Thriving Thursdays: Meditating
Happy Thursday and welcome to another Thriving Thursdays with Amelia! Today we're talking about meditating. Now before you totally dismiss this post, hear me out. I GET YOU. I was the biggest skeptic for the longest time, but for just 10 minutes per day it is hands down the most powerful and productive tool I have added to my routine. (If you'd prefer to watch a video scroll to the end of this post!)
Meditating was something I wrote off as something that wasn't for me for a long time. I knew about the many health benefits and believed it was helpful for some people, but it didn't seem like my kind of thing. I'm a type-A-always-on-the-go kind of person. I'll happily push harder but tell me to sit down and take a breath and that's a challenge. Calm my mind? Hahaha...
Despite my reluctance, hearing about the health benefits was something I couldn't ignore. This year I successfully integrated it into my daily routine and now I'm a little obsessed with it. I only meditate for 10 minutes, but those 10 minutes have had a huge impact on my outlook and mindset.
These are the major benefits of meditating that I've noticed:
- Greater control of emotions: The most powerful thing meditating does is allow you to become a spectator to your thoughts. I find that I now look at my emotions in a different way. I can step away from them, understand where they're coming from, and decide how to deal with them instead of letting the emotions overwhelm or control me.
- Greater ability to manage stress: When you separate yourself from your emotions, managing stress becomes a whole lot easier. Meditating has helped me to have a shift in my mindset that has been hugely powerful. By meditating in the mornings, I also find that it's a great way to ground myself on days that I'm nervous about something.
- Increased clarity and ideas: I find that these 10 minutes are sometimes the most productive minutes of my day. Meditating helps me to have clarity and new ideas so frequently that I keep a Notes list on my phone to write down thoughts that come to me while meditating.
- Increased happiness: 2020 has been one hell of a year, but I truly believe I've been able to maintain an overall more resilient and positive outlook because of meditating.
How to get into meditating:
1. Commit to meditating for just 1 minute per day.
When I told myself I had to meditate for 10 minutes per day it wasn't happening. I always felt like I was too busy to just pause for 10 minutes to breath - the concept seemed ridiculous. But when I told myself I only had to do 1 minute per day for the first week there was really no reason I couldn't fit that into my day.
The funny thing is, I never ended up doing just one minute. As soon as the time commitment seemed more manageable, I found that I could fit in at least 5 minutes.
2. Know there's no right or wrong way of meditating.
When I first started trying to meditate I was very good about thinking about how terrible I was at meditating the entire time. That's not super productive. It's important to realize that we all have thoughts and that's totally normal.
The point of meditating isn't to sit there with a completely clear mind. Meditating allows us to take a step back and start viewing our thoughts in a different way - from an outside perspective. This is actually where the magic happens. It's not just the time that you're meditating where you get the benefits, it's the ability to start separating yourself from your emotions throughout the day so that you have better control over how to react to them.
I'm far from a meditating pro, but no part of meditating should be about perfection. There are plenty of days when I sit down to meditate and continue to be distracted thinking about what I need to do and feel kind of ready for it to be done. Other days my watch buzzes with notifications and Jameson comes up and licks me in the face. So zen. But I've realized it's not those few minutes of meditating that matter, it's the benefits you get for the rest of the day.
If you're showing up and trying, you're doing it right. Be kind to yourself and open to exploring your thoughts and what works for you.
3. Pair meditating with a task you already automatically do every day.
One of the most helpful hacks any time you want to develop a new habit is to pair it with a task you already automatically do in the day. Having that consistent reminder helps to give you another nudge to get it done. Before I decided to commit to meditating immediately after my workouts in the morning, I always told myself I'd just do it later in the day. Yeah...that never happened.
Try meditating as soon as you wake up, right before a meal, as part of your bedtime routine right after you brush your teeth - find what works for you and commit to it.
4. Shift your mindset.
Instead of viewing meditating as an obligation view it as a treat for yourself. You get to sit down and just breath for a few minutes! When I finally started to view it as a "mini brain vacation" instead of just another thing on my to-do list I started to enjoy it so much more.
Where to start:
These are the apps that I really love that offer guided meditation for anyone starting out meditating:
- Headspace - This was the app I used for the first year. They have a huge variety of courses and a great beginner's guide to walk you through different approaches for meditating.
- Calm - This is the app that I use now. I love the daily quotes and lessons for inspiration. It also has nice bedtime options to help with sleeping at night.
- Brain.fm - This uses functional music to help your brain reach a desired mental state. I love it for focusing, but it also has great sleep and meditating options.
Just sitting, closing your eyes, and breathing can be a great way to get started. My two favorite techniques are:
Meditating is such a powerful habit you can start integrating into your day today. It's free, requires zero equipment, and can be done anywhere (okay maybe not while you're driving...). I urge you try to commit to meditating for at least 1 minute for the next month to see if you notice a difference in your outlook, stress level, and happiness.
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Happy meditating! :-)