There are a million articles about there telling you about the power of meditation. There are a million articles telling you all the right reasons to do it. There are a million articles telling you all the different types of meditation (and a million apps to help you with that, too).
There are far fewer articles, I find, talking about how it feels to meditate regularly. I don’t understand why not. In my experience, it’s a whole lot easier to do something you “should” do, that’s “good” for you, when you also enjoy the activity.
So here’s my post about adding meditation to my life.
I’ve considered meditating daily off and on over the past few years, but I’ve never tried as much as I could. It took me a long time to get past feeling like a failure because I didn’t do it perfectly that first time I tried. Or the second time. Or the third time. It’s HARD to trick your brain past “I didn’t do this right, I can’t really do it.” But between depression and anxiety, I’m having a lot of practice tricking my brain into better patterns, and a lot of support in doing that.
This time, when I decided I wanted to start meditating daily, I gave myself a few guidelines:
- Experiment with different types of meditation every day. Do I want a guided meditation? (I highly recommend the buddhify app if you’re looking for guided meditations for every situation!) Do I just want to listen to soft rain for five minutes? What about bells and instrumental music? How about staring at a candle in silence? So far, I haven’t tried silence, because it seems a lot harder for me, but I like mixing up guided meditations with listening to soft sounds and doing my own meditation.
- Would it help to have a buddy to check in with it every day? YES! I asked a good friend to help check up on me every day, someone who also is interested in trying to meditate every day. It has been excellent encouragement to both check in on a dear friend and keep myself mindful of whether or not I’ve practiced today.
- My most important guideline: I am practicing. If I miss a day, all right, try again tomorrow. If I spent a whole five minutes wrestling my thoughts to shoo so I could focus on my breathing, that’s okay, because I am practicing. That’s a great trick for my brain, that the phrase “daily practice” also connotes “practicing”, as in I don’t have to be perfect right now. I’m working on it, and that’s fine. Every day is a new time to pick myself up and try again.
I really am not good at doing this daily right now. Between anxiety toward doctors’ offices and my body being less-than-energetic, most of my week has been spent taking care of myself. But it’s okay, because it’s a practice. And the weirdest thing, the thing I never thought would happen, the thing that leaves me in awe?
When I actually make the time to meditate, I actually love doing it.
There you go. The big secret that all the how-to articles forget to tell you. Meditation is good for you, sure, whatever, but when all is said and done, I only want to do things if they make me feel good. And when I’m done meditating for a few minutes, I feel light. My brain has a chance to rest from the hamster wheel of anxiety, and I can feel the energy my body has worked up slowing down and grounding itself. Even after just five minutes, I feel better, more alert and energized and ready to tackle things. Less likely to get stuck in an anxiety-loop of feelings and annoying thoughts.
So I’m going to keep it. It’s not reasonable to expect myself to actually meditate every single day, but that is my goal. And it’s practice. When I get better at it, I’ll be able to do more with it. I’m looking forward to that, but I am also happy that just a little bit every day is making me feel good to be in my body.
What “good for you” things do you actively enjoy doing? Have you tried something that someone told you you “should” do and suddenly you love it, too? What are your thoughts on it?