Meditation Tips and Tricks
When Life is a bit Overwhelming
I had so much fun with Kate and Angela over on the MarketHER podcast last week! You can see the video version of our interview HERE.
Below, I expanded on the tips I had created for the interview - enjoy!
Don’t treat mindfulness as a “self-fix” tool.
Sometimes we get interested in mindfulness and meditation because we aren’t doing very well; maybe it’s stress, anxiety, or general dissatisfaction with life. Those are completely normal reasons to look for change!
However, that pressure to find change can sometimes result in an approach that’s heavily focused on achievement….and when we start using mindfulness techniques as a way to get from A to B more quickly, we miss out on the point of practicing them in the first place.
As soon as you find that you’re trying to “fix” yourself by being mindful, practicing meditation, or seeking awareness, you know you’re on the wrong track. This is an opportunity to notice yourself and what is - NOT judge or change yourself.
What it would mean for you to experience loving and truly seeing who you ARE, and not just who you are trying to force yourself to become?
Practice in ways that resonate with who you naturally are.
Sometimes we refuse to even try something because we have this image of it being something that is really “other” than us – out of reach, unattainable, alien.
Or we look at an end goal that the true, life-long practitioners seem to have reached, tell ourselves we’ll never be like that, and move on.
I understand that, but I would encourage you with this: there is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness or meditation. The only standard is your own experience. If something doesn’t feel right for you, then you should find a different way. If something feels really good and has a positive impact, then carry on!
My first experiences with mediating were not what you imagine (assuming you imagine the lotus pose, legs cross, mind clear, room silent). That was WAY too much of a stretch for me. Instead, I started while I was walking (something I enjoyed and was already doing). Instead of rehashing negative interactions , stressing about ALL the things, or jumping on a phone call (or podcast!), I would spend the first 5 minutes just breathing and listening to my footsteps.
Breath and steps. It wasn’t an “empty” mind, but there was no input, no negativity, no stress. The amount of time I spent doing this continued to increase and grow – not because I felt like I had to achieve a certain amount of time, but because it felt really really good and was improving my quality of life in a tangible, positive way.
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Try a mantra or two!
I never found the idea of looking into a mirror and repeating things to myself appealing. That preference has nothing to do with how effective and impactful that practice is for some people, and it doesn’t mean I’ll never give it a try myself. It’s just when I hear “mantra”, that’s where my mind goes, and I feel like I’m not really interested in doing that.
Once I opened up to the idea of things having more flexibility, and after my counselor encouraged me to try some walking mantras, I realized that I really like using them, though!
Having a quiet mind is really, really hard, especially if you tend towards stress or have a lot going on in life. Taking my mind from a hundred miles an hour to nothing wasn’t going to happen because I had “decided” to meditate.
Mantras were the perfect middle ground - they took up enough space to keep the other things at bay, while also being calming, empowering, and positive. I found that pairing a mantra with a walk could keep me in a stress-free state of quiet focus for an hour or more (I love to walk!) once I started practicing.
Imagine an hour (or even 10 minutes) with nothing but calming, peaceful thoughts flowing through your brain!
Allow yourself to see yourself.
Too often our perception of ourselves isn’t really our own. Instead, it’s funneled through everything we THINK we need to be or should be. We weight our triumphs and disappointments against how other people will perceive them instead of the way we personally view them.
This tendency to see ourselves as others see us can block our ability to even identify what we truly like, enjoy, and appreciate about ourselves.
I realized during meditation that I often try to force myself to be a certain way (or to be perceived a certain way by others). Instead of accepting myself for who I am, I’m really quick to try and force something else into being - a way of feeling, responding, or appearing.
Meditation (my mantra walking, really) was the first time I let myself sit with the reality of how I felt without trying to change it. Powerful!
There were things about my life that I realized I wanted to change – no one else saw them as a problem, but I knew that for ME, they weren’t ideal.
There were things I wanted to cultivate as well – other people may not love the changes, but that’s okay because this wasn’t about them.
This wasn’t about fixing myself (although it can feel like you’re walking that line!). It was about noticing who I actually am, apart from other people’s prying eyes, and choosing how I wanted to most honor that version of myself.
Get some help from someone who “gets” you.
I was curious at the beginning - but NOT looking for a “woo woo” all-encompassing experience. I just wanted to calm things down in my head!
If you’re curious (or on the fence) abut mindfulness, it’s okay to NOT choose something that doesn’t feel like a great fit for you.
In my case, working with a trained counselor who had a lot of respect for meditation and mindfulness (but who never pushed that at me) was what I needed. She was completely open to helping me, but never made me feel like I “had to” meditate.
At the end of the day, I think that becoming more mindful, aware, and meditative is something you need to want for yourself, not something to add to your To-Do list to impress someone else.
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