One of the most important habits I picked up on my first round of the CSD was daily meditation.
I had never tried meditation before. In the past, I had a very hard time even just staying still, much less, trying to quiet my mind and be present with my thoughts.
The last 5 minutes of yoga in Savasana (corpse pose) was always my least favorite part of class. I rarely took the time to relax, I was usually going over what I was going to make for dinner, what I needed to do after class, what my weekend plans where, etc.
When I read the section on meditation, it sounded easy enough, but I did not think it was going to be for me, however, I was still willing to give it a shot. I had recognized within myself that being present in given moments was a struggle and I knew I wanted to start working on living in the moments I was in, as opposed to thinking about future plans or past mistakes.
On the first day, I woke up extra early to give myself time to ease into it. I sat on a pillow in my reading (now doubles as meditation) corner and started off with a simple mantra. I repeated to myself: May all beings (inhale) be happy and free (exhale). I did this for about 5 minutes till my mind felt clear and quiet. Then, I begin meditating on what I was thankful for. I named each things, as to truly acknowledge it’s presence and meaning in my life. I did this for about 10 minutes.
The first few days, I kept checking the time on my phone and would come down on myself if I was not “doing it right.” I would become frustrated when other thoughts floated in my mind, this of course meant I was not “trying hard enough.”
The more I meditated, the easier it got. Time past much faster, I was surprised when the alarm I started setting on my phone rang, notifying me that 20 minutes already passed. I learned that there really is no wrong way to meditate. Some may be opposed to that statement, but for me, I found the benefit in being carving time out for myself in the day, and dealing with whatever came up in time where I had no other tasks, except to be present with my self (my spiritual, psychology, emotional and physical self).
I found that “clearing my mind” came so much easier when I was not trying to force other thoughts out. If things came up, I acknowledged their presence, I asked myself why this came up for me today and what did it mean? I may not have found the answer at that moment, but acknowledging it helped and it no longer occupied that space.
Being present with myself has been a great improvement in my life. Before, I would try to push away unpleasant feelings. I would try to stifle anxiety, anger, sadness, confusion, grief and worry. Those feelings cannot be eliminated by being ignored, I found that they always made their way out in another manner (usually a maladaptive one). Meditation has helped me be present even with undesirable feelings. Sometimes, I feel grief and I need to feel it, I need to acknowledge it’s presence and sit with it for awhile, even though it can be difficult.
Even though it is only 15-30 minutes out of my day, I feel the effects for hours. It helps me go into the day with much better focus and clarity. I get the sense that I have already taken care of myself for the day, and now I am better equipped to meet challenges that may arise, without my own personal baggage holding me back. It already puts me at peace and helps me ease into my morning, instead of rushing out of bed and in to my morning routine.
I have found many helpful Guided Meditation practices on iTunes podcast and searching for “Guided Meditation” in YouTube. There was some very relaxing ones on YouTube to do before bed, I tried them a few times and would recommend them to anyone who has problems falling asleep. That is rarely an issue for me, and I much prefer to do my meditating in the morning, so I choose some of the Morning Meditations instead.
In the video below, Deepak Chopra gives a great overview on how to meditate. Sharon Gannon wrote the excerpt in Crazy Sexy Diet on meditation, I also read another of her books that was informative and helpful. I am very new to this journey, but already feel the benefits. If anyone has other suggested resources (books, podcasts, etc.) I would be thankful for the recommendation!