Wake up, brush your teeth, get dressed, maybe eat some breakfast and off to work you go. We tend to repeat this pattern day after day, without hesitation or focus on anything but the automatic motions of life.
Maybe we’ll work out one day, or go to dinner with a friend, but the pattern doesn’t change much, at least among most Americans.
Not that daily routines aren’t important, but I felt that I needed to do something to calm my mind throughout the usual routine of life. Am I going to make that deadline? Am I good enough to successfully complete this task? Can I do this?! I needed something to help ease the voice in my head…something to subside my constant worries and fears…
That’s where meditation comes in.
I used to picture meditation as something only the most experienced yogis or spiritually connected individuals were capable of doing…And that you had to meditate on a beach or in the forest…or somewhere very exotic with a sunset in view…or perhaps people wearing flowy clothing with a Buddha nearby. Look at these images that appear under “meditation” on Google images…I’m obviously not the only one!
I discovered meditation by chance and wrote briefly about it previously way back in the day…
In Tampa, I signed up for a yoga class thinking it would just be the normal Power Yoga or Vinyasa routine, enabling me to break a sweat and tone my muscles…but I was surprised when I discovered a yoga practice that actually benefitted my mind, too…Kundalini Yoga incorporates breathing techniques, stretching, meditation and chanting of mantras all in one practice.
This was my first taste of meditation and after one session, I was hooked. After the first class full of chanting (so awkward at first), deep stretching (some interesting poses) and a meditation session (it was so hard for me to keep my eyes closed and focus!), I felt relaxed, almost to the point where I felt intoxicated. It was just one class, but it had taken me to another level or relaxation I had never experienced before.
I attended the class once a week for several months, slowly but surely improving my breath and ability to focus. Sometimes I felt as though I was in regression…when I had a session where I couldn’t stop focusing on work or what I had to do that evening. But over time, I felt my “zen” factor increase in a way I didn’t think was possible. Those few months practicing regularly helped me stay…sane. I felt more relaxed when stressful situations did arise and overall felt like a more positive and optimistic person.
Could it have been an illusion? Perhaps. But I felt as though I was on the road to becoming a “better me” because, for the first time, I felt…content with myself.
Then life happened…I went on a crazy road trip, eventually moved to Nashville, started a new job, and bought a home. Without the structure of attending a class each week, mixed with the hecticness of life, sadly, meditation and Kundalini Yoga eventually faded from my routine.
Now, nearly two years later, as part of my “2017 list” (more on that here), I’m ready to get back into meditation. Ready to get back to that place of mental clarity and peace. I’ve committed to mindful meditation on a DAILY basis.
But why should you care about meditation?
- studies show that mindful meditation can help to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression
- for all the science geeks out there, when you meditate, the pituitary gland in your brain secretes endorphins that contribute to a positive mood.
- your brain is forever changed by meditation, even when you’re not actively practicing it. Studies have shown that meditation can affect the way the amygdala region responds to emotional stimuli. In one study, after people took a meditation course, they were able to respond better to visuals that would normally cause negative emotions.
- need help falling asleep or sleeping soundly? The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states meditation may be able to help.
There’s a slew of helpful resources out there for you to get started: (There was no reason for me to stop meditating or practicing yoga, I’m just the type of person that needs to be pushed or have a routine in place, or I simply won’t do it.)
- read: highly recommend 10% happier by news anchor dan harris
- learn: helpful tips for beginners from zenhabits.net
- do: download a meditation app you actually like (I prefer the Calm App)
Nowadays (let’s be real, as of January 2, 2017) I’ve been practicing daily meditation using the Calm App that gives me a daily reminder at 8:15 am that it’s time to meditate (p.s. I meditate on my carpet in my bedroom…not in a forest or on the beach…and I always begin AFTER I give my dog Peanut a treat so I can have a longer period of “alone” time).
I also have on my 2017 bucket list to explore Kundalini Rising Yoga. It’s just a start, but I already feel more at peace solidifying meditation as a habit in my daily routine.
Please note: I am not a medical professional and not trained to treat any medical illnesses. The purpose of my blog is purely informational.