I have been on the journey of meditation for a little over 2 years now. It has been a journey that I am continually grateful for as it has completely transformed my life in numerous ways.
I struggle with overthinking. I am someone who can get so caught up in thoughts about the “what if’s” that it can create an anxious state of being where I am never in the present. I used to let thoughts fester and ultimately cause the manifestation of the negative that I didn’t want to happen. Through meditation I have learned the tools to allow myself to recognize that thoughts are just thoughts, that whatever is going to happen will happen and to be okay with whatever that outcome is, and to help me notice that I am enough where I am today.
Although my meditation practice is still very much in tact it has changed into this different practice that allows me to feel the benefits of meditation periodically throughout the day, rather than in planned out settings.
When I first started meditation I was using the Headspace app and doing meditation in more of a planned and scheduled way in which I allocated a certain amount of time, sat in an upright position, and was in a quite space to allow me to fully immerse myself in the practice. Utilizing the guided meditation was a great way for me to establish the routine of meditating and really understand what I should be doing in those 10 minutes of stillness. Instead of sitting there thinking “am I doing this right?”, the speaker would tell me exactly what to do so I knew whether or not I was on the right path.
With the headspace app you are also able to keep track of how many days in a row you are meditating. As I progressed in my mediation I realized that I was almost mediating simply to get the number for the day added, rather than being really present in the moment and meditating out of wanting a calm experience. This doesn’t surprise me as I tend to be that person that has perfectionistic tendency’s and wants to go above and beyond a goal I set in my mind!
After achieving a full year (I actually went well over but got to 100 days and forgot one day so started back from scratch… theres that perfectionism again!), I did some self reflecting of my meditation practice and decided it was time for me to spread my wings and put all the modalities I learned into my own practice without assistance.
I could lie to you that its been sooooo easy to make the change and do meditation on your own, but honestly I have had quite the ups and downs.
Some days I sit there, knowing that I should be letting all my thoughts go in and out without focusing on anything in particular, but I cannot shut my brain off. Other days I am able to meditate like its my job and feel like I can be in that zen state for hours!
Rather than judging my practice I have instead decided to look at it like this ever growing, ever evolving, changing ball of energy that can only impact my day positively, no matter how “bad” I felt the meditation was.
A few things I have been doing in order to allow my mediation to grow is to tie it with something that I do every day. As a physical human being who exercises most days of the week I decided to start mediating while I stretch at the end of my workout. Typically I am in a noisy gym so I’ll either take my headphones off and use those sounds to mediate to, or if I decide to do this at the gym I work at I will leave my headphones in and put a relaxed song on in order to drown out the noise. Plus the headphones tend to help block people from coming up to me and starting a conversation during this quite time, which sounds terrible as I love all the interactions, but this time is my time and how I reset. Don’t ever feel guilty for having your own time!
With these stretching meditations I either keep my eyes closed, or have them open but not focusing on anything in particular, and allow myself to really breathe and feel the movements of the stretches settle into my body.
Another mediation that I have been doing that is different from a traditional mediation is utilizing the time driving to or from work. Obviously for this one your eyes are open. You turn the radio off and observe all that is going on around you. Again, not focusing on anything in particular but just being aware and present of what you are doing and where you are going. If you are someone who gets stressed in traffic this is a great tool to utilize as it will help decrease your stress and allows tension to drip away.
Doing these meditations has allowed myself to experience a meditative state in a shorter period of time and drop the expectations of what that mediation is supposed to be. Some days I’ll set a timer, some days I’ll just go with the flow and concentrate on breathing for however long I feel like. Taking the pressure or exceptions off of meditation allows it to be exactly what it should be, a practice to allow you to destress and feel fully in the moment.
When I reflect on what my meditation “is” I realize that it is more a way of life. Its more about appreciating tiny moments like a stretch after a workout, or a car ride to work in order to get my mind ready to give my clients 100% at a job I love.
The point of this post is to help show you that meditation does not have to be the stereotypical view of what meditation is. Mediation can be your own practice with your own techniques that is forever evolving to meet you where you are in the moment. Don’t judge whether you are doing it “correctly” or if you feel that it was “bad” one day but rather know that it is doing something for you either way, allowing you to become more in tune with yourself and where you are in the moment.
If you want more tips on mediation check out my website ShannonDolanFitness.com, where you can find my 8 week mind body fitness program, Aligned To Thrive, that encompasses mediation, mindfulness, gratitude, nutrition and 6day/week workouts to allow you to excel in life.