Morning! Today is a much needed rest day from working out, so I have a little extra time this morning. I might sneak in a little yoga at some point if I get a chance and I’m hoping to go for a walk. This is also a half/ flex day of work for me so I’m looking forward to a lighter day today all around.
Yesterday was kind of an irritating day. Our road was completely blocked due to the resurfacing construction, so I couldn’t get my car out if I wanted to. (I didn’t actually have to go anywhere, but it just made me feel even more trapped than I already kind of do, and, I couldn’t even go on a walk during a break which made me crabby). Then mid-morning our garage door broke (well, the spring broke). So we can’t open it and now we need to call today to get it replaced. Great. Later, I was cold and wanted to turn the fireplace on and I couldn’t get the fan on it to work! (Ivan was finally able to but it was still frustrating to me in the moment!) Just sort of one of those days that seemed off every time I turned around.
When I complained out loud “why is everything so complicated today??”, Ethan proclaimed, “Because 2020 is trash!” Ha. I kind of agree, buddy. 🙂
Okay, that’s more than enough whining about truly insignificant problems! Here are a couple things I decided to focus on instead:
|My Magnolia tree is finally starting to bloom!
|Take out pizza for dinner 🙂 Can’t be crabby and eat pizza at the same time.
Meditation May! = minimum 5 minutes meditation x all 31 days in May
If you saw my May goals post the other day, then you saw me mention that a big goal of mine for May is to reintroduce regular meditation into my days.
This is something I have really struggled to make a regular habit. Meditation seems like a bit of a buzz word over the last few years and although I know it has been around for thousands of years (I’m assuming? I don’t even really know the origins of it, honestly), it seems to me like it’s gaining more and more popularity among average people. The benefits are becoming more well known and lots of research has been done (which is fascinating to me) about how it can actually physically change your brain!!
I’ve had meditation on my goals list for several years now. And every time I try it, I usually end up feeling that I’m pretty bad at it. I am an active person and have a hard time quieting my mind. I sometimes have a hard time just sitting still. When I used to run a lot, I would joke that that was my style of “meditation”. Also, I am (or was? I’ve been working on this…) what you would call a “worrier”. My grandma was one, my mom tends to be one, so, guess what? So am I. I just have a hard time not ruminating on things that I’m stressed about, I can be a bit of a perfectionist, I tend to be busy and do too much and I have the bad habit of just WORRYING about stuff that I cannot control or change!
Basically, I am the poster child of someone who could benefit from meditation.
So this year, I once again added “meditate for at least 5 minutes daily” to my first monthly goals list in January. I know 5 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but I am a big believer that goals need to be attainable and realistic.
First though, I spent some time thinking about why all of my previous attempts at meditating hadn’t been successful and I came up with the following list:
1. I didn’t have a specific time in my day to do it
2. I didn’t have a specific place to do it
3. I didn’t have a specific method of doing it (meaning, some days I just sat in silence and tried to “listen to my breath”. If that didn’t seem to work, the next day I tried a guided meditation from You Tube. The next day, maybe a different one. Then, maybe I’d just sit with quiet rain sounds or music on.)
I kept trying all different things and never really found my groove, I guess. Eventually, it seemed too hard, I wasn’t seeing the benefits, I wasn’t really enjoying it and I would always just give up.
But I still had the nagging feeling that I hadn’t really given it a fair enough chance. It apparently works “wonders” for some people, so I felt intrigued enough to give it another try.
So in January, I committed to really setting up a system. I decided that I would do my 5 minutes of meditation every morning, right after I made my tea. I would go into our downstairs basement bathroom (next to my office), lock the door, dim the lights, turn on a flameless candle from the bathtub, and sit cross-legged on the soft, fluffy bath mat with my back against the wall.
*This may seem like a weird place to meditate, but I have this semi-irrational fear of someone walking in on me meditating with my eyes closed and startling the crap out of me. This set up guaranteed a locked door. My bedroom is off limits since Ivan was always still sleeping at that time and my office door doesn’t lock.
Another thing I did was nail down an actual method to be consistent with. I liked some of the guided meditations, but I never really found one that I loved. One day I somehow ran across the free app “Tide” on my phone. I actually had downloaded this a long time ago (before I found my Forest productivity app) and used to use Tide to turn on timers while I worked (it also plays white noise like rain or ocean sounds).
