After a very busy couple of weeks, I am back! My apologies for my hiatus – my home and work life were filled to the brim with activities, projects and deadlines these past two weeks. All of my joyful activities, like blogging, totally got put on the back burner. Life didn’t slow down until this past weekend where I was finally able to shift gears and focus on myself & my family. This post couldn’t come at a more appropriate time and I am sure you will be able to relate too.
So here is my question for you: do make space for yourself? Like true space, not time, for yourself. As a mom I often hear and feel that I need to make time for myself. And I do try very hard to make time. Time away at the mall, getting my nails done, taking my time to browse around Target. The problem is, while I am making this “time” for myself, I am also planning a million other things in my mind. Play dates, project deadlines, date nights, content for blog posts! Consider this: the practice of meditation is not making time for yourself, it is making space. Space to heal, space to focus inward, space to just be. This space is truly for yourself. It is not clogged with your giant to-do list that will never end no matter how hard you try.
Last night I started a 6 week series at a local yoga studio call Mindfulness Meditation. I came across this program in our local parks & rec brochure while browsing the catalog in search of the kids section, and the title immediately caught my eye…and then I learned it was FREE! I called immediately and they hadn’t even opened the registration yet. You can be certain I was first in line. And good thing too because the program was received so popularly that they opened a 2nd session.
Meditation is definitely a missing link from my personal wellness plan. I have tried more than a few times to make meditation a habit, but I fall short every time. When I do get into a groove with it, I find it to be immensely helpful – I’m more calm in my daily life, my home is more tranquil and I’m able to see the world a little differently, in a good way. The health benefits from meditating can be profound. Meditation is only recently being widely studied and the scientific results prove that meditation is not only beneficial for your well-being but can also alter the structure of your brain! You can reference two Harvard studies for more information here and here.
If the end result is so amazing, why can’t I make this work for me everyday? Studies show that it takes an average of doing something 21 times to form a habit. During this 6 week course of study on Mindfulness Meditation, I intend to to make meditation an integral part of my daily routine.
Now where does mindfulness fit? Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, without judgement. When you bring mindfulness and meditation together you are being present. You are focusing on exactly what is happening in that moment. Feeling the emotion, sounds, visual cues, and your body in that very moment. You can enjoy this peace doing your favorite things. Do you get lost reading and forget where you are in time and space? Do you paint and feel your entire being only on your canvas, completely unaware of anything else around you? This is mindfulness. Your laser focus is paying attention, on purpose, without judgement.
I figured if I was going on this amazing journey for 6 weeks for free, I would share anything and everything I learned with you. Mindfulness meditation can be 5 minutes or 12 minutes or 30 minutes of your day. It’s FOR YOU. You decide. Here are a couple of take-away’s from my class last night:
- What words come to mind when you think of mindfulness meditation? Make a list and put it where you can see it throughout your day.
- RPM – Rise, pee, meditate. <I chuckled too> If you can accomplish this before your day starts, you can guarantee that you will feel happier, less angry, less anxious. Yes, this means we all have to get up a little bit earlier.
- UCLA has a wonderful free series to help get you started on Mindfulness Meditation. Click here to get started.
I’m a beginner too and I can’t exactly teach you how to meditate, so maybe we can all learn a little together. Here’s what works for me. To get started, find a quiet place to sit comfortably. On the floor, on a cushion, on a chair, all that matters is that you are comfortable. Rest your arms and hands, turn your gaze down or close your eyes and begin to take deep breaths. You’ll want to focus on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation flowing in and out slowly. The best visualization that I was taught years ago was to imagine yourself looking up at the sky. My favorite is a scene where I am sitting in a large field with soft, vivid green grass or on the beach with the waves gently rolling in. All your to-do’s, thoughts and worries are represented as clouds. Just stare at that sky and begin to push those clouds away, until all you see is blue. You may find that the clouds just keep floating in. That’s OK, it’s normal. You may not see blue sky the first couple of times you try this exercise. With practice, anything is possible and the clouds will clear. I’m ready to heal, are you?