Hi friends. I want to talk a bit about the importance of a meditation practice. So, if you know me, you hear me talk about meditation all the time. If you follow me on social media, you see me sharing my practice, and you see me imploring you to join me. I don’t always get the biggest response or engagement, but the calling to share never stops. And I get the occasional messages of gratitude for the things I share, which are honestly my favorite kind of messages to receive. Can you tell that I have a serious passion for sharing this practice with the world? :)
I’m sure many of you have an idea of what meditation is. Whether you practice or not, you probably have some sort of understanding of what it looks like (or at least you think you do). But I also know that many of you probably resist actually giving it a try for whatever reason. Maybe you think you “aren’t good at meditation” or that you can’t sit still or that your mind is too busy or maybe you don’t have the time or that it’s some weird, woo-woo, hippie stuff that is just too out there for you to believe in.
Truthfully, I think the practice is a lot more simple than most people think. For me, the goal of meditation is really just to arrive in the present moment. Because right here, right now there are no worries. There are no regrets. When you truly reside in your body, in your breath, in the now moment, you align with your Self. And your Self is not your thoughts or your feelings. Your Self is pure bliss. Without all the stories that are intertwined with who you think you are and who you think your experiences have shaped you to be. Yes, of course, those things are all valid and a part of the you that carries you through life. You are a human after all, so the human experience is real and it’s complicated.
As humans, difficult things happen. Little things, and really, really big things. They happen. To all of us. I’m in no way saying that meditation will erase all suffering. It’s not about that. It’s more about accepting what is. And that doesn’t mean that you are giving up or giving in to the circumstances in your life that you may have the power to evolve. It doesn’t mean that you are agreeing that the bad things happening to you are okay or deserved. You are not condoning the negative circumstances in your life. It just means that you are giving yourself permission to rest from the worry. To take a pause, to allow what IS to just be.
When we resist our life, the "good" and the "bad," suffering increases. So no matter how much struggle and adversity you are facing in your life, the more you resist and try to control your circumstances, the more suffering you will experience. When you practice accepting your circumstances, when you let go of the need for control, you ease the suffering. The struggle may continue, but your reaction to the struggle will not be causing you additional harm.
The practice of meditation allows you to be at peace with what is. To totally accept your Self and your life as it is, in each moment. Giving you the space and the clarity to move forward however you see fit. To take care of yourself and those around you. To level the playing field, in a way, so that you are able to face your life and your circumstances with a clear, focused mind. So that you are able to stand tall in your truth and make the necessary changes in your life and the world.
For me, in times of anxiety and stress, it’s really helpful to remind myself that at our core, our truest Self is at total peace. That is why we meditate. To get a glimpse of that peaceful Self. To recognize the perfect nature of our being, even if just for a moment. To breathe ourselves inward to meet our Divine, face to face. To sit with our innate peace. To simply exist. Here and now. And if the word Divine irks you, I get it. Replace it with authentic self or greatest potential. The best version of yourself. That’s the goal… to get closer and closer to that Self. Because that’s the version of you who is going to live your best life! Who doesn’t want that, right? Getting to know yourself is the first step to doing that, and I think the present moment is the perfect vehicle to get you there.
Fortunately, we all have access to the present moment. Once we realize that we too can reach that state of being, that presence and that recognition of our best self, it can be a great tool to have when we get caught up in the worries and the regrets and the fears that come with being human. We always have our practice to remind us of our true nature. Of the Divine peace that belongs to us. Of our potential.
Meditation allows us to practice falling in love with the simplicity of presence and peace so that we may work to create that same kind of world around us in our waking, daily life. And if all of that is just too much for you, then just let meditation be a time to slow down and chill. In today’s world, we can all use that.
Conscious breathing and meditation is scientifically proven to calm the nervous system. So, let that be your why.
Listen, we don’t all have to meditate for the same reason. But meditation really can be helpful for all of us. If science and statistics are your thing, awesome! That’s not my preferred method, so that’s why I’m not diving deep into that here, but the information is out there if you’re into doing some research.
For me, I’m all about the personal experience. Trying things out to see how they work for me. So, that’s the space from which I share, and I can honestly say that meditation has changed my life. I still struggle with anxiety... often. But when I am consistent with my practice, I am better able to soothe myself in times of stress and overwhelm. I have the tools to take care of myself. I have the sacred space that I created within myself to retreat to at any time.
So, let’s talk about a few reasons that some of you are resisting the practice.
