tried Kait Hurley’s Move and Meditate program— which I absolutely adore and will continue to use. It is 15-30 minutes of high intensity or restorative exercise classes, which not only get your heart pumping but also Kait does an incredible job of cueing times that we would often be hard on ourselves to show some self love. And her classes make you work. OMG!! My buns were sore for days post her booty workout! After you sweat then you meditate through guided meditations. She does many different types of meditations, like belly breathing (where you lay your hands on your belly and focus on how the breath moves your stomach up and down) loving-kindness meditations, where you repeat a mantra to yourself throughout the 10 minutes as well full body scan; which lets you check in with each physical part of your body, sending love and light to it. I liked that I was able to get a workout in and then give my body and brain a break from everything. I was super antsy at first, but slowly found ways to fall into the meditation.
I tried to meditate while focusing on one word over and over again, this is probably one of the hardest ways for me to meditate because my brain literally goes everywhere…. its like the social media rabbit hole. I would start repeating the word over and over, then my brain would wander to something the word reminded me of and then to something else and before I knew it, I had to remind myself to come back and not think anything. It happened over and over again. I know that this is the form of meditation that can transform your awareness and send you to a different plane, but I also know this take tons of time to perfect and utilize, many times with a guru or yoga teacher. It will be something I return to later in my life, but I can tell as of now my energy is not in the right place to give into this space for now.
I tried the app, mindspace, which is a guided meditation. I really liked this one as well, but actually fell asleep through a lot of them… oops. I am going to keep it on my phone and keep using it. One thing it did help me to realize, is that I need to find more rest/wake balance and give myself permission to hit the hay earlier.
Ok besides Kait Hurley’s Move and Meditate, perhaps my favorite thing I tried this month, was to sit and practice origami. Origami is the art of paper folding that originated in Japan. I chose to do this as a meditative practice because I could use it as the practice of letting go of self-judgement and/or perfectionism. I know this may be hard to believe, but I am a bit of a perfectionist. I know, I know… admitting this is the first step to knowing I actually have a problem. But its true, at times I am literally my own worst critic. When I ran, every run was torture because I would constantly compare myself to others, wondering why I wasn’t faster or able to get the milage. With social media and this blog even, I am constantly striving to be more & help more— how can I reach more people to bring awareness into their lives? How can I be more available? At work, its how can I see the warning signs of a disasterous situation quicker? How can I be more on top of the latest evidence based practice for my patients? If I am being perfectly honest, this striving to be more and to do it perfectly can be exhausting. Which is why I wanted to try to find an activity that I could complete, without it being perfect. Origami is the perfect meditative task for this.
It allowed me to zero in on the activity, do something with my hands, and complete something. And although my paper cranes may look more like a swan after a night of bing drinking, it was so fun to do this. It also reminded me of when Chris and I first started dating in Alaska, when we had absolutely no money (thanks Americorps), it was dark & cold, and we needed to do something to pass the time. He taught me how to make a paper crane for the first time. So it was extra fun to get to do this activity together again and laugh at the outcomes.
I can definitely see the importance of meditation. It gives you a chance to unplug and check in with yourself, while giving your mind some much needed rest. There are types of meditation that work better for me than others and there are types of meditation that I know with practice and dedication, I could grow into. I challenge you to find a way to meditate. It can be any of the ways I listed above or something completely different, but try it out for a week to a month in order to see the full effects it can have on your life and wellness. I think you will like the outcome that it can give.