Every year I choose a word, a mantra, to focus on and use as a framework to carry with me into each day.
For 2021 I chose the word healing.
It felt appropriate to me.
A long-term serious relationship that I thought was going to lead to marriage ended abruptly at the end of October.
I am turning 30 this year and would really love to heal myself from any unhealthy habits I’ve picked up over the years.
COVID-19 ravaged the entire world in 2020 and I carry with me the hope that 2021 will be the year we heal from that collective trauma and loss. I am also hopeful to see our nation heal from the divisiveness, hatred and unrest that have been present. (more here on how you can be a part of that)
A natural extension from this desire to heal kicked off as part of my New Year’s Resolutions and I picked up fun countdown habits. I completed my third Whole30, I was in the middle of completing the Beach Body Morning Meltdown 100 exercise program, and a friend turned me on to Ten Percent Happier’s 21-day Meditation challenge, and thus began my meditation journey that I am still carrying on now in March.
Below are a few of the benefits I am noticing in my daily life, and reasons you may also want to try meditation in your own life as well.
1. I am more present in each moment.
Taking ten minutes at the end of the day and doing a guided meditation leaked into my daily life pretty immediately.
I found myself being more present in the tiny, sometimes mundane moments of my day. Sitting at meals and truly experiencing the meal. Enjoying the company of my roommates and not scrolling through my phone as I bask in the presence of people I care for deeply.
On my evening walks—soaking in the air, enjoying the sun on my face or the cooling drizzle of a chilly rain or trekking out in one of the winter storms to see the changing landscape.
At work—really trying to focus on the task at hand or the meeting I am in while not multitasking and writing an email and leaving myself on mute so I can get “more” accomplished.
All of it felt different.
2. During times of emotional distress, I am able to calm myself better than I was before.
I had to have a final meeting with said ex from above that I was totally dreading. We awkwardly exchanged items and he filled me in on his life and how his family was. I looked at someone I had loved so dearly who was now a stranger. When he finally asked me how I was doing, my eyes welled with tears and I thought I was going to have a full-on breakdown.
Instead, I was able to pause, take a few deep breaths and let a few tears fall.
I squared my shoulders and said I was doing okay. And say goodbye one last time.
Had I not been practicing meditation, I know I would have become a sobbing snotty mess. I was so glad I could instead hold myself high and show my strength in a way that I was certain surprised him too.
3. I now understand there is no good or perfect meditation session.
Meditation is basically a workout for your mind. You sit in silence, focus on your breathing, and your mind always inevitably wanders.
What am I making for dinner?
Why was Jim so cold to me today and did I do something wrong?
OH! I HAVE THIS AMAZING IDEA FOR A BLOG POST ABOUT MEDITATION.
And that’s totally 100% fine. In fact, it’s the point.
Your mind wanders, you realize it has wandered, and you bring yourself back to the breath and let your mind be quiet for a while. And it wanders again, and you bring yourself back to your breath again, repeat ad nauseam for the rest of your life. And slowly over time I’ve realized I can do that, take my breaths, calm my anxiety, control my thoughts vs. letting them control me without actually even being in a meditation session.
The fun part is you get better and better each time you sit down to meditate. It’s like when you start lifting weights and you feel yourself getting stronger with every work-out, during meditation your mind gets stronger too.
4. I’ve learned about some really awesome apps, books to read, and inspirational meditation teachers to follow.
I’ve been burning my way through free trials of meditation apps so I’ve actually tried a lot of these.
I started in January with the Ten Percent Happier App led by Dan Harris.
Then I was able to get a month-long free trial of Headspace an app created by Daniel Puddicombe (there is actually a Headspace series on Netflix that is short and takes you on some guided meditations as well).
Calm is the free trial I am on currently and I am really loving Tamara Levitt’s guided meditation style and her inspiring Instagram.
I also recently had a friend turn me on to an app called Insight Timer that I haven’t had a chance to check out but she really loves.
You don’t even necessarily need an app, there were a few times I set a timer on my phone for ten minutes and guided myself or pulled something up on YouTube.
Overall, I really feel I have discovered a life-long habit that I will continue to improve and grow upon. It’s only been three months, so I am very excited to see where I am six months from now, a year from now, ten years from now with my meditation journey.
I invite and welcome you to join me.
You will not regret a single second of sitting quietly with yourself, counting your breaths, and beginning to know yourself in a way you haven’t before.