First up: time. Many of you have very busy lives. I get it. The idea of adding anything into your schedule can be super daunting. But meditation really can fit whatever mold you and your life need it to. Although I do believe a consistent practice is important, this can look like five minutes a day if that’s all you have. Even three minutes! Start there. Everyone has five minutes to spare - if not, wake up five minutes earlier or cut down on your social media time. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, just a few minutes a day to prioritize your well being.
Next up: you think you aren’t good at meditation, that you can’t sit still, or that your mind is too busy. First of all, meditation is not really something that you master. It’s not something that you are good at or not good at. It’s just a practice. It’s a ritual or a habit that you incorporate into your life - like brushing your teeth! You don’t judge your ability to brush your teeth, right? It’s just part of your routine. Meditation isn’t a competition. And in terms of busy minds… yes. We all have busy minds. That’s the nature of the society we live in. That’s part of the reason we meditate. To give our mind a little break.
Many people think that meditation means clearing your mind of all thought, and of course that’s super intimidating. It sounds impossible. And it probably is for most of us. Luckily, that’s not what meditation is. In my opinion, like I mentioned before, meditation is the practice of coming into the present moment. This looks different from person to person, depending on how you choose to practice or what works best for you, and there are many techniques out there. Usually, I guide people to choose a single point of focus, like the breath. So in that case, you practice bringing your awareness to your breath, no matter what else is happening. No matter what is happening in your outer world and no matter what thoughts and feelings are moving through your inner world. We’re not trying to stop anything from happening. We're not trying to change how we feel. We’re just redirecting our focus. We’re practicing not becoming attached to anything that we are experiencing, inside or outside of ourselves.
Imagine sitting on a bench on the side of a busy street. On the other side of the street, directly across from you, is a beautiful tree. Traffic is very heavy. It is passing through your vision constantly. There’s lots of noise. There’s wind. There are big trucks and small bicycles. The street is busy. It can easily be distracting. But you have trained your focus to rest on the tree. When your awareness strays to something passing on the street, you gently remind yourself to bring your focus back to the tree. Over and over again. This is the same with meditation, except the tree is your chosen point of focus, like the breath, and the traffic on the street is your thoughts, your feelings, and any other distractions in your space.
Some days will be more difficult than others, but likely over time, and with lots of practice, it will become easier to shift your awareness back to the present moment. You’ll also get to know yourself better. You’ll become better acquainted with your mind and its patterns. The types of thoughts that are present. The types of feelings that often accompany certain thoughts. Meditation allows you to become an observer of your own nature.
But what if you can’t sit still? Now, I would challenge you to give stillness a try anyway. It really may do you some good to reshape your patterns and give yourself permission to rest. So, try it. But I also know that some people actually get more anxious when trying to sit still and meditate. If that sounds like you, after you actually tried sitting in stillness a few times, then just simply take your meditation on the move. My favorite way to do this is by going on a walk. The concept is the same, you are still practicing coming into the present moment, you are just walking instead of sitting. Maybe this is running for you, or swimming, or biking.
There really are so many different techniques to try, and I can go into more details in future episodes if you’d like. But the point I’m trying to make here is that meditation really can be made to work for anyone.
Finally, the last reason you may be resisting: it’s too weird, woo-woo, hippie, out there for you. This is simply one interpretation of the practice. I’ll be honest, I’ve presented my personal practice alongside images of crystals and oracle cards and incense. Maybe this is the main representation you’ve seen - causing you to think that because you’re not into that stuff, meditation isn’t for you. But that stuff is all optional. This is a practice that is 100% customizable. It can be as simple as you’d like. It doesn’t require anything but YOU. All that other stuff is just fun to play with for some people, and it can be really meaningful and used to enhance the power of the practice for others. But if that’s not your thing, then forget about it. It’s not necessary. This is a practice all about you. You can do whatever you need to in order to make it fit your life. Even if that’s just three minutes of sitting alone. There are no prerequisites to this practice. As humans, it’s not always easy - sometimes it can be really, really hard - but in terms of the how, it really can be that simple.
If you’d like to have a practice in your toolbelt to help calm you in times of stress and anxiety, give it a try. Or if you’re just looking for a way to spend some quality time with yourself and become more aware of what makes you you so that you can show the world your best self, meditation is a great place to start.
I have tons of ideas of how to fit this practice into your life and how you can really get the most out of it, so if you have any questions on how to get started, please feel free to reach out. I plan to share more information on different meditation techniques in the future, including plenty of guided meditations on my podcast Unearth Your Magic. In the meantime, if you’d like to get started, please feel free to reach out with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @nicol.eliz.