My life has been a continual series of changes lately. I recently moved to a different city, started a new job, created a new home, have been meeting new people, have run on new trails, and generally have just been lost a lot of the time. I’ve been enjoying a lot of the change but unfortunately the mindset of staying ‘present’ has been falling by the wayside in certain aspects of my life.
Last year I started a meditation practice. I didn’t (and still don’t) go to a meditation center or sit in an uncomfortable cross-legged position. I don’t take an hour or more each day to meditate and I definitely don’t get up early to do it while the sun is rising (although in BC that’s happening fairly late now so I guess I could). What I have tried to do is meditate at night for 15 minutes before bed. I even do it lying down in bed because it’s when I’m the most relaxed and afterwards I can just fall straight to sleep. Why did I start this practice? I had heard about a really great beginners app for meditation and challenged myself to try it for 30 consecutive days. Well, the old adage that routine comes from repetition worked. I actually started to look forward to meditating each night (which surprised even me)!
I had repeatedly heard about the benefits of meditation during a time in my life when I had found myself really stressed out. I was hoping that taking some time to myself in which I wasn’t ‘thinking’ I would be able to solve some of my problems and help deal with some of my anxiety. I have to admit that it was not the easiest thing to start doing even though I had dabbled in it a few years before. I can tell you that I didn’t feel anything immediately. Even after a few months of being pretty consistent I couldn’t tell you how meditation had changed me. I did know that I looked forward to doing it. It was only when others noticed change in me that I was able to recognize that changes had happened, but in different ways than I had originally expected. When I stood back and looked within myself I realized that I had become more patient, less prone to feeling stressed and anxious, and more aware of my feelings and those of others. There was no defined moment during meditation where the solution to my life’s problems had become clear, but what had happened was that I had begun to feel better able to cope with the problems that do exist as well as those that will assuredly happen to me in the future.
I also found that falling asleep became much easier. No tossing and turning being unable to shut off the thoughts that kept me awake. It became so easy just to slip into sleep. A number of my family members have also used this app and have found it very helpful to reduce stress and anxiety. I have yet to get my mom to try, stubborn as she is, but I swear it would help even her.
I have no affiliation with this app (it’s called Headspace), just a desire to tell people about the fact that there’s an easy, practical, and unintimidating way to meditate in the comfort of your own home. Being guided through meditation prevents anyone who wants to learn how to meditate, from sitting for 20 minutes in complete silence with a bunch of thoughts whizzing around in your head. You end up on a journey without feeling lost or frustrated with meditation.
I truly think that meditation is a fantastic addition to daily life. As difficult (or easy) as it might seem, it’s both easier and harder than that. But for all the time you think you’re wasting by meditating, try even 10 minutes a day and I swear you’ll enjoy benefits that far outweigh the time it takes to do. Think of it as equal in importance to getting regular exercise and eating right. It is something already proven to decrease stress, blood pressure, and reduce anxiety.
There is also an awesome website called zen habits written by Leo Babauta that I swear reduces anxiety and stress just by spending the time reading it. The website is so simple you breathe easier just looking at it. If you just have a few minutes to unwind or are struggling at work to focus, visit zen habits, take a few deep breathes and you’ll feel so much better.