About a year ago, I started meditating.
The combination of a less than stellar inner dialogue and influx of unproductive thoughts were cluttering my mind. Those thoughts were my tenants, and my mind became their rent stabilized apartment. There was no way they were moving out willingly. It was up to me to either kick the clutter to the curb, or make peace with the arrangement. I decided that meditation could accomplish both.
As I sat down on my mat with my ring fingers attached to my thumbs, I felt like that song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn’t belong.” The coach in me started questioning my own fears and limiting beliefs. It was time for some major self-love. “Of course you are good enough, of course you belong.” Then, as I glanced over my right shoulder, I could see that everyone else seemed to be in this Zen-like state.”
Seriously? Am I the only one thinking about buying blueberries and Greek yogurt at Trader Joe’s right now?”
The truth is meditation takes practice. Even though it’s been almost a year, I still have difficulty clearing my mind. During a Singing Bowl meditation, I was slightly jolted off my yoga mat.” Why didn’t anyone else seem phased by the vibrating and clanging against metal bowls?” Apparently, I have quite the active heart space.
The difference is that now I view my thoughts as a slide show instead of an epic movie. I try to observe my thoughts when I inhale, and let them go as I exhale. I admit that I may freeze a pleasant frame or two along the way.
I continue waiting patiently to see those lavender and white lights that other “spiritual seekers” rave about. Unfortunately, there is no GPS to locate my center.
So, why do I continue to make meditation part of my life and why should you?
Meditation helps regulate moods and reduces stress.
There is nothing like being stress-free and leaving those mood swings behind for a while. Right, ladies (and gentlemen)?
Meditation helps ignore distractions.
This one takes some practice. It is especially helpful to close your eyes and breathe while sitting in traffic. Just make sure you are in the passenger seat.
Meditation builds resilience against pain.
Focusing on the breath has a calming effect on the body and mind. While pain may still exist, it’s no longer calling the shots.
Meditation increases relaxation.
This is what keeps us motivated. To be able to sit in a dimly lit room, with candles, and essential oils, is like hitting the lottery.
Meditation increases optimism.
Who doesn’t want a spring in their step, a half empty glass that can be refilled, or to crack open a Fortune cookie that you swear was written just for you?
Meditation increases mental strength.
Nobody really needs to run that many laps around the house to find their car keys, or waste an entire block of Post-It notes to buy one container of milk.
Meditation reduces anxiety.
Just try waiting on line for the bathroom during a 15 minute intermission at any show on Broadway. There is nothing like trying to locate your seat, with your $10 bag of Skittles once the performance starts.
The bottom line is that meditation gives us the opportunity to flip the minds switch to “off.” The key is just to experience it—whatever that “it” means at any given moment. Focusing on the breath, does bring about a sense of calm. It allows us to pause before we react, and be comfortable with silence. It sets the tone for how we interact with others both personally and professionally.
At this point, I still consider myself “mediocre” in the meditation department. Like many spiritual seekers, I am a work in progress.
Eventually, I will capture that peaceful, Zen, space, that has alluded me for far too long. Until then I will “Keep Calm, and Breathe On!”
Author: Felice Rosenblum
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: mararie at Flickr