We so rarely take quality time to recharge ourselves. We are always so busy taking care of others. Family, friends, children, when is it time to fully take care of yourself? Mind, body and soul. Some of us take care of our body, through diet and exercise or regular massage. But just taking care of the body isn’t enough. What do you do for the mind and your soul? I think in the past, I have always looked at this question differently then I do today. I have always thought that in order to answer the question, what did you do for your mind, it meant you had to do something to challenge your brain. Like feeding it healthy food or weight lifting. So you read an educational book, watch less T.V. or challenge it in some other way. What if you gave your mind a break? Even for just five minutes a day, just like we do for our bodies with a massage? What would happen to our minds then? You let your body rest and recuperate with a massage. You let me help your muscles release and you leave with your body feeling better, relaxed. And while a lot of you nap on my table (YES! Love that!) I know some of you can not shut off that brain of yours. So you receive the body work but your brain is still chugging away. While nice, it doesn’t help your entire body, mind and soul does it?
When I was young, growing up in the 80’s, my parents started meditating. I remember they went to a weekend event in Tehachape, CA and my sister and I were forced to attend with them. I don’t remember much, but I do remember the instructor teaching everyone how to help your pain with meditation. I won’t go into the details of a child’s memory of this (ask me when I see you next time if you’d like. It is probably pretty funny to hear a child’s recollection of a meditation seminar). I never really “got” the point of meditation. I didn’t really understand how it could help me. But also, I was so uncomfortable practicing meditation. That word meditation was intimidating to me. I would think, I can’t meditate, I’m not good at it. I won’t do it right. I would see signs for meditation groups or classes and I would think, I’ll try it and then I would talk myself out of it because I didn’t think I would understand how to do it right, or I wouldn’t be good at it. I was curious but intimidated. But then I learned to let go. I realized that my meditation journey is mine and mine alone. There is no one who has the authority to tell me that I am going about this journey all wrong. And let me tell you, how unbelievably freeing it was to realize that! That I can meditate for myself, the way I want to, the way that helps me. And I believe in turn helps those around me.
As a lot of you know, I have been taking Aerial yoga for over a year now. And while it was love at first inversion (that’s a whole other blog)! I realized early on that I was going back for the meditation more then the yoga practice. I found that when I left, I felt joyful and grounded and I carried those feelings throughout my day. I saw in myself that I got upset less often, that if I was feeling stressed, I would breathe and instantly feel better. I lucked out and found an Anti-Gravity instructor that began our practice with breathing and mindfulness. I experienced deep relaxation by doing nothing but breathing and listening to her guidance. Now let me tell you there are a lot of days that I can not listen. My brain is going 100MPH and I can not pay attention. I am thinking about what is next, where I need to be, what needs to be done, I can’t keep my eyes shut, I can’t listen to the guided breathing segment. But then we do our yoga thing and she closes the class with some sound healing. At this point I am usually able to find some stillness and am finally able to let go. I used to beat myself up over not being able to be a perfect meditation student. But I have realized, that every day is a new day, a new journey. And no one is on my path but me. It is ok to have days where I can’t let go. But I allow myself these days, don’t beat myself up over it and get back to a yoga class later that week. I try to go 2-3 times a week. For me, meditation is what I need right here, right now. There is no right or wrong way to do it. I don’t do it the way others do. But I do what works for me. If my meditation style were to be “edited” by some meditation guru, would I pass? Maybe not. But what is important is that I found a benefit for myself. I found a way to let go that works for me. I am open to learning new things and I continue to learn. I do wish that I would find time to do it every day. But for now, I meditate in yoga, and on my own when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I use it as a tool when I need it.
I think everyone needs to find their own process, what works for them, what brings them peace and what they have time for. I like to practice meditation outside in the sunshine if I can. I usually start with some journaling in my positivity journal. Sometimes I have a writing prompt sometimes I just write about a joyful moment. I like to listen to happiness meditation music. Similar to what I play when I practice massage. I lay on a quilt that brings me joy (I made it for my son with my mother when he was a baby). I keep the souls of my feet in the grass, grounded to the earth. Palms lie open and up to the sky in a receiving position and I breathe. Deep belly breaths that fill my belly and lungs. Then I let my body relax by doing a body scan for areas that I am holding tension and let my mind shut off. Usually I have an intention that I say to myself, it helps me to focus on my practice. Lately I have been working with thinking the words, “I am” and inserting whatever word calls to me at that moment. For example, “I am joyful” on the inhale, and on the exhale, “I give joy”. I am and I give. Like I said, this is my personal process, what I have found that works for me.
I believe everyone needs to find their own process, their own way. Maybe you can start in the morning before you get out of bed. Sit up, close your eyes, take three deep breaths, filling you belly and lungs. Then either set an intention for the day, or try my “I am/I give” exercise. Repeat three times and end with a thought of gratitude. What are you grateful for upon waking up? Is it your breath, something you have going on that day, your family? It can be something as simple as a good nights sleep. Starting your day on such a positive note will bring you positivity and happiness throughout the day. Try it one day a week and see what it brings to you. Note any changes in how you handle stress or painful experiences. And always remember your journey is your own. Own it! Love and light and peace always.