I can’t meditate.
I’ve said that before. And I believed it. Because once or twice I laid in the dark room listening to Gregorian Meditation/Buddhist Monk Chants on Pandora waiting for nothingness to happen. I clearly didn’t know what I was doing. But my then-boyfriend did it, so I wanted to try it. It doesn’t work that way, at least not for everyone. Learning to meditate is like learning to play an instrument. When you first try it, you probably suck and think, “Yikes”! And then maybe, “I’m not wasting my time on this!” So I’m going to let you in on a little secret, you don’t have to sit in complete silence, or darkness, to find peace and clarity through meditation. (Eureka!)
You already know the most important thing, it’s a practice. You try and try, and quickly, not eventually, you will notice a difference in yourself. Just as you need to understand the components of an instrument before you play it, you need to understand the “elements” of meditation.
I, like many people, had anxiety which made it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. I had tried various relaxation techniques, like yoga, drinking chamomile tea, not using electronics before bed, etc. These would help me fall asleep but then I’d wake up 2-3 hours later. And I tried different medications that knocked me out so bad I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning (think: staggering-down-the-hallway groggy). So, after a year of lousy sleep, I gave meditation a REAL try.
While doing some research an advertisement for HeadSpace popped up. It was aimed at beginners and was free to try for 10 days (Win!). This app changed the meditation game for me. I had always thought that to meditate I was required to completely clear my mind of all thoughts. When you have anxiety, that’s nearly impossible. But HeadSpace taught me to count while I breathed and talked to me while I did so, that way my mind wasn’t wandering all over the place. And if it did, that was okay. With meditation, it’s OKAY for random thoughts to enter your mind. You simply allow the thought, acknowledge it and let it pass by turning your focus back to your breathing. This was meditation I could actually do.
When I completed my 10 free days, I was hooked on meditation. I was finally falling asleep when I needed to and sleeping the whole night through. So, I needed to find more sleep meditations. I heard about InsightTimer from a friend and found some recordings that were specifically for sleep. After a few months of meditation for sleep, I was really feeling a difference in, not only my sleep but also in my mood the next day.
On a work trip to NYC, a friend mentioned that she meditated in the mornings. (Gasp!) I couldn’t fathom waking up early to meditate and actually staying awake through it. But she insisted it changed her whole day and she loved it. So, when we returned from our trip I decided to give it a try. I woke up early, got myself comfortable and found a morning meditation to try. Guess what? I didn’t love it. But I didn’t fall asleep. And I continued it for 10 days straight, just as I did the sleep meditations. After a few days, I noticed another change in my mood (more positive) and that I was surprisingly more productive. (Waahoo!)
Dispelling myths about meditation
I know many people who tell me they simply can’t meditate, just like I thought, too. And most follow it up with, “But I know I should”. So let me dispel some common myths about meditation:
Myth: I don’t have time.
Truth – Listen. You’re right. You don’t HAVE time, you MAKE time. Every night, after the kids are in bed and you’re relaxing on the couch watching The Bachelorette, you can give yourself 10 minutes to find true, mindless relaxation and peace. (I know that’s why you watch that show anyways). Gift yourself some peace and clarity, you deserve that! And you only need 10 minutes.
Myth: I’m too tired.
Truth – Perfect! You are probably tired for 2 reasons: 1) You didn’t sleep well or long enough the night before, or 2) Your brain and/or body are overworked or stressed and need a break. What better way to alleviate this than meditation? (You’re thinking, “A cocktail! Duh.” Okay, besides that).
Myth: I have to sit in silence for an hour. How boring!?
Truth – Nah brah. You can actually sit and listen to someone talking or even to relaxing music. Start with apps like HeadSpace or InsightTimer. You can find some great recordings for what your needs are like confidence, prayer, energy, etc. Meditations range from 1 minute to 1 hour. You will find something that fits you perfectly.
Give meditation a try, just as you would learn to play an instrument. 10 minutes a day for 10 days straight. What have you got to lose?
Share your journey through meditation, ups and downs, with me at Gina@LeadershipIsArt.com or on Facebook and Twitter: @LeadershipIsArt or @gnobile9
If you want help with your meditation practice, call me at 717.430.2850.