I hate the phrase “I hate.....”. And yet I use it all the time. I do it without thinking most of the time. As a child I would get reprimanded for using the phrase. To skirt it I would say, “I highly dislike.....”. What a strong emotional response to something. To HATE it. And that is exactly what it is, an emotional response or reaction.
Since the first time I tried it, I hated meditation and savasana (corpse pose at the end of a yoga class). Why? I am an over-achiever and had this idea that when you meditate you still the mind. So I felt like a failure every time I laid or sat down to meditate. My mind races at about 1,000 miles/minute. And when I would try to still it - forget about it - it felt like it moved even faster. I hated feeling like a failure (see what I mean, I use “hate” all the time :-). So I stopped meditating. I still had to do savasana after classes (I even had to teach it!). But in my own practice I would fidgit. Or go use the bathroom. Or stare at the ceiling. Or try to create my to do list. I avoided it even if I was in the physical posture.
Cut to a few years later... I went to take a meditation class at a yoga studio. With all of the research coming out about how incredible mindfulness meditation is and with me being such a Nervous Nelly I wanted to try again. I was so anxious ridden that I would have bouts of irritable bowel syndrome (I had times I wouldn’t leave the house for fear of an ibs attack in public), panic attacks, heart palpitations, profuse sweating in certain situations, and so on and so forth.
It was so hard to sit there for FORTY-FIVE long minutes and try to keep my body still while bringing awareness to my busy busy anxious mind. Painful in some ways. But then somewhere past 1/2 way through the teacher said something that has totally shifted my relationship with meditating. He said something like, “Don’t try to find stillness in your mind. Your mind is built to think. That is what it does. It’s okay to have thoughts. What we are trying to do is to observe the thoughts. Try to observe them without passing judgement on them or yourself for having them. And when you realize you are thinking, bring your mind back to the breath.” This was revolutionary!!!!! Don’t try to stop my mind from thinking! And if it does think, I am not doing anything wrong!! Whoa, this was all too much.
Needless to say, I then felt I had permission to pull up to the mat, cushion, chair, bed, car seat, etc.... and try to close my eyes for 10 minutes to observe what was happening in my mind at that moment on that particular day. Because even though my mind is rushing around (even in the present, this is the case for me), I know where I am. I have learned to observe my mind without reacting to the thoughts that are coming in. And most importantly to me, between yoga and meditation, I have learned to cultivate my breath to calm myself down whenever I get anxious.
So I encourage you to take 10 minutes to meditate once a day. Does that sounds intimidating? How about 5 minutes? Maybe every other day? Point being start a practice. The mental clarity you gain, the sense of calm, the deeper sleep.... it’s worth the mere 5 to 10 minutes you take out of your day.
Have a great day! (Meditate and chances are greater that you will :-)