I know what some of you guys may be thinking: Minna, a cynic?
I've always been a bit of a walking juxtaposition. While I do think that I am a generally positive person with quite an open mind, I do have my limits on being able to tolerate a certain level of "hokey" without at least an eyebrow raise or a slight eye-roll.
This especially becomes apparent in yoga classes. While I truly dislike this strange "athletic" hardcore direction that some studios' yoga classes have been taking where their yoga starts to look more like a HIIT or interval class (this is not what yoga is for... if HIIT is what you want, go to the appropriate class), I also personally have a very tough time not laughing when a yoga teacher says a stream of indecipherable yoga phrases and talks about sun beams coming from my bottom and out of my ears. Anyone else feel the same way??
Anyway, I had a really hard time getting onboard with meditation for a few reasons.
First, was a bad experience with a yoga instructor who kept barking at us during a meditation portion that if our mind was wandering to thoughts, we were doing it wrong. My brain tends to go at about 300mph most of the time with about 10 different things going on at once up there, so being told that I wasn't doing it right unless my mind was essentially a hollow log felt impossible and unreachable for me. So I was highly discouraged.
Secondly, I am the most restless person ever. One of my best friends and roommate in college would always joke around about how I could never sit still during a movie night in with her. I'd always have to get up and swiffer the floors, attempt homework, or anything to keep from sitting still. Oops. So sitting still trying to calm my mind and not fidget is harder than climbing Mount Everest for me.
Third, it just felt like one of those daunting tasks that you know is really beneficial to you but it feels like such an effort to integrate and make it a habit. Yes, even health coaches struggle with new habits too.
So I eased into it.
Nowadays I will do it on my own, but I used Headspace as a way to get the ball rolling. It has a 10 session introductory course for FREE (no, this post is not sponsored by Headspace!), and it literally is just 10 minutes of your day.
You ALL know you have 10 minutes of time per day you can trade in to do this... and if you say you don't, let me ask you, have you checked Instagram or Snapchat or played Pokemon GO today? Then yes, you have 10 minutes indeed. And if Emma Watson also endorses this app, you know you're golden.
It really is an amazing app that eases you into the concept of meditation without the overly hokey hippie factor that can initially make meditation seem unappealing for some people. Rather than trying to eliminate or block out thoughts, it really brings you to focus on your senses and present state of mind. Just like waves of the ocean, you don't try to stop the waves of thought from rolling in, you just know that the tide will carry it back out just as soon if you just ride the wave.
Plus it's a British dude talking rather calmly and matter-of-factly to you, and I personally enjoyed that far more than a breathy instructor trying to talk like a lamaze instructor telling you to breeeeeeathe and fill your senses.
I think it was a strange pressure I put on myself, that I had to be "good" at meditating to do it. And we all frequently hear this too- "Oh, I don't love meditation. I'm just really not good at it and quieting my thoughts."
But the truth is, it's not about being "good" or "bad" at meditation. Sure, there are far more experienced people that are much deeper, mentally and spiritually, into their practice, but simply showing up consistently is more important than how "perfectly" you execute your 10 minutes. And I would wage to say that many of us are not very good at quieting our thoughts, in this day and age where we are surrounded by technology and stimulus every second of the day.
But that's precisely why meditation is so helpful- to offset that crazy cycle of everyday life. To just take a moment to unwind and re-center yourself in a world that can get all too overwhelming. It's not about shushing your thoughts or warding them off; it's about the awareness of how those thoughts come and go from your mind, and paying attention to what's going on in the present.
To be continued: Stay tuned for a post on the reasons WHY meditation is so awesome for you!