I discovered it also has a “Breathe” function within the app, which allows you to set a timer for your meditation period. You can choose from different quiet background sounds (I use the Ocean option) and you can also choose from either Balanced Breaths or the 4-7-8 Breathing method (breathe in for 4 counts, hold, then release). I like the 4-7-8 method doing 4 cycles per minute.
|The “Tide” app on my iPhone
The app makes a quiet “ding” sound when you should inhale, hold or exhale and my phone vibrates just slightly in my hand. I don’t find it distracting but rather very helpful in controlling my breathing cycle without looking at the screen. I also have found that if I just try to “focus on my breath” alone, I tend to start focusing on which of us is going to pick up Ethan from soccer practice tonight or if I remembered to write “tea bags” on the grocery list. 😆 So, I have found great success (well, maybe not “great” success, but “better” success- I am a MAJOR work in progress still when it comes to meditation) if I do some visualization while I breathe.
I like to visualize a big white light sitting in my stomach. When I inhale, I picture it rising up, illuminating my lungs, then throat, then up to my nose and behind my eyes. Then I hold it there for a few counts and then exhale. As I exhale, I picture that light running back down my body, lighting up my neck and back down through my lungs. I envision my lungs deflating as I exhale the air out. I just repeat this over and over, this cycle of the breath with the imaginary light circling around in my body. In and out, in and out.
This visualization has helped me immensely! It gives me something to fixate on while still blocking out other thoughts. I definitely still have many, many, MANY other thoughts that creep in like, every 2 seconds. But at least I have a system to focus on and return to after I push those thoughts away (again and again…)
|This is the app, if you want to give it a try
I am no expert on meditation at all, but this is just what I decided to try back in January and it was going great! I meditated 29/31 days in January. 22/29 days in February. 4 days in March (we were out of town for the end half of March). And then…..0 in April. Argh!! I KNOW I can do this- look how great I did in January! But I just stopped prioritizing it. Once we returned from Mexico, my habits and routine were all thrown off and I never resumed it.
However, back in January, I really think I was starting to feel the benefits! I felt more focused, my mind felt calmer, I just felt a little bit more centered throughout the day. So, I have recommitted to it now for May. So far, I am 5/5. I’m going to do it at least every single day this month for 5 minutes.
Does anyone else meditate??? I would seriously LOVE to hear from someone with more meditation experience. Or, if you have been wanting to try it, I’d love to hear about that too! Leave a comment below 🙂
Steps: 10,895 (had to hit the treadmill after dinner to get more in!)
I am grateful for pizza! That pizza last night really just hit the spot. I had taken some meat out to cook, but the kids asked for pizza, so we said “why not!” I’m grateful for little treats and little traditions that aren’t a big deal but just make an ordinary day feel a little more fun.
2 thoughts on “‘Meditation May’”
Oh I love (the idea of) meditation! There are sooooo many different approaches out there and I can see how it would be overwhelming to a beginner. I'm glad you found a method that works for you. I'm laughing at you in the bathroom, though I know what you mean! 🙂 I remember once meditating in the living room with my eyes closed and I suddenly felt this presence near me and then something cold gently touched my face – I freaked out! It was my dog and her nose coming to see what i was doing, haha. Terrifying. I don't think the type of meditation matters much as long as it becomes a consistent habit. I have been meditating off and on since 2008 – I got super into it when we lived in Indiana, and have come back to it off and on over the years, though it's been a loooong time now. I use the Vipassna method of meditation (which is just sitting without moving and focusing on the breath), which I find incredibly challenging, though it does get a tiny bit easier when you do it regularly. In the past I have tried for 10 min a day, though I haven't sat regularly for years so maybe your 5 min would be more realistic if/when I try to get back into it. It definitely improves the quality of my life and the mindfulness I bring to other activities so I'm a big proponent. I'm grateful for pizza too! I'm so envious of that you have Marco's so close by – love that 'za! We make our own because there are no good pizza places near us. Pizza and a movie is pretty much a weekend tradition for us and something we all look forward to. I think we'll have pizza tonight, now that I think about it 🙂
I think 5 mins is a perfectly acceptable starting point. Some people preach you need long stretches of it but I think even a little bit can be helpful. I have a hard enough time with 5 minutes, so I'm not planning to add in hours long sessions any time soon. I don't much about the different variations but have just been trying to stick with SOMETHING at least for a while to see if I can improve. When I kept bouncing around with different styles I never really got anywhere.