So January is flying by. I’m still wrestling with pneumonia. It’s zapping my energy. But I’m also trying to stay healthy. Physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. One of the things I’ve been working on is making meditation a daily habit.
As with most things, I became interested in meditation because of a recent Toastmasters meeting. The theme was meditation and as the Table Topics Master, I needed to create questions around the topic for extemporaneous speaking opportunities.
So I did some research. Jerry Seinfeld has been doing transcendental meditation (TM, umm is it just a coincidence that it’s the same initials as Toastmasters? Most likely.) for over 40 years. The Beatles were also practitioners of yoga. As are David Beckham, Jennifer Anniston and Jessica Biel. Here’s a list of other celebs that have found benefits in practicing yoga.
With some very successful people promoting meditation, it seems like it should be a more widely accepted practice. And yet it’s not. It is gaining in popularity but it’s not as mainstream as it could be. And yet, maybe that is a good thing. Maybe if it was popular it would be more of a fad. Something we do because we want to be “in” not something we do to reap the benefits.
So what is meditation? Good question. I’m glad you asked. You’ve probably heard more than one person refer to veggin’ out as meditation. The meaning can get kind of convoluted. I like this definition from Yoga International: “Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.”
Here’s a little history about meditation. One line from this I like is, “Researchers speculate that primitive hunter-gatherer societies may have discovered meditation and its altered states of consciousness while staring at the flames of their fires.” And the reason is this, when Carter and I are sitting around a bonfire we get totally mesmerized staring at that fire. Obviously, I think there’s more to meditation than staring at a fire. But I definitely get mesmerized around a bonfire.
I’ve tried meditation in the past. But I always fell asleep. I should note that I’ve only ever tried it with an app on my phone. I and I was lying down. I was surprised that others in my Toastmasters group have also fallen asleep while meditating.
This time around, I haven’t fallen asleep meditating so far this year. I took they’re advice and do it first thing in the morning. Also, I meditate on a good 12-15 hours of sleep just to be safe.
I’m a meditation newbie. In fact, today was only Day 9 of my meditation journey. Right now I’m using HeadSpace for a guided meditation experience.
Meditation can reduce stress. I believe that stress is as bad for you as almost anything. So any chance I can get to reduce it in my life, I’ll take it. Stress has so many negative effects on our lives. We live in a world where we try to cram more in; more hours at work, more hours with the family, more hours at the gym,
To me, when I’m stressed I feel like I need to be busy. I have this need to want to be doing something all the time. So the thought of meditation and slowing down can initially make me stressed. I have too much to do! I don’t have time to not do anything.
Meditation can improve concentration. I could certainly stand to improve my concentration. For someone who didn’t grow up with a cellphone, I sure do let it steal a large part of my attention and focus. Sometimes it feels like a pinball game in my head. Writing jokes, public speaking, blog posts, get the dog to the dog park, grocery shop, make dinner, and on and on. Bing, bing, bing the ball ping around my head. And my focus flits from one idea to another.
So if there is a daily practice that will help me increase my ability to concentrate, I will try it. I have so many things that I want to do that it can be hard to focus on one thing to actually get it done.
Meditation increases creativity. I’ll be honest, one of the reason I’m interested in meditation is to enhance my creative abilities. I don’t do drugs. It’s not my thing. Well, I don’t know that to be true since I’ve never tried them. So I guess not trying drugs is more my thing. Since I don’t do drugs, I need to find another way to keep my creative edge. Meditation is my answer to pot and mushrooms. Plus I’m pretty sure it’s way cheaper.
Meditation is good for improving self-esteem. Meditation is about getting to know yourself on a deeper level. Well beyond how your hair looks or what outfits you can rock.
Obstacles to mediation. As I see it, the hardest part about meditation is actually making time for meditation. I always think I’m so busy. I have so much going on. Blah blah blah. We all do. But we make time for the thinks we prioritize.
I look back to when I was in graduate school and wonder how I had time for that. I was working full-time, working part-time, and coaching soccer. But if you want it bad enough, you find a way. If not, it doesn’t take priority in your life right now. That’s not to say that it won’t in the future.
The other obstacle for me is that I don’t like feeling like I “have to” do something. Because then I’m just going through the motions. I’m not doing it because I see the benefit in it, I’m doing it because it’s something I think I should be doing.
But with meditation, I don’t feel like I should be doing it. I can fully see the benefits of meditation. It seems like I have to do a little work on the front end to make it habit in my daily life. But once I do, it will come more naturally. Then it won’t feel forced. It will feel natural. Once I make daily meditation a habit it, not doing it will seem weird and uncomfortable. Until them, I’m setting a daily reminder. I’ll keep chipping away at making it something my day isn’t complete without.
I realize that I’m very new to meditation. And I’ve only been doing it from an app on my phone so I have a lot to learn. I do want to try a guided meditation at a studio. I’ve found one I hope to check out in the near future. I’m excited about having meditation in my life. I look forward to a long, beautiful relationship together.
What’s your experience with yoga?