Meditation and mindfulness used to scare me
2019 is busy. Have you felt that? It seems like everyone has a million different projects and goals and activities going on, and it’s hard to keep up with.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you really don’t have to keep up with anyone. All you ever need to do is to take care of yourself. One of the best ways to do that is to introduce a method of introspection (or mindfulness — or meditation) into your life.
At the end of this post you’ll find a couple of meditation resources I’ve used over the years, but I’d first like to tell you about why I used to absolutely hate being alone with my thoughts.
A few years ago, while I was still in college, I had a pretty traumatic experience — the kind that stays with you and haunts the backs of your eyes every time you close them. It wasn’t pretty, and it made me utterly fearful of being alone, or quiet, or twiddling my thumbs ever, because I knew my mind would drift to scary and unhealthy thoughts/images.
This meant that I would shove distractions into my days so I could avoid any quiet time. Walking to class? Better call my mom or listen to a podcast. Doing homework or studying? Better put some Real Housewives on the TV for background noise. Sitting down to a meal? Get that TV on, stat.
Even after I graduated, I would still find myself filling my silence as much as possible to avoid any negative or haunting thoughts. It was like I wasn’t comfortable just being myself, and like I couldn’t quite accept what had happened in the past.
As I started diving into therapy more regularly, I started to make peace with my past and feel more at ease in my present.
Lately, I start to feel very stressed if I don’t make time in my daily (sometimes weekly, let’s be honest) life for introspection — a chance to check in with myself and see how I’m actually feeling about my life. Sometimes that looks like journaling, sometimes that’s meditating for 10 minutes a day, sometimes it’s kicking my butt to check in with my therapist more regularly. No matter what it looks like, it’s so incredibly beneficial to our whole frickin’ selves that it’s wild we don’t prioritize it more.
I’m still not the perfect model for mindfulness — my meals are often accompanied by the TV, and my commute still regularly features podcasts — but I’m overall so much more at ease with just being than I was before.
We spend so much time plugged into our phones, and scrolling through social media, we fill our eyeballs and minds with stressors day in and day out. Take some time for yourself, and appreciate the present world around you. You owe it to yourself.
Here are some of the benefits of meditating regularly:
it makes you feel less lonely
it improves your focus/attention levels
it improves your ability to regulate your emotions
it decreases stress/depression
it increases immune function/decreases inflammation
Here are some resources to meditation/mindfulness practices:
the Headspace app — great for guided meditations and specific emotional stresses
the Calm app/website — great for peaceful sounds when you need something ASAP
journaling — you may not be writing the next big memoir, but keeping a log of your emotions/how you felt about things is so useful both for your present and your future
my free Meditation Made Easy download — just some easy, no-fuss ways to bring mindfulness into your everyday life