I seem like a very calm, serene person. Someone I once worked with called me “the definition of laidback”. That’s fine. That’s awesome. But, while it looks that way, that’s not the way it is. Think about ducks. They look so smooth and graceful gliding across a pond, but under the water they are paddling for their lives. That’s how it really is with me. I am quiet and cool, but inside my mind is racing, going a mile a minute. I am think about the past (“I wonder what would’ve happened if I…”), present (“It’s too warm in here, I might get a headache”) and future (“I think I’ll have pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. Probably not tomorrow, maybe next Monday”) – all at once. This is all happening while I’m listening to music, checking an app notification, working on my laptop and watching tv on closed captioning at the same time. It never stops – and that’s good! I do enjoy living this way, the Multi-Tasking Life, but I do need a break from it every once in a while.
About 12 years ago, to cope with the stress brought on by over-stimulation and overthinking, I began meditating. It was something I had heard and read about for years, and one day I decided “…that sounds like something I need in my life…” I picked up the book “The Complete Idiots Guide to Zen Living” and I was on my way.
Since then I have taken a couple of classes here and there – on the Alexander Technique and even aromatherapy – to add to my Zen/meditation repertoire. In 2008, I was lucky enough to take daily meditation classes at the Omega Institute during the Women and Power Workshop. There, we did seated and walking meditations at least twice a day on the gorgeous grounds. I don’t practice every day, I wish I did. In fact, and this is bad, I usually only practice when I am at the stress breaking point.
When I do meditate, I really love the focus I give to my breathing. I have the tendency to, like most people, hold my breath when I am stressed out or in pain. It’s amazing how a deep breath, in and out, can help to relax you so much.
It sounds really simple, right? Just clear your mind of all thoughts, focus on your breath and chill out. Well, it’s not always easy for me to “clear my mind”. In fact, I don’t think I have ever completely “wiped the slate clean” while meditating. And that’s, okay. I can still feel blissful while a little something goes on in my mind. It usually ends up being something happy and hopeful instead of worries. There is something that helps though…
Guided Meditation and Imagery!
These styles of meditation can really help anyone who has a problem with focus. The guide talks you through your meditation, by telling you what types of breaths or movements to make (guided meditation) or by talking you through different imaginary scenarios that will help you get through whatever problems you’re having (guided imagery). I find it easier to concentrate on the music and/or the guide’s voice than to just sit in a quiet room and try to “clear my mind”.
It helps put me in a positive mindset. I like to listen to guided imagery before I do something important – before taking a test, giving a presentation, etc. it can really make you feel more powerful and confident.
It can also help you sleep. There are some great Youtube videos and podcasts out there with meditations specifically for helping you sleep. You have to find the ones that will work for you. Some make me fall asleep while I’m listening and some just make me feel relaxed but not sleepy.
As with anything – do what works for you!
The Tea Garden
Today I visited The Tea Garden, a new teahouse in my hometown of Middletown, New York, where they held a free morning guided meditation and breakfast bar.
It was great! Jillian, the owner and meditation guide was so knowledgeable and had so many tips and tricks.
I told her about how thoughts will sometimes intrude my meditation and she advised “…step outside of them and don’t get involved. Treat them as if you are a third party observer.” I actually found that really helpful during today’s meditation.
Oh – and there was also food! There are nothing but clean eats on the menu and they are all small, palate cleansing dishes. Nothing heavy, nothing to feel guilty about.
Today there were tea eggs, kidney beans, a variety of pickled and spiced veggies and, my favorite, steamed buns…
So, I have to say, it was a pretty good “Wellness Wednesday”…
- For more on guided imagery and meditation, visit Health Journeys.com
- From that site, I enjoy guided imagery from Belleruth Naperseck and Lynne Newman. Lynne is a New Age practitioner who is local to me, and leads amazing guided meditations in person as well.
- Some great podcasts:
- Meditation Minis with Chel Hamilton
- Sleep With Me: The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep (hilarious, actually)
- Guided Meditations: The Yoga Bunny