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Camille Styles

Why You Should Be Meditating

July 15th, 2016

Meditation was a foreign concept to me until very recently. I’ll admit that when any of my friends or colleagues talked about meditating, I immediately envisioned them sitting down in a dimly-lit room, legs crossed, candles lit, with their eyes closed and maybe some soft music playing in the background with a cluster of crystals in close proximity. It seemed like a lot of work and something that didn’t come natural to me, so I was hesitant to try it despite their claims that it’s an important part of their overall health.

I feel pretty confident knowing the kinds of exercises and proper fueling my body needs to feel good, but where I could use extra guidance is learning how to calm my mind, or better yet, how to just think in peace. I’m an excited person to the core. My mind moves a mile a minute. I’m never not thinking about the next step. I often joke that I need to learn to control my excitement and let my mind relax when my body does. I’m a do’er and love to learn, connect and create, but like anything, I can burn out quickly if I don’t simply learn to chill. Needless to say, something was missing in my overall health and after a few nudges from a friend, I tried meditation.

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I set my hesitations aside, downloaded the Headspace app and tried their free Take10 trial (10 minutes of meditation for 10 days). Ten minutes seemed easy enough and totally doable, but I only made it to day three. Not because I couldn’t get on board with it or didn’t like it, but because I started this two weeks before SXSW kicked off. I thought that life and work were too busy and that my early morning workouts needed to come first. Basically, I didn’t make meditation a priority. I would soon learn that during my busiest of times, is when I need meditation the most.

A few weeks later during SXSW, Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, delivered our closing Keynote remarks. Before I had the pleasure of introducing him on the big stage, I had a chance to talk to Andy backstage. I told him “I’m so happy you’re here and delivering our closing remarks. This is so cool, but I’m totally nervous to intro you, my heart is pounding.” He said (in the most calming voice ever), “I often find that nervousness and excitement have a similar feeling. What if you focused on your excitement rather than nervousness? That might change the way you feel.” He was right. Suddenly, a huge weight was lifted off my chest and I wasn’t nervous. I walked on stage in front of thousands of people and I was excited.

The lightbulb went off.

It didn’t matter how positive I was or how much I saw situations with a half-glass-full mentality — in that moment, and really everyday, I wasn’t connecting with my mind. None of this made any sense prior to speaking to Andy and hearing his Keynote that day.

why you should be meditating

“The mind,” he said, “if we leave it alone, if we don’t take anytime to look after it — it will start to breakdown and we won’t experience life in the happiest way possible. We often think that happiness is somewhere in the future: if we just get that thing, if we get that job, if we go to that place, if we can just be with that person. We’re always looking to the future and some place else in the hope that we’ll find it. You’re going to have to give up looking for happiness outside of yourself. The only thing to do is to get comfortable with the mind as it is. Whether it’s a busy mind or a quiet mind. Thoughts you like, thoughts you don’t like. Pleasant feelings, unpleasant feelings — you just have to get comfortable with it.”

I had never really associated meditation with happiness. I thought that meditation helped calm your mind and maybe think about things on a deeper level. While I sat backstage watching the talk, I remember thinking to myself “I finally get it” and truly realized how powerful and important meditation is for a healthy mind.

You can watch his full Keynote here (it was pretty life-changing for me).

Shortly after attending Andy’s Keynote, I received an invitation from lululemon to join 50 thought-provoking individuals for a 5-day yoga and meditation retreat called “The Immersion” in May. I’ve always wanted yoga to be a part of my routine and after learning more about meditation, I was all in. The mediation portion of the The Immersion was led by author and spirit junkie Gabby Bernstein. She put meditation into the most simplistic of terms and gave me an entirely new perspective: “Being on a spiritual journey doesn’t mean you’re lighting candles and on your yoga mat perfectly everyday, it means you’re willing to look at your shit and change.” She encouraged us to dig deep, say yes to the discomfort and be ugly in the truth. Meaning address your fears, get in touch with your ego and be honest with yourself. I’m on day 11 of her book, May Cause Miracles, and it’s already been a game-changer.

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For me, both Andy and Gabby are saying the same thing: exercise your mind, taking time to think through things, address any situation, be open and honest with yourself, and in turn you will be your happiest and truest self.

Here are the top 4 things that meditation has done for me in a very short time.

1. I take more time to think.

Remember how I said I need to control my excitement? I’ve found that when I let myself really “feel the feels,” especially when I’m upset, bummed, sad, etc., I can dive pretty deep into figuring out what the root of the problem is. Same goes for not immediately saying YES without thinking it through. Rather than fire off a quick email or text, I take a minute or even a day and sit on it.

2. I’m a better listener. 

By listening to myself more, I’ve been able to reciprocate that to others. You know when you feel your best, you act your best? It’s the same with listening.

