Here’s an example of how being closed-minded could keep you from experiencing some really amazing, positive things in life.
So my husband Russ started practicing meditation about 3 years ago and I was like um OK, SURE. In my mind, meditation was based in eastern religion and something that a super hippie yogi who traveled to Nepal would be into. In short, I TOTALLY stereotyped the practice, I admit it. I was just like nope, not for me.
And (ugh) this is a really low point I hate to admit but I would also joke “have fun MEDITATINGGGG” in a totally mocking way whenever Russ went out to the patio in the early mornings to do it. I mean, so RUDE. I didn’t understand it – so I joked about it. Not my best moment at all and I’ve apologized to Russ since.
Fast forward to now and guess who also meditates?
Meditation is now a big part of my wellness routine and has been for almost 2 years.
Why did I finally cave and then happily convert to the practice? God bless my husband who despite my rudeness kept telling me that meditation would be helpful for my sleep and anxiety issues. Nothing severe for either of those – but I’ve had some struggles with both on and off. I also felt I had a constant “mom brain” fog and feelings of total ADHD throughout my day. Russ really believed in this thing called meditation and kept pressing me. So I just said FINE, Russ. FINE. I’ll try it.
And the rest. is. history.
With wellness, health, and self-care thankfully becoming more prevalent and popular in mainstream culture, you likely have come across the concept of meditation at some point. Maybe you know someone who does it, maybe you’ve been intrigued, maybe you’ve tried it or maybe you practice it. Because it’s such an important, wonderful, and positive part of my daily routine and lifestyle, I just have to share it with you.
So here’s the scoop on what meditation is, what the benefits have been for me personally, how I practice it, and tips especially for the busy parent to incorporate meditation into their daily routines (KEY.)
W H A T I S M E D I T A T I O N ?
There’s plenty of articles and studies out there about what meditation is and the various ways in which you can meditate so I won’t get too into that here. Just googling it will take you deep into so much about meditation.
For me, meditation is the practice of taking some moments of your day to focus inwardly into your self – your mind, your body, and your breath – and to clear your mind of all distraction and work on strengthening your focus. This can be 2 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, anything.
I practice guided meditation and like to us an app, specifically Calm which is what I’ve used from the beginning. It’s a super user-friendly app that has a 10 minute daily meditation as well as series of meditations focused on topics like happiness, focus, stress-relief, anxiety, self-esteem, etc. The meditations are guided by a soothing voice and you start with breathwork, focusing intently on the in breath and out breath. Sometimes you do a body scan and notice any tight areas, and whenever a thought comes into your mind you let it go – you “notice it” and then let it drift away. The goal is to empty your mind of distractions, not judge yourself if you DO let your mind wander, and focus on just….being. This is EXTREMELY hard to do, you will find out. The mind is a busy place! Once you do that for a while then the meditation will move onto kind of a “lesson for the day” about a topic like mindfulness, patience, forgiveness, etc. Then you bring your focus back to the room and you’re done!
The turning point for me came when I realized meditation didn’t have to be a spiritual thing. For me, it’s actually a MENTAL thing. It’s almost like a WORKOUT for your brain. I train my body hard to get results – when I don’t workout and skip a couple of days, I feel the effects almost instantly and my body starts to feel soft, slower, and weaker. Same thing with my brain: meditation is my HIIT, my yoga, my bodybuilding for my brain. And as a busy mom, I need my brain to be on point at all times because in my household, we are outnumbered by kids!
B E N E F I T S
There are a billion benefits of meditation (like reduced stress, relief from pain, improving memory, and lowered blood pressure) but the one I experienced first was a QUIETED MIND. And this was wonderful because then everything that followed that day for me was approached in a much more clear and focused way. Who DOESN’T want to feel a little more patient, a little more happier, a little more calm and little more generally zen, right? I also love reading a devotional every day and I found that meditating first allowed my mind to be cleared to fully receive the word of God and hear what He had to say to me that day. It is like clearing the mental clutter so that only the good can live there – even just for a few little blissful moments.
