When I listen to my grandmother talk about her thirties I would be remiss if I said it was just a simpler time. Yes, many aspects of her era were simpler. They did not have digital overload, or overbearing communication or the perceptions of ridiculous expectations (coming at them 24 hours a day.) However, let’s not forget, these are the kids who survived and lived through the depression, World War II, the threat of communism, abstinence education from their government, oppression, sexism, a president being shot, inequality and those are just what come top of mind.
When I ask my grandmother how she was strong enough to survive it, her reply is simple, “we didn’t know any better, we just did what we had to do to find the happy.”
How many times have you been at: dinner, an event, a kids game, out with friends, at a movie…and your phone lights up with the perceived notion of “This is important!” You immediately feel the pit in your stomach, the guilt of not taking care of it right away, so you interrupt what you’re doing to care care of it.
Respectfully, you’re putting someone else’s needs in front of your own. Is that thing, the one making you feel guilty, really more important than your kids recital? Your 8 year old who gets to say three lines, that I might add, he is so proud of, but you miss because of…….
The wake-up call
Don’t get me wrong, I’m at fault for this too. In my world there seems to always be an “emergency.” Are they a real emergency? Nope. But I attack each and every one like a kick ass martyr, take care of business and feel like I’ve accomplished something. But it’s a false perception. I think my biggest wake-up call was when I was 32 years old. I was suffering from health issues, adult acne, stress overload, TMJ (from clenching my jaw), broken teeth (from clenching my jaw) and I struggled to stand up straight because my lower back (stress) was so tight.
At any moment did it occur to me to change my direction? Of course not. I wore this nonsense like a badge of honor. I was absorbed in the rat race and living the American dream. Was I happy, SURE! But was I really happy? no.
The practice. The no bullsh*t guide to meditation
I had what Oprah calls an “a-ha” moment. A friend had gone on and on about yoga. You know, that thing the celebrities are all hip to doing right now. So I tried it. Holy wow. Within a week my back pain was completely gone and I couldn’t believe how great it felt to just STRETCH. Have you heard of it? Who knew this stretching thing could be so life changing! haha
The gals at yoga told me I was high strung and needed to chill out. Guess I was stomping on their cool vibe. So they recommended meditation. ( for a video on how to create a meditation space, click here. It’s an old video I did four years ago and you’ll be totally confused because it displays my old company name. Just ignore that and focus on the info. And fun fact about the video. My air conditioning had broke that day. The house was 122 degrees and I was trying to FOCUS on doing a video rather than focus on the fact that my makeup was literally running down my face and my sweater was giving me heat stroke!) *OK, back to the regularly scheduled program*
It took me two weeks to just sit still because my mind was always racing. But after five years of practicing this is what I have learned:
- Try to meditate in the same spot every day. This prepares your mind to slow down
- Where comfortable clothes, otherwise all you’ll think about is, “good lord these pants are tight. Why did I wear such tight pants? these are really uncomfortable…..”
- Sit in a chair or on the floor, it doesn’t matter! Just be comfortable
- Your practice will change every day, so go into without expectation
- Acknowledge the thoughts you have for that day, thank them, and let them go
- The best way to “let it go”….you have the next 23 and half hours to dwell on it, so now isn’t a good time
- Relax your whole frame by becoming aware of each body part and how it feels
- Things will distract you: Outside noises, cars, construction, the amount of time you’ve been sitting there….let it go
- If you worry about the time, set a timer so you are free to be free
- Your eyes can be open or shut, the goal is just to FOCUS on chilling out without expectation and focusing on breathing
- If the idea of sitting for 15-30 minutes just isn’t do-able, and totally freaks you out, go for a walk and enjoy the wind, birds, and scenery
- Don’t go into it with any expectation. Make it your own, and do what works for you. It’s about giving you time for you, period
Benefits, what’s in it for me?!
- Everything around you will begin to slow down
- Increased focus
- When your body starts to tense, you’ll recognize it immediately
- Absolute calm, that sense of urgency goes away and you can methodically work through a task with ease
- Better sleep
- Less stress
- Clarity and stronger intuition / insight
- Perspective. Things around you that matter most, rise to the top
- Everything around you becomes better because you notice it
- The things that don’t resonate with your new state fall away
When I talk to grandma about meditation she thinks this modern world is filled with a bunch of hippies, but she says, be thankful for the advances because in her day we didn’t have the gift of Botox! Well said grandma! So have you tried it? If not, why not? A year from now you’ll wish you had started today!
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