The school year's ended and I became immediately and fully summerfied (summerfied is totally a legitimate word): swimming, kayaking and boating on Cayuga lake, sleeping, waking, and eating when I want, fun with friends, and sun sun sun. So why did I wake yesterday morning with a growing feeling of restlessness and discomfort?
I stopped my meditation practice.
I've been meditating for long enough now to recognize it's benefits, and to also recognize what happens when I don't practice. I'm not a meditation expert. I've been meditating regularly, once in the morning and once before bed, for almost a year. But, I think (I hope), that reading about a novice meditator's experiences may motivate you to give it a try or make it more accessible.
So, why meditate?
Studies are great, but I don't need a study to tell me why I should meditate. Observing to my own body, mind, and emotions are more than enough. (And yeah, if you google meditation benefits, you'll likely find these listed somewhere, just probably without the swear words.)
Here's my top 5 reasons why I meditate.
1. Feeling Grounded (Aka Chilling the F out) Meditation makes me feel grounded. When I meditate regularly, I feel most like myself, can navigate the world from a place of being authentically me, and be generally calm, cool, and collected. I have a tendency to be scattered and go into freak-out mode. This may surprise people who know me now, but it's true! Changing my diet certainly helped flip this, and meditation took it a big leap farther. I actually just did an amazing meditation this morning from The Grounded Mind that teaches you how to ground yourself. So good!
2. Mental Clarity - Meditation helps me get clear about what I need to do, and keep my focus to follow through. Between teaching, health coaching clients, GROWing my business (see what I did there? GROW ;) and balancing yoga/fitness, family, friends, music, and fun, I have a lot going on. Don't we all? Meditation helps me stop from spinning, get clear about next steps, and sustain the focus to follow through. (Thank god!)
3. Emotional Clarity - It's often during meditation that I sort through and sometimes even just recognize what I'm feeling and processing on an emotional level. That thing I thought I moved past? Nope, still there. Spontaneous crying during meditation? It happens sometimes. It means that sh*t needed to come out. Wondering why that thing that person said/did/didn't do, bothered me so much? Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn calls this practice "looking deeply." When you meditate and look deeply within yourself, you can look at all the stuff that's swirling somewhere inside (Pema Chodron's book, "When Things Fall Apart" is also a good resources for this) and illuminate it in order to release it, break old patterns, and do it better next time. Yeah, big, important stuff.
4. Willingness to Let Go (and release the death-grip on control and worry) - I didn't really realize it until I started meditating regularly, but I'm kind of a control freak. I'm pretty easy going with a lot of things, but with the big things - like what I think should happen with my life, and when - I tend to (try to, because it doesn't work out) control big-time. And worry, worry, worry. It's ongoing work, but meditation is helping me break this pattern big-time. (SO much more chill.)
5. Connection and Flow- this relates to #4. Once you let go, you can accept that you are being given what you need, when you need it. Whether you call it the universe, the cosmos, God, nature, it doesn't matter - but meditation helps you feel connected to something bigger than yourself; and when you trust that you are being supported by this something bigger, you can get in the flow and let things unfold. I've noticed that when I'm in this place of connection and flow is when the good things happen!
There's my top 5 list. If you want some tools to get you started, or take your practice farther, check out my friend David's Grounded Mind program. It's fun, and he makes it easy (because meditation shouldn't be another thing to give you anxiety)! As always, talk to me in the comments! What would you add to the list? What are your experiences with meditation?
Grow Happy, Grow Healthy