Let me just say this — if you can meditate, like, actually meditate in its truest form, I commend you with my whole being. Because it is NOT EASY. I’ve been on this journey of trying to perfect this for years, especially because I love the benefits of meditation. Every therapist I saw would encourage this habit — I’ve even done guided meditation with them (it did work one time, but that’s for another post entirely). Any podcast I listen to says it’s the ultimate route to finding peace and happiness, and every book I’ve read centered around self care encourages me to give it another go. To use an app like Calm, to sit still with my thoughts — to quiet my mind.
But I freaking can’t.
Do you want to know the weird and, at times, frustrating part? I’m finally a calm person. People have actually used this word to describe me. (that’s the biggest compliment) My mind doesn’t race (without reason) anymore. I don’t overbook myself, I don’t partake in things that don’t feel good, and I’m generally in line with my vibrations. So what gives? Why on Mother’s Green Earth can I not sit cross-legged with my thoughts, uninterrupted? And that’s when it dawned on me.
Because meditation doesn’t look the same for every body.
It really is that simple.
What is meditation?
1 the action or practice of meditating.
3 contemplation, thought, thinking, musing, pondering, consideration, reflection, deliberation, rumination, brooding, reverie, brown study, concentration;
4 a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject.
The action or practice of meditating — a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject. Contemplation, thought, pondering, consideration, reflection..
Where in the definition does it imply that these things can only be accessed by sitting cross-legged on a pillow on the floor, in utter silence? It doesn’t, girlfriend. It doesn’t. So like everything else in my life — if it isn’t working for me, I change it. I add my own spin, I test it out, and then I happily share it with all of you when it works.
My biggest take away from my struggles with meditation has been centered around mindfulness. Because really for me, this is the ultimate goal —the practice of mindfulness is what I care about most. I want to focus on being in a state of mind that helps to control my nervous system on a daily basis. I want to continue to work on being in the present moment as much as possible. Or be able to stay centered and controlled with any and all thoughts and emotions that may visit me during my day to day. I want to pay attention and take care of my state of mind, and give real value and attention to my every day life.
What is mindfulness?
1 the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2 a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
That, for me, is what meditation is all about. Channeling the body’s sensations, calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, being aware — both with our surroundings but more importantly, within ourselves.
Here are some mindfulness tips to get you started
Literally, slow down. Don’t move so quickly, and focus on finishing out every single move your body makes. I LOVE this practice and do it just about all day every day. Walk slower, talk slower, chop your veggies slower, pet your dog slower, shampoo your hair slower — be in the moment with your movements. This right here is a surefire way to transform your life. I’m living proof.
Prioritize in 3’s
There’s this subject on prioritizing in one of my favorite books that had me nodding my head and laughing a little bit. It was regarding the fact that priority is a singular word. It in no way, shape or form was intended to become plural. We gave it that power. A priority is intended to be number one; the most important thing. But these days, that number is limitless. We could have 5 priorities that day, maybe even 10. While I completely agree, I’ve found that 3 is my sweet spot. That’s an attainable number for me to feel accomplished, without feeling overwhelmed.
Something I’m working on every day, especially when something excites me. I tend to interrupt out of love and passion, not disrespect, but this is a habit I loathe. It’s getting better every day, as I’m trying to give more space to a story. I try to implement pause, and pay attention to body language to feel out when it’s an appropriate time to shift the focus, rather than diving right in without consideration.
Now I don’t mean be late to your commitments. No, no. I hate being late. What I mean here is when someone invites you to do something, take a beat. You are absolutely not required to commit to something on the spot, basically ever. This is one of the biggest practices I’ve had in this journey — giving myself permission to think on things, rather than trying to people-please by saying “yes” too quickly. You know what’s worse than that? Having to back peddle when you realized you’ve just overcommitted yourself.
No really, please stop. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but you’re not good at it. Nobody is. Even if you feel like you’ve accomplished so much due to the act of multitasking, I guarantee you, you could be doing so much better if you focused on one thing at a time and gave it real, all consuming purpose. The other bonus? Your computer will run a lot smoother (and quicker) due to the lack of tabs open on your computer.
