With all that’s going on between work closing down, starting a new career, packing up my house to sell it and moving in with my mother my mind has been a swirling mess. Add in an unethical bully for a future President and a misogynistic Congress and I’ve been on overload since November. It’s like my mind is on a carousel that’s spinning faster and faster until it feels like it’s spinning out of control. Time to bring renewal to my soul by clearing out the clutter of my mind.
If you’re in the same boat and wondering how I’m going to help myself, then I’ll tell you – meditation. I have a history with meditation, it’s an on again/off again relationship. But this time is going to be different….it has to be. And I’m here to tell you so far, it’s been working. I feel better, less stressed and I’m able to fall asleep quicker each night. That’s a new thing. Usually, I would lay in bed and chase my thoughts around even more, which just kept me awake.
There are a lot of myths about what meditation is or is not and how it should or shouldn’t be done. One of the things that I hear from a lot of people is that they can’t meditate because they can’t empty their mind of all thoughts. I can’t either. I don’t even know if that’s possible. Meditation isn’t about having a blank mind, it’s about being able to detach from those thoughts, it’s about not reacting or interacting with them. Several times during my meditation, I might find myself thinking about to-do lists or what was on TV, but I have to let go of that thought process and bring myself back to my breath. The key is knowing that this is going to happen and probably happen a lot. So don’t get hung up about it or call yourself names because you’re getting “caught up in your thoughts.” Don’t think you’ve failed, you haven’t. You are meditating. Realizing that you’re caught up in your thoughts and still finding a way to let it go and come back to your breath is meditating. No matter how many times you have to keep doing it. Believe me, it happens to me a lot.
Another myth that people create for themselves is the myth of time. They say they don’t have time to meditate, but maybe it’s that they don’t have time to not meditate. Besides, if you’re a beginning meditator, you shouldn’t be looking for an hour of time. That’s a sure way to kill any meditation plans you had. Start with just 5 or 10 minutes. That’s all. Anyone can find 5 minutes. Then, as you get used to finding those 5 minutes and meditating, start to add a minute here or there until you’re eventually up to 15 or 20 minutes a day.
Where To Start?
If you’re wondering how to start, there’s an App for that. Really. Headspace is an app that gives you access to hundreds of hours of guided and unguided meditations. The 10-day free trial sets you up with different types of meditations to try, which allows you to figure out what works best for you. After the first 10 days, you can buy the app or try something else. The App that we like to use is called Insight Timer. It also includes a lot of guided meditations, instructions on meditating and discussion groups, it also has a timer and you can see how many other people are meditating at the same time. Pretty cool. The timer is great because you can not only set it for how long you want to meditate but you can set up the sounds that you’ll hear before, after and even during the meditation if you want them. The timer can be preset and saved, so each time I go in, I don’t have to select everything again. That certainly takes the hassle out of preparing for a meditation.
There are also many local meditation groups and retreat centers that you can reach out to in each state. My friend and fellow blogger Lori Pelikan Strobel went to one of these centers. She wrote The Gift of Mindfulness, about her experience at the Copper Beech Institute in CT where she took a mindfulness program.
Meditation can help you and it can help children too. Check out this school in Baltimore, MD where meditation is required every day. When kids act out, they are sent to a meditation room to reflect on their behavior and to talk it out. Suspensions in the school have dropped to zero. Kind of makes you wonder if the Dalai Lama was on the right track when he said, “If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
Are you meditating? If not, what’s holding you back?