Ever notice how “later” never comes? Right NOW is the best time to start meditating.
Many of my clients and students struggle to begin meditating. I resisted mightily.
My own backstory in brief:
I have a predisposition toward a type-A, achievement-oriented, go-go-go way of being. I had tried to meditate over the years a half dozen times with no real dedication, and always found it frustrating.
Back in 2016, I brought a group together to go skeet shooting for a Resiliency Field Trip. This was an odd thing for a therapist to do, so KUTV sent a reporter, Amanda Jones, to do a tv segment. Amanda and I connected, and I signed up for her email list.
A few months later, as I was in the midst of a dark period and feeling desperate for relief, an email popped into my inbox offering meditation coaching with Amanda (she has trained with Deepak Chopra and founded The Dharana Method).
I took it as a sign. I was willing to try anything to feel better.
In my one-on-one coaching session with Amanda, I finally let go of the need to be “successful” at meditating; to sit without expectations.
It still took more than a year to establish a daily meditation practice. As with all change, it takes dedication to stick with it and it’s really easy to slip back into ingrained habits.
After the first thirty day stretch, the habit fell away for about a week. It was a rough week, and with no observable cause, except that I hadn’t been meditating. I was impatient, frustrated, tired and procrastinating like it was my job, which was also my status quo when I first reached out to Amanda for that coaching session.
The chronic stress from circumstances outside of my control took a constant toll, leaving me anxious, cranky and pessimistic.
It was only in experiencing the absence of meditation that I realized the sneaky benefits that had settled in while I was practicing daily: a baseline level of calm, better sleep, a return to my usual optimistic and confident demeanor, a disappearance of the resistance toward my to do list, and many more moments of simple happiness and peace while being present with my life.
Nowadays, I almost never miss my morning sit for these very reasons, and I still experience a nearly immediate and noticeable decrease in my tolerance for discomfort when I skip it, devolving into a mess of reactivity the longer I go without it.
I have such enormous appreciation for the benefits for mental health, emotional wellness and sustainable behavior change that I went on to train with Amanda to become a Dharana Method meditation teacher.
Those of us who really struggle with meditation are those who need it most. Mindfulness is the counterweight to our strengths, so that they don’t act as corrosive vulnerabilities.
The Challenge: 30 Days of Daily Meditation
Make it an experiment. Truly, that’s what life is anyway. Every day is an experience lab where we can choose to be a curious observer.
Now, to let go of those expectations…
Six Simple Steps to Start Meditating:
- Take the pressure off! You’re just going to sit for a few minutes.
- Take a comfortable seat in a quiet spot.
- Choose a focus – perhaps your breath, the heat of your coffee mug, a scent, or the birds playing in the trees outside.
- Notice when a thought arises (and it will, the goal is not to stop thinking).
- Gently come back to your focus.
- When you feel done, be done. Celebrate!
If you resonate with the overachiever personality type, be sure to record your meditations in a tracking app like Insight Timer or print out a calendar to cross off the 30 days as you go. Maintaining a streak is a natural motivator for the accomplishment-hungry go-getter.
As you tick off the days, notice how you’re feeling, your energy levels, how you’re sleeping. I recommend a brief journal entry, or you can use this worksheet, to reflect after each meditation.
Resource: I recorded this Guided Intro to Anapana Meditation for my students inside The Resilience Class. It’s an accessible 10-minute meditation on a focus you have with you 100% of the time: your breath.
You can do this.
Your mind, body and soul are craving a bit of stillness and presence.