Now I don’t mean this in the cliche “breathe in, breathe out” type scenario, but actually giving reason to your breath is one of the best and easiest ways to stay mindful throughout your day. I mean, it’s something we’re doing constantly — all the time. We don’t stop (at least I hope not) — so if you need to focus on something to avoid losing your shit, breathing is the way to go. Bonus points if you can get some fresh air into your lungs.
There are SO many other ways to implement mindfulness practices into our lives — I could literally go on forever. But I won’t. I will say that, for me, simply choosing to add certain practices to my daily rhythm has completely transformed my life over the past year and a half.
Below are some of the mediation alternatives I’ve created for myself, since we’ve determined that sitting on the floor crossed-legged just isn’t for me.
Meditation Alternatives for Mindfulness
A Hot Bubble Bath
This was the rhythm that actually changed my life. It might sound strange, but taking time for a hot bubble bath with lavender scents (either oils or bubble bath), lighting a candle and having my morning coffee or evening tea (err— vino) is the ultimate way for me to center myself, stay in tune with my daily affirmations, and to channel the calming energy I work hard to carry throughout my every day. If you have access to a bath tub, even if you aren’t a bath person, I encourage you to give this a try.
Sidenote: the upstairs bathroom that can host a tub is currently being remodeled, so it hasn’t been installed yet. For now, I’m ensuring that I make time to use the hot tub at the gym, followed by a 15 minute sauna session to get in some heat therapy. I also add lavender oil to the shower floor and make the water extra hot.
You’ve all heard me talk about journaling so many times before — and that’s because I believe in it with my entire being. Free journaling is SO therapeutic, and allows you to get any and all thoughts on paper, sans judgement. I’ve mentioned to you all before that if you’re scared of what you wrote, or you worry that someone will find it, rip out the pages and throw them away upon completion. There’s no need to carry that with you — by writing it down, you’ve put it out into the universe, and you’ve spoken your truth. In the words of my favorite mantra: let that shit go.
Also, I have a deep love for The 5 Minute Journal. This is a fool proof way to get the benefits of meditation each morning, as well as when you’re winding down for bed.
This will look different for everyone, but for me, centering activities are pilates on the reformer machines, going for a walk outside and getting fresh air (without my phone), and creating with my camera.
When I’m on the pilates machine, it’s all about slow and steady. You’ll literally hurt yourself if you go too quickly, so you have to stay focused and centered on each and every move you’re asking of your body. I love this practice — it forces me to hone in on what I’m doing in that exact moment, and being told to slow down by your instructor? That’s just music to my ears.
Getting fresh air and going for a walk without any agenda is one of my favorite things to do. Taking some time to realize how big the world is and how small my problems are is super humbling — and though it may sound cheesy, you’d be surprised at how energized it will make you feel. (Sidenote: don’t bring your phone. It throws off the entire dynamic)
Using and creating with my camera puts me in this euphoric zone that I can’t really describe. Aside from writing, it’s how I express myself, so there’s this untouchable freedom that comes with that.
Who knew that music without words would be so soothing? My friend Moti introduced me to a playlist on Spotify called This is Tycho, and it’s my favorite right now. There are a few words here and there, but nothing distracting. It’s the best music to get through my daily priorities. I also try to listen to classical music in the morning, first thing, and jazz music at night while cooking dinner. Words can cause clutter in our brains when we’re trying to stay centered, so choosing tunes that allow you to focus on the vibrations and the notes are key.
You guys know how much I love detoxing from my phone. True story: I got a new phone a little while ago and never set up my voicemail. IT WAS SO FREEING to not have clutter in my inbox. Two months later, I finally caved and set it up again. But there’s something about being just even a little bit off the grid that is intoxicating to me. Since it’s a fact that we need our phones these days, try giving yourself a detox every single day for a short period of time — even if it’s just 20 minutes. Maybe that’s in the morning while you’re having breakfast, at night while you’re cooking dinner (my preference), or one day during the week (that’s Sunday for me) You’ll be shocked at how grounded and at peace you feel when your focus is purely on what’s right in front of you.
It’s like that saying goes (that I love so much): “one size doesn’t fit all”. The practice of meditation doesn’t have to look the same for every one. What I realized, is when people ask me if I mediate, I’ve always said “no” — because I have this vision of that’s supposed to look like; what society has designed it to be. When in reality I should be answering with: “yeah, I meditate all day every day.”
Because I do.
And you can, too.