It only took Kelly’s post and about 15 episodes of this podcast to finally convince me to give meditation a try, and after two weeks of consistently starting my day with 10 minutes of Headspace, I’m already feeling more grounded, calm, and overall way more mindful as I go about my day. I think the reason it took me so long to try meditating is that I needed to discover my own reason for doing it — if I’m going to devote 10 minutes of every day to something, I want to know that there’s a compelling benefit. Well, I’ve found my answer.
*image: kisses and cake
Over the last few months, I started realizing that there were a lot of days where I was just kind of on autopilot. Can any of y’all identify with that feeling? The busyness of family, work, and social life sometimes made it feel like my main goal was just to get through the day! It’s inevitable that we all have moments like those, but overall, I want more out of life than simply checking off my to-list or staying on schedule. I want to live with purpose and meaning, but it can be challenging in this age of jam-packed schedules and social media to cultivate awareness of even what’s directly in front of us. After all, even if I’m in the most beautiful place in the world — on the beach or in a new city or in the backyard with my kids — if my mind is thinking about my dentist appointment or latest instagram post, I can easily miss it all. So, two weeks ago I started meditating! I’d heard that one of the biggest benefits to meditation was increasing mindfulness, so I decided it was time to carve out a small portion of each day to really give it a try.
*image: lean & meadow
Even though I’m still very new to the practice, meditation has already revealed to me that I have far more choice in my behavior than I may have thought. Whether it’s hunger, impatience, excitement, or exhaustion, turns out that my feelings aren’t in control of my actions. I may not be able to alter the circumstances, but I can certainly choose how I react to them. Meditation has helped me pause before I act, think before I speak, and breathe before I react. And as a result, it feels like my actions are starting to become more reflective of my values and the person I want to be, instead of simply reflecting my current mood. No matter what’s happening around me, I can choose to smile, take a deep breath, and respond in a calm manner.
When I start my day with meditation — and I should add that an important part of my personal practice is prayer — I’m able to pause first thing and set my intentions for the day before I dive in. Instead of feeling assaulted by a hectic schedule, I take a deep breath and visualize the love I want to show to the people around me, the gratitude I want to express, and the goals I’m working towards. The result is that I’m (hopefully) a little closer to the best version of myself and my actions are less reflexive, living with more intention in each moment.
*image: lean & meadow
So, here’s how it can look in action. Let’s say I’m at my desk, hammering through some important emails before I have to run out the door to a lunch meeting. One of my team members chooses that moment to tell me about what she did that weekend.
Old me: listens while typing and periodically inserting “mmhmms” and “cool’s!” feeling a little guilty that I’m hoping she’ll get the message that I’m in a HURRY and really can’t talk right now. The result is that she feels ignored, I feel bad, and my important emails probably sucked because I was distracted.
New me: Pause and think about my options and my priorities. Do I value my relationships above a clean inbox? Yep. Will the world end if I have to answer those emails later… or am a couple minutes late to my lunch meeting? Nope. So I close my laptop and take a few minutes to look my friend in the eye, engage and listen attentively, and then head out. The result is that I had an opportunity to communicate love to someone I care about, make her feel valued — and I feel a million times better after the encounter, too.
Of course I’m still a work in progress and definitely have times when I revert to the old model, but you get the idea of where I’m headed…
*image: shannon kirsten
I know, I know: we’re all crazy busy. But I really believe that carving out a small amount of time to get centered at the start of the day is something that can have incredible results in our lives. I’m at the beginning of a personal journey that will keep building on itself; the ability to stay present and act with more mindfulness will grow the more I practice. I’d love to hear from you guys on this — do you have any daily rituals that help you stay more present? Meditation, long walks, prayer, spending time with your kids or friends or pets, or a practice of gratitude? I’d love to hear about it in the comments so we can inspire each other. xo