I used to hate meditating and now I try not to go a day without meditating . Meditation helped me to move from a place where my energy was often anxious and frantic to a place where I am mostly calm and centered and able to shift out of anxiety when it arises. In this post, I will share how meditation has helped to transform my life and five things to know about meditation if you are just starting out.
When I was first learning to meditate I did not like it at all. I am the type of person who is almost always moving, talking, or doing something and the idea of sitting still and doing nothing was not appealing at all. Since I didn’t see how meditation was helpful, I pushed back against meditating, telling my instructor that I’d rather do yoga or something that involved movement. Thankfully, I was learning to meditate as part of my clinical training so I had to stick with it. Over the three months of this training, I began to appreciate and settle in to the stillness of meditating. I was able to watch my racing thoughts and let them go without attaching to them. I was able to breathe deeply. I was able to calm and center myself.
Now, I try to make sure to meditate every morning because I know it helps to prepare me mentally and physically for the day ahead. It is in meditation and stillness where I connect to myself and what is most important to me. Most of my days are busy and outward facing as I am working with clients and managing administrative tasks. In contrast, meditation is the time when I go inward and center myself for the day ahead. It is when I exercise my agency for what I want my day to look like. It helps me to engage in my day with intention instead of from a place of reactivity.
I definitely still have challenging days and do get frustrated and reactive at times but I know from experience that meditating in the morning helps me to face the challenges of life in a much more calm and centered way than I would be able to without it. This is the reason that I recommend meditation to almost all of my clients and I’m sharing this post because I want to encourage you to incorporate meditation into your life if you haven’t already.
If you are apprehensive about meditating like I was in the beginning or have tried it before and didn’t like it, I encourage you to do an experiment: commit to meditating for 5-10 minutes 3x week for 2 weeks and just notice what it is like for you. How do you feel during meditation? How do you feel afterwards? Do you notice any differences in levels of frustration or anxiety on the days that you meditate?
There are a lot of misconceptions about meditating that keep people from trying it, which is why I wanted to share 5 things to help you tap into the transformative power of meditation if you are you’re just starting out with meditation or if you are feeling stuck or frustrated with the process.
One: There is no such thing as being “bad” at meditation. Often people meditate once or twice and then stop because they think they are bad at meditating since their mind wanders while they meditate. I have news for you: I’ve been meditating for around 9 years and my mind still wanders when I meditate. The aim of meditation is not to stop your thinking but to practice noticing your thinking and then bring your attention back to the point of focus for the meditation. So let your mind wander all it wants when you meditate and see if you can notice and let go of your thoughts during your practice.
Two: The core of meditation is being present. So often we are caught up ruminating or reminiscing about the past or fantasizing or worrying about the future and through meditation we are guiding ourselves to be in this moment now. When we focus on the present moment we often find that life is more bearable. Being in the present moment is one of the most transformative aspects of meditation because it is in the present when we feel most calm and centered, it is in the present when our creativity can emerge, and it is in the present when we can connect to the full vibrancy of life.
Three: It can be helpful to use a guided meditation when you’re just starting out. When you are just starting sitting in silence can be challenging without any guidance. Using guided meditations can help remind you to bring your attention back to your breath or the present moment. Also, there are many different types of meditation and trying out guided meditations can help you find a stile that resonates most with you . There are a number of great meditation apps and my personal favorite is Insight Timer and I have also heard great things about Liberate, Calm, and Headspace.
Four: Meditation is not intended to immediately make you feel better and calmer. Sometimes it does and that’s always great and I encourage you not to think of it as a quick fix but as an ongoing practice that will bring more more calm and peace over time. It is important to know that meditation will not help you to feel better immediately because if you use it that way, you are more likely to give up on it if it doesn’t take away all of your stress and anxiety in the moment. However, if you make an ongoing commitment to meditating regularly, you will see the benefits over time.
Five: If you already have a religious or spiritual practice, such as praying, reading scripture devotionals or spiritual texts, or listening to religious or spiritual teachings, I encourage you to connect your meditation to these practices. Taking time for stillness before or after you engage in your established practice may deepen the resonance you feel with the teachings you listen to and readings that you do. I encourage you to see what it is like to meditate 5 minutes before or after engaging in these practices.
I hope this post has inspired you to start meditating or to return to meditation if you have not done it for a while. Meditation has become a core centering practice in my life and I hope you will experience similar benefits. At its core, meditation is about being in the present moment, not thinking about the past or worrying about the future but being present with your breath and with yourself in this moment. Meditation helps us to slow down to connect to what is most important and to allow this to guide and center us as we go about our lives.