It’s really been a game changer for my mental clarity, strengthened my discipline, and has infused my days with much more peace, intention, and joy. I know that sounds so cheesy but it’s seriously true. I really look forward to each meditation session.
W H A T I U S E
You really don’t NEED anything to meditate but especially for a beginner I think some tools to set in the mood and get you in the right mindset is key for success. Before I start a session, I make sure to have these:
- Essential oils. I love to incorporate aromatherapy because it set the tone and marks the point in my day as “ok, now I’m going to meditate.” I use these amazing gemfleur enhanced aromatherapy blends from a company called Nectar Essences. I love using a minty Focus blend if I’m meditating in the morning and a calming De-Stress blend if I’m meditating in the afternoon or at night. I have also used lavender in a spray bottle and spritzed it around, and it’s oh so refreshing and calming.
- Good headphones. I use these. I LOVE them and use them for working out, too!
- A spot to sit. My favorite is in the living room in one of our four comfy white armchairs. But sometimes I’ll do it in my office or on the couch in our bedroom.
- Your children = occupied. Or preferably sleeping. Or even better – gone. At school, with a sitter, somewhere not with you is really the best. But not usually possible.
- 10 minutes, give or take.
H O W I M E D I T A T E :
T H E I D E A L S I T U A T I O N
My perfect meditating situation would be first thing in the morning and would look like this: I wake up before the kids (I have my alarm set to 5:25am) drink some lemon water, grab my phone and oils, put on my headphones, and start my app and use the daily meditation. Then I will blissfully meditate completely uninterrupted in the quiet of the morning.
This happens about 35% of the time.
H O W I M E D I T A T E :
T H E B U S Y P A R E N T V E R S I O N
On a more common day, the kids wake me up between 4:30-5:30 and either climb into our bed or are up and ready to GO. This is where a consistent mediation practice becomes tricky. If they are cooperating and eating breakfast without fighting or they are ready for school and and are calmly watching a show then I will go to the living room and try to get it done. Some days they let me without interruption, many days they don’t.
On days when that can’t happen (we sleep in, someone is sick, there’s more to do in the morning, we have to leave earlier than usual, etc.) then I will meditate later in the day, somewhere else:
- In the car as I drive – this one I will do when I am alone and I obviously don’t close my eyes. I just focus on the breath and listen to the lesson at the end. It ends up being such a calming and powerfully soothing drive.
- In the car while I wait for an appointment or waiting to pick up the kids. I have little vials and sprays of essential oils in my makeup bag for this reason. Luckily my windows are tinted so it seems semi-private.
- At yoga. Lately I’ve been using the last part of my yoga classes, in savasana, as my meditation. I’ll even bring in my vial of essential oil to enhance the experience even more. I mean, the whole class itself is kind of like a guided meditation with the focus on breathing and mindfully movement. The downside is that it’s not recorded in my app (see below.)
- At night after everyone goes to bed. This one tends to be less focusing and centering, and more like winding down and turning my mind off.
- In bed before falling asleep. Sometimes if I’m up late at night, I will do it right in bed with headphones on. Totally have fallen asleep doing this, so I don’t think it’s the best because I’m not getting the full effect. When I was starting off, though, I would use sleep meditations that specifically helped me to fall asleep, and they really work.
So you can see I have to create ways and times for me to get my meditation in. Whether you are a busy parent or not, creating a consistent habit of meditation is the most challenging part just like creating any new healthy routine or habit. But once you get into the routine of it, you will notice a difference when you miss your meditations. Russ actually can TELL when I haven’t been meditation because a difference in my mood. So, he’s a total fan of me meditating now, too.
Sidenote – Russ goes into the office and meditates for 20 minutes every morning. If you go to an office every day, maybe you can set aside some alone time to close the door and meditate there. Or do it in the car when you park at work.
Have any questions about meditation? Send them my way!