3. Understand my needs.

Our bodies do a great job of telling us when we need to take a break, especially when we’re sore, tired, or even sick. But our minds? That’s all on us. With meditation, I’ve been able to tap into what I need to do to make sure I’m happy and in a good headspace. Sometimes that means turning down trips, jobs, financial commitments, and relationships. Other times it means going on a 5-hour bike ride with your closest friends or treating yourself to something new.

4. I face my fears head-on.

I talk a lot about stepping outside of my comfort zone. I do this on a daily basis. But as I’ve been reading Gabby’s book May Cause Miracles, I’ve faced even bigger fears head-on. She asks you to write them down, notice when your ego comes into play telling you that “you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” and understanding how to change that. I’ve addressed everything from dating to voicing my opinion to riding my bike with faster and more skilled riders.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to. . . you guessed it . . . living kindly.

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16 Comments under :: Why You Should Be Meditating
  1. MissLilly says:

    I really relate to your post quite a lot! I have been working under high pressure for a few years now and I felt I was breaking apart. The triggering point for me was the fact that I’m now pregnant, so suddenly it was no longer about me, but also about the baby inside of me. I’ve started meditation end of May (also using headspace) and I found it quite liberating and easy to do. The other thing I’ve started was yoga. Same as you I was telling myself: one day I need to start yoga, so this time enlisted for a pregnancy class and really enjoying it. I feel that I’m becoming quieter and I can relax a bit more now. I still struggle with the focus because as soon as I close my eyes my mind just wonders, I try to bring it back, but as soon as I notice it’s gone again! Totally recommend meditation though and will make an effort to have at least 10m a day to stop everything and focus on the here and now (will be a challenge once baby is born!)

  2. This is a great post! I started meditating almost three months ago and happily haven’t missed a day yet. I was struggling to get my anxiety under control and sleep through the night, so I decided to add meditation to my day. I started with the Calm app, which offered daily guided mediation practices, but I just recently tried Headspace. I completely agree with your assessment of meditation, and I’m going to add Gabby’s book to my summer reading list. Thanks for sharing your experience with the practice!

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  3. Steph says:

    I’m on a 194 days streak with Headspace (and have been doing it probably every day except maybe 5 of them) for over a year now. It makes a HUGE difference to my state of mind and the way I deal with anxiety. I’d recommend it to anyone. So cool you got to hear Andy talk. I’m glad it’s losing its old hippie stigma.

  4. sincerelyjoblog says:

    Awesome post! Very informative, especially since I began meditating a few months back (it’s not as easy as people think!). Your post made some really great points… I am gonna check out that speech now, because the quote you inserted was pretty spot on!

  5. Tina says:

    This is a really interesting topic. I enjoyed reading your perspective and I must say I am more focused every day to achieve inner piece and start appreciating myself more. Thank you for your thoughts!

  6. Jeremy says:

    Thank you for sharing! I’ll check out Andy’s talk. Meditation is a great gift for us and for those around us. I thoroughly enjoy waking up refreshed, relaxed and feeling grateful for everything. Some other great resources are Tara Brach’s podcasts (www.tarabrach.com) and the Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, CA (www.insightmeditationcenter.org) Both great communities that encourage personal learning that then inspires sharing and simply being to create more peace in this world 🙂

  7. carly c says:

    Hi, this is a really great post, i have been doing meditation recently and have noticed a small difference. I need to do it more and learn more about it, i find it really interesting 🙂

    http://www.blogwithlove.co.uk

  8. Lorilyn Darce says:

    Great post! It basically says everything that those who finally allow meditation to do it’s work will experience. I started with the periodic free meditations offered by Oprah and Deepak Chopra in 2013 (they are offered about every 6 weeks or so at (www.chopracentermeditation.com). I registered and pulled the site up on my smart tv. Oprah and Deepak offer their extraordinary words of wisdom for a few minutes – with mindful notes to help you focus and then Deepak guides your start to the meditation. While it’s usually considered a morning practice, I often find that I sleep so much better when I do it in the evening. It clears my mind of the traffic jam of thoughts in my head that can make one restless throughout the night if still stewing about things that happened at work, or on the drive home, or the multiple things we have to remember on behalf of everyone in our lives. I cannot express the many things I have worked out in my life from just sitting still, relaxing, and working to clear all of the cluttering thoughts from my mind. You learn a sense of peace that no one can penetrate. I can honestly say that when the free 21 day series ends, within a week I am longing for it again so I’m looking forward to checking out the recommendations from the posts. Of all of the free series that were offered my favorite was the one centered on Gratitude. I’ve learned that the bottom line is, if you can wake up every day no matter what is going on in your life, feeling gratitude – there is nothing that can take you down. Learning to find that quiet, peaceful state has also highly improved my prayer time. Namaste.

  9. Carmen Jorge says:

    Just THANK YOU

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