Do you think that meditation is the "emptying your mind," posing like a pretzel for hours on end, reserved for the ultra-healthy, "crunchy-granola-type" yoga people? Think again.
I ignorantly used to picture that specific stereotype, myself. ...and "no way" was this 12-cup-of-coffee-a-day high-heel-pantsuit-wearing Manhattan-bound, 89-100-project juggling marketing management professional capable of "emptying" her mind (let alone her bladder at times)!
The truth is: while there are sooo many ways to meditate and become more mindful, the ultimate goal of meditation on a whole is simple: slow down and "go inside."
WHY WE'RE HEARING ABOUT MINDFULNESS MORE & MORE
It's fairly obvious that a major reason that meditation and mindfulness are talked about so much these days is because this modern Western world is so stressed, depressed and fast-paced that we have forgotten ourselves; and over the decades we have focused our lives on chasing happiness and success..."out there."
Stress, conflicts, shame and depression can come from inflating the importance of normal. Somewhere along the line, we seem to have forgotten that "normal" is a synonym for average, common or ordinary--and that it's not the same as "natural." Through all the hubbub and chasing of external things, we seem to forget how to simply return to "being" well, our natural internal state.
When we "go inside" we see what's become of our inner world. Have you ever been so busy that you haven't had time to clean at home, in your car, or in your bag? Has it become chaotic, cluttered, heavy and a challenge to use or be in? That's the same thing that's happening inside of each one of us!
Tripping over shoes in the house that you decided not to wear last-minute; or running out of clean laundry or cutlery... they're like half-done projects and considerations; conflicting schedules and unclear priorities which block the path and flow for things we want in our life: happiness, fulfillment and connection.
Meditation and mindfulness help us to slow down and practice "dialing back" our view to (actual) reality: the non-judgmental awareness of our true natural state in the present moment so that we can move through the next steps thoughtfully, without wasting precious energy on blaming, complaining or comparing (aka: the woulda, coulda shoulda's).
My personal account ("I missed the nudge, so I got a slap") is a prime example of how things can get out of control--how burnout, overwhelm and depression can take over when there is no more time to be.
Over the course of adopting my mindful self-care practices, I'm more readily able to embrace the fact that I can't change the events, actions and circumstances in my past; and am open to forgiving myself now for the unintentional abuse, the missed opportunities--freeing me to focus my efforts on being present, vigilant, aware and intentional in the here and now; because this moment, too, will be another one to add to my history soon enough.
EXPECTATIONS CAN COMPLICATE THINGS, ESPECIALLY GRIEF
At first meditating was really hard for me. I was still stuck on the idea that I wasn't supposed to have any thoughts; and after Nelson died unexpectedly--and I could barely stand to sit with myself in all of my unacknowledged inner turmoil, raw grief and the throes of suffering the aftermath.
It took some time, but eventually I stumbled upon the free 21-day guided meditation experience "Hope In Uncertain Times" at just the right time. Although, I wasn't able to sit through the 20-minute lead meditations everyday; it turned out that trying each time was enough to get me the relief I needed to be able to start functioning again--enough to start going back to work in my Manhattan office after taking four months to work through the initial shock of devastation.
PRACTICE MAKES... PROGRESS
Since then, I've added mindful check-ins and (different kinds of) meditation into my self-care practices; noticing a very obvious correlation between my ability to cope with grief & distress, and the amount of peace of mind & stability I feel--with whether I've taken the time for my self-care practices.
Meditation and breath work have helped me learn to be mindful (non-judgmentally aware) of how and who I am; and more intentional of becoming the ways I want to be: grateful, loving, connected and helpful.
I'd love to hear what you've tried and how its working for you!