Learning Something New

Meditation has always intimidated me. I used to think it was mainly for monks or people deeply devoted to yoga. I thought there was one correct way to do it, and that it involved hours of silence and sitting still. I wouldn’t be good at either.

I’d heard that meditation could help lower high blood pressure and relieve stress and anxiety, all of which I have. But I wondered if there was some trick, maybe a secret meditation code, that I would never be privy to. So for years, I never attempted it.

Until now.

I’ve been working on mindfulness and practicing deep breathing techniques. The next logical step for me is meditation. I did some research and learned that it isn’t as mysterious as I once believed. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort in order to reap the benefits.

It can be as simple as sitting in a chair in a quiet room for five minutes, counting your inhales and exhales. Or going for a walk, deep breathing, and concentrating on the movement of your body.

My daughters said to check out the app, Headspace. The trial period is free, so I decided to give it a shot. One evening I went into our family room and settledΒ  in for my first ten minute session. I turned off the lights and sat on the floor in a comfortable position. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the man’s voice on the app (which sounds kind and soothing), instructing me to breathe deep and slow.

It was going well for the first few minutes. That is, until our dog walked into the room. HeΒ  licked my face and nudged my arm with his nose so I’d pet him. He plopped right next to me and rolled over, wanting his tummy scratched. Thirty seconds later, my husband barged in and wondered what time I wanted to watch TV. I guess I should’ve warned both of them I was unavailable for ten minutes.

The next couple of sessions went better. But my problem was trying to keep my head clear. It felt like a hundred thoughts constantly invaded my quiet time. What should I make for dinner? I forgot to call Mom. I need to transfer money to that other account. What movie do I want to see this weekend? My mind goes a million miles a minute. It’s hard to turn it off on demand.

This is where the man on the Headspace app helped me. He said if your mind wanders, it’s okay. Let it wander. Don’t fight the random thoughts.

There was one explanation I really liked. He said to pretend you’re on a street corner watching cars go by. Each of those cars is a thought. You can’t possibly stop them from coming. Just be still and watch them drive past. The cars (thoughts) come. And they go. Let them. Then get back to counting your breaths.

Like any new task, meditation takes practice. Some days I have more concentration than others. But that’s okay. Every day I look forward to that calm, zen feeling that washes over me.

Meditation empowers me. I’m in control of my thoughts, my breathing, my anxiety.

Even when my dog comes into the room.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

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83 thoughts on “Learning Something New

  1. Its awesome how a lot of people are moving towards Yoga πŸ™‚ Meditation and yoga are food for my soul. Have you been to Rishikesh in India? It is the YOGA capital of the World and has number of ashrams for meditation and yoga.
    Read my blog on it here – https://himadri7.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/rishikesh-is-not-just-about-rafting/

    Do visit when you have the chance, you’d love it! Much love from India. Namaste πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I agree, and I’m glad I am finding joy in it. I find the more I do it, the more I miss it on days I don’t. Even just 10minutes, it’s my deep calming time. So glad you like the car analogy… that has helped me a lot! Enjoy the weekend🌷

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  2. Thank you for this post. I’ve been (trying to) meditate daily, in the mornings before I start my day. Most days I’m good. Some days I find I oversleep, or need to get working on a project, or any of the bazillion reasons I can find to not stay with this routine. But when I DO meditate and do my gratitude ritual, my day goes smoother and I have a much better attitude. I’ve also been looking at returning to yoga after a ten year break from it.
    Thanks for the little prod to stay on track!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for your nice comment. I’m the same as you… I can find a million reasons not to meditate, I’m too anxious to start my