My 7-year-old niece came to visit me this week. Being a mom of a teenager, there’s a lot of things I had forgotten about when dealing with smaller children. For example, a meal can take 45 minutes to eat. Getting out the door is a much MUCH longer process. Keeping them on task requires a lot of redirection. They are incredibly chatty and will talk and talk and talk. Mostly, I had forgotten the insane amount of PATIENCE it requires.
Let’s be honest, I was not blessed in the patience department. I had very little patience with my son when he was younger and while it’s gotten better as I’ve aged, it’s definitely something I have to be very mindful of on a daily basis. I’m an action-oriented person and like to see immediate results. I’ve never been the mother that counts to 3 or repeats herself constantly to get him to do something. Being an aunt however, is different. I only see her a few times a year and want to have fun with her.
In my quest to not lose my shit every day and become a better person; I started meditating about a year and a half ago. I wish I could tell you that I have this wonderful spot to meditate in, that I religiously meditate every morning to set the tone for the day, and that I am completely in tune with myself. Unfortunately, that’s only partially correct. Just like changing any behavior, it takes time and requires keeping it front of mind. Even this far into my practice, I’m still growing and learning with every session.
I actually love meditating. Meditating in the morning, gives my day has a renewed sense of purpose and focus. I’m not a morning person so often times waking up early to meditate doesn’t work out, but I do find a lot of peace meditating before bed. Meditating at night provides a calmness that allows me sleep better. Some people however find that meditation wakes them up, so this evening meditation may not work for everyone.
I meditate on my living room or bedroom floor, depending on the time of day. This summer I have been meditating in my hammock and have found it to be an incredible experience. Not only am I getting in touch with myself but there is something about meditating in nature that makes the experience that much more special. I have found it especially rewarding to focus on nature in my meditation. The rustle of the leaves, chirping of the birds, the gentle breeze on my cheek is calming and sets a great background for meditation.
If you are considering meditation or are new to practicing, here’s a few tips I have found to be helpful in my practice:
Be flexible – there may be days it may seem almost impossible to focus your energy in meditation. Your kids may come in unexpectedly, your phone may ring, your dog may try to give you kisses as you meditate, you may be completely exhausted. Try to find a time in your day that most distractions can be eliminated, but don’t get upset with yourself if you planned to meditate for 20 minutes and can only get through 10 – it’s ok!
Start small – it may sound easy to sit in silence for several minutes, but it can actually be very difficult. The American culture is fast-paced, loud and constantly on the go. Multitasking is seems to be an expectation, rather than an exception. When your mind is used to racing all day; telling it to suddenly be quiet confuses it. When I started I was only at 2 minutes and it seemed like an eternity. I would find myself peeking my eye open to check my timer because it had seemed way longer than 2 minutes (I was probably only 45 seconds in!)
The idea that you are focusing your concentration on your breathing or listening to a is easier said than done. Ideas start popping in your head, your grocery list starts to be created, frustrations with relationships may start to surface, you may find you get emotional, and while all that’s going on; you have to redirect your thoughts to a single focus. Don’t consider these thoughts failing in meditation, instead appreciate them and then redirect yourself back to your breathing. Your mind WILL fight you at first!
Use an app – I recommend using an app, such as Insights Timer, or Headspace, to help you get started. I personally use the Insights Timer and love it because it’s easy to use, has guided meditations, discussion groups, local meet-ups, and it’s free! It logs when you meditate and will tell you how many days it’s been since you meditated as well as share other stats. The guided meditations in the app really helped me focus and learn how to channel my thoughts. There are several different types of guided meditations, such as recover, inner peace, music, breathing, and spoken guides. They offer different lengths of meditation to allow you to find one that fits your current stage in meditation. I recommend checking out the reviews to see if one of the guided meditations may be a good match for you.
Incorporate it into your current lifestyle – My most favorite aspect of meditating is that you can literally do it anywhere! Rough day at the office..take a few minutes to meditate at your desk, in a quiet nook. A lot of offices now offer meditation rooms, take advantage of this benefit! Sitting in the car waiting to pick up your kids from practice – meditate instead of scrolling through Facebook. Incorporate it into your workout routine. If you practice yoga, use this time to meditate as they work hand in hand together.
Get comfortable – find a position that you are comfortable in. I found it really difficult to sit cross-legged with my hand resting on my knees. My legs fall asleep, I fidget constantly because I don’t normally sit cross-legged, and so I am just uncomfortable. Depending on the day, I may sit cross-legged, I might lay on my back with my legs against a wall (great at night,) or I may just sit straight up in a comfortable chair with my feet planted on the ground. Do whatever works for you. You set the tone for your practice! I have found I am more successful in my meditation when I am comfortable and listen to my body rather than following a strict idea of what traditional methods my meditation needs to follow, however, I do try to use the traditional methods more often than not.
Don’t jump up! – At the end of your meditation, it’s easy to want to jump up and get going again. If your eyes are closed, open them slowly. I recommend taking a few minutes to reflect. What went well? What did you struggle with? Did you like the guided meditation? I will often jot these thoughts down in a notebook. It helps me watch for patterns in my practice. I may find that meditating at 6 am brings better productivity in my day vs 5 am. Maybe I find that certain days of the week are easier to master my mind than others. Keeping a few short notes, not only helps hold me accountable, but keeps me in tune with my progress.
Without meditation, my mind would be a mess and my patience lost more than it is. Meditation has helped my “evolution” process in more than one way and keeps me on track to be a better mother, aunt, wife, and person. If you haven’t given meditation a shot, I strongly recommend giving it a try.