Meditation is a buzzword of late, and even the most scientific types are singing its praises. The importance of positive thinking, time spent calm, and how important space and breath can be to our brains, bodies, and achieving goals cannot be undersold. However, what no one tells you about meditation, is that if you approach it in the way you’ll find illustrated on Pintrest, you may come out feeling like an enormous failure.
Meditation seems to come with a long list of said and unsaid rules. Don’t think. Do breath, but don’t think about breathing. Allow your thoughts to “pass through” and don’t engage. Don’t fall asleep. Do grow, don’t think about growing. On and on.
I began meditating about a year ago, and picked it up and put it down as many times as I can count. I never felt successful. If someone had told me that meditation is only about me, the relief would have been palpable.
Meditation is Only About You.
Yes, you can meditate to achieve huge goals that will help countless people. But, meditation is only about you. Therefore, it’s only about what will work for you. I want to share a few tips that have helped me, enormously, in creating a healthier and less judgmental meditation practice.
- Try being Meditative. Don’t meditate. The idea of sitting down, with your phone timer going, and doing something you’ve never done, can be overwhelming. Start by being meditative. As a Mama, we never know when a moment, or ten, will be available. But when they come, we have a choice. Make one time a day meditative. The baby is in the carrier, happy, napping, and you can choose your phone or book, or a meditative moment. Choose a moment. Maybe sit, maybe stand, maybe dance, but breath and close your eyes, and let your brain be whatever it is. Mine are often with a coffee cup in hand, near natural light. Just breathing in and out, in and out, no fear that I’m not doing it “right”, just standing and being still a moment. Knowing that my next moment might be one I use to read an email, text a friend, or make a snack, but this one – mine, for my mind.
- Meditating on a mantra whenever my brain is loud (this is a tactic I learned and LOVE from You Are a Badass) . Choosing a mantra that you can repeat in your head, again and again, will help you calm down. It might not give you those “ah! YES!” in the zone feelings, but it will give you calm, and a brain and body that is tuned into your goal. My two go-to mantras are “Yes, please.” and “The universe is for me, and so is everything else.” both are a little strange to see typed out, and make me feel a bit self-conscious. But when I am sitting in my calm, rocking those words back and forth in my brain, I feel successful and capable. So no embarrassment needed. Maybe your mantra is “I can. I will.” or “I am enough.” or “I’m strong and ready.” Or “come at me! I got this!” who knows what will work for you. Only you know, because, meditation is only about you. I highly suggest trying a few out, and sticking with each one for a full five minutes before deciding if it’s junk or not.
- Drop the judgement. I felt like, initially, if I didn’t do my meditation first thing in the morning (when everyone advises) then it wouldn’t work. I self sabotaged my practice just like you can sabotage a healthy meal plan or exercise habit. By allowing perfect to be the enemy of good enough. I have a good enough diet. A good enough workout habit. And a good enough meditation routine. What does that mean? I fit it in where I can. Sometimes that means that I am meditating like a boss while repeating my mantra on volume 35 as Octonauts plays on in the background. Some days it is a perfect sunrise 8 minutes in a quiet room. Other times it’s while I am laying in bed thinking “WTF am I doing with my life?” I fit it in where I can, because it isn’t about perfect, it’s about me.
- Let it be selfish. I struggle here. I don’t do selfish all that well. I am seeing, slow and steady, the benefits of making time for myself and taking it when I need it. I am slowly realizing that you really, truly, honestly, cannot pour from an empty cup. So know your things. Meditation is one of my things. I’ve made it my thing. I love that it’s quick. I can ask for what I need (like I just talked about in my most recent post about marriage) and it’s short, important, and packs a punch. Telling my husband, “I need 8 minutes. Just take over for 8 minutes.” is far more feasible in my day to day than “I need three hours on a trail. now.” so even when I feel that, I can’t just do that (I can plan that though!) but 8 minutes I can ask for.
- Have a hack. So, you’ve taken your few minutes, you know your mantra, and it *still* isn’t working for you. Break the rules, and know your hack. I’ve had weeks where I just can’t mediate. For whatever reason, internal or external factors, it isn’t working. My hack: Sun Salutations. I’ve talked about it before here, but they center and calm me, get me on track, and wake my body up. They’re doable, easy to modify, and you can make it a full blown yoga workout by doing 20, or you can just wake up some new part of your brain and hamstrings by doing five. Your hack could be mediating through dishes, challenge yourself to think your mantra while you allow the soap to rinse. Yours could be just plugging your ears and standing taller in a hot hot shower. Allow your meditation to be “wrong”. Let it help you fall asleep, let it be in the middle of the day, let it be a mantra you sing song while you stack blocks with your endlessly needing you two year old. Let Meditation Be For You. Because meditation is only about you.