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.

*image: kara rosenlund via domino

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

*image: @elsas_wholesomelife

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Comments (11)
  1. 1
    Kat September 19, 2016 at 6:27 am

    A lovely post and one that speaks to me! I wake up early, do some stretching exercises and then immediately take my Yorkie out for a leisurely stroll ! We both enjoy the walk and that quiet wonderful time of morning when nobody else is around. I take that time to gather up my thoughts for the day, plan my day, offer up some gratitude and talk myself through any issues that may be weighing on my mind. On the rare days we are unable to get out for our walk due to super nasty weather – I really do notice the difference as I lack a peace throughout the day that my early morning walk provides to me – it centres me and starts my day off well! That is my ritual!

    • Camille Styles September 19, 2016 at 6:39 am

      I love this Kat – what a lovely way to start your day with fresh air, quiet, sunshine and a little exercise — and best of all, time to think and gather your thoughts. Thanks for the inspiration!

      • Kat September 19, 2016 at 7:09 am

        Luv your blog! Happy Day to you! By the way, I am KatMagicPhotography on Instagram.

  2. 2
    Blush & Pearls September 19, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Good tips – I tend to get nervous very quickly so stopping to think about things is very important to ensure I don’t get myself worked up over the little things.

  3. 3
    M September 19, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Thank you for writing about this, Camille! Meditation was a big part of my training when I studied yoga some 10 years ago… but I will admit that it really and truly has been a “practice” since then. One point I’d like to add is that it’s not meant to be perfect, hence the word “practice” (thanks for using that word in your post!) – even with this length of time that I’ve been at it. There have been many, many times when my thoughts kept buzzing around but I reminded myself to focus back on my breathing. For those trying it out for the first time, it’s important to not get hung up on the idea of perfection or how it’s “supposed to be”… instead, just be, and focus awareness/attention back on breathing.
    The other point I’d like to make is that any amount/length of time is ok – a little bit is better than nothing! Sometimes my practice can range from 5-10 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the day. Sometimes it’s all at once and at other times it’s divided into am/pm. And, it can be done anywhere – it can even be a moving meditation! I find that when I’m not practicing yoga asanas, swimming or walking is a moving meditation for me. For others, knitting or painting, etc may be a form of moving meditation.
    Am I calm 100% of the time? Absolutely not, and I don’t think human beings are expected to be… life happens! But meditation helps me find that state when life is chaotic, even if it’s just for a few minutes so that I can take a deep breath and respond calmly/thoughtfully to another person, for example. I can so relate to what you wrote: “…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.” Yes!
    The other interesting thing about meditation is that there is more and more research on it within the medical field, and it’s being recognized by Western medicine – maybe not so widely yet, but it seems that there is growing evidence for the positive effects of meditation on stress and other variables.

  4. 4
    Marina September 19, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Such a great post, Camille. I am inspired by your quest to be more ‘in the now’ and truly enjoy and value what is in front of you. Good point that prayer can be one the most meaningful forms of meditation.

  5. 5
    Lisa Chase September 19, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Meditation is such an amazing practice and one I need to devote more time to. I spent just 5 minutes with my eyes closed after my morning run today and I felt so grateful and grounded afterward. I love hearing how it’s changing your life as well!

  6. 6
    npharney September 23, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Love this so much. I really identify with the feeling that you’re on autopilot, especially on a morning for me where I can move around a bit like a zombie for a good couple of hours. Meditation has been a real game changer in my evening routine, it’s really helped with my anxiety, maybes moving it earlier in the day would help break up some of my bad habits though.

    – Natalie

  7. 7
    rae tashman (@lovefromberlin) September 24, 2016 at 7:52 am

    I love the idea of incorporating meditation into one’s daily practice. I keep meaning to try to start my day and end my day with 10 minutes of some kind of practice – meditation in the morning and yoga in the evening – but I haven’t made it a regular thing yet! Will be aiming to make this a normal practice in the coming weeks. Thanks for a great and motivational post!

    Rae | Love from Berlin/

  8. 8
    annapuddle September 25, 2016 at 3:50 am

    Thanks a lot for sharing! I have been meditating every day for the last couple of months, and I agree that it helps. A lot! And if I had a stressful day I meditate in the evening as well.

  9. 9
    Isha September 25, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Amazing blog, left me inspired.