I f I had to reduce my personal “coping with anything” toolbox down to a handful of tools, I’d have to include clearing physical clutter, a gratitude practice, clearing my head by writing things down, and meditation.
So now for some brutal honesty, my dear: in the last year, I’ve fallen far away from any regular meditation practice. Like you, my lizard brain and inner critic regularly attempt to persuade me that any kind of change is scary. I got “too busy” to do things like exercise, regularly eat lunch or meditate.
I mean, honestly, darling, “who has that kind of time?” my Inner Critic boldly inquires. My heart, however, knew that it was one of my minds little white lies to keep me from evolving into the next phase of who I am supposed to be.
After falling down the Rabbit Hole, I dove into some nourishing reading. One of the books on my list was Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth and I came across this quote:
Meditation is a tool to shake yourself awake. A way to discover what you love. A practice to return yourself to our body when the mind medleys threaten to usurp your sanity.”
Oh, baby: the full out truth in that statement hit my inner critic right between the eyes. It was clearly time to pull this tool out of my box and polish it!
You see, when I regularly practice meditation, my stressful days are fewer, my jeans are looser, and my attitude is more positive. And when it comes to loving the day-to-day living, meditation helps me fall in love with my life over and over again.
Many of my clients have told me their minds are just too crazy busy to sit and meditate, but darling, let me tell you, meditation doesn’t have to be sitting in the lotus position chanting Ommm. Here are some of the excuses your Inner Critic may say to convince you that you are cut out for mediation.
- Mediation just won’t work for me.
- It’s all about mystical woo woo stuff.
- I’m Christian and meditation is for heathens.
- I’m too busy.
- I can’t empty my mind.
The truth is: when you first try to meditate, all those assumptions may feel valid. But give it two weeks and these lies can be left in the past.
So, here’s the deal, kitten: I’m going to challenge you to begin (or restart) a mediation practice along with me. Meditation doesn’t only work if you do perfect yoga poses and breathe into a single sound. It can be done in other ways – with stillness, visualization, and active. Just lean into a little courage, tell your inner critic we are simply performing an experiment, and give some of these nifty meditative tricks a try to discover what clicks for you.
If you Want to Lose all the Woo and Connect with God
I personally find a special energy in churches. When I travel, one of my favorite activities is to explore historic churches. Now, I’m not suggesting that you join a convent or need to begin attending a religious service on a regular basis. I am suggesting that you visit a beautiful church. I’m not talking about the attendance of a religious service, but physically placing yourself in a church before or after a service. You don’t have to be Catholic to visit a beautiful Cathedral. Allow the sacred space and energy feed you. Kneel in prayer and allow your thoughts to flow to God.
If you come up against a wall and need some words to guide you, how about “Thank you for all my blessings.”
When Sitting Still Sounds like Torture, Try some Active Meditation
These are for those times when you feel as if you’re going to literally jump out of your skin. I’ve discovered that moving my body allows my mind to clear. With active meditation, it’s all about choosing an activity that allows you to move rhythmically without struggle.
Go for a walk or run. The rhythmic actions of your feet moving will allow your thoughts to flow out. Though I prefer a heavy beat when I go for a run, when I’m needing to really clear my head, I leave the iPod at home and allow the pure sounds of birds, wind, and my feet hitting the pavement to soothe the savage beast.
When I’m feeling a need to be inspired, I often retreat to the kitchen. A couple of years ago I discovered that a sharp knife and the comforting smells of onions, garlic, and peppers could provide me with a cocoon of meditation. Slice crisp and juicy apples for a pie. There is a kind of magic in the repetitive motion of chopping and slicing, and the soothing scents of the fresh food. If I mention that I’m having a “sauce” day, it often means I’m needing some active meditation. I wind up with a clearer head, open heart, and delicious food!
If you Really Desire Stillness, Attempt Sitting
Light a candle in a darkened room and focus on the flame. Breathe in. Breathe Out.
Sit on the floor or in a chair and be physically still. Slowly breathe in and out and focus on your breathing. As thoughts come, allow them to float by you. Some thoughts will be brought to the surface by your Lizard Brain. Some thoughts will be brought to the surface by your Inner Critic. Thoughts are not who you are.
If you Can Create Pictures in Your mind, Try Visualization
Each of your thoughts is a bee and their hive is in the center of your stomach, right behind your belly button. As a thought surfaces, remind yourself it’s just a bee, gently grab its wings and place it back in the hive. Continue to repeat this process. Some thoughts are persistent and continue to escape the hive, don’t handle these so long that they will sting you, simply continue to be gentle with yourself as each little bee gets placed back in the hive
You are a rock placed in the middle of a fast moving stream. Your thoughts are the stream. Simply allow them to flow around you.
Imagine your thoughts being written down as the scrawl of stock quotes on a financial news show. You don’t attach to any of the thoughts, you just allow them to go across the screen. You may find comfort in identifying the thoughts with a single feeling – like fear, pain, worry, etc. Allow them to flow by without attaching any meaning to them.
Now, Let’s Talk about Timing, My Dear
One of the most helpful pieces of advice I got was from a Buddhist Nun in a meditation class who told me to grow my meditation practice by using a timer and beginning with three minutes a day. Grab a timer and set it for three minutes. I have faith that you can do anything for three minutes! And as you begin to fine tune the technique (or techniques) that work for you, you gradually add a little time. It is a practice of learning a new skill. It isn’t perfect. It takes time to build some stamina.
Darling, meditation is a fabulous tool for anyone who wants to fall head over heels in love with their life. And as you can see, there are lots of approaches to make it work for you. So, are you with me, babe? Are you ready to create a meditation practice? What ways sounds like something you’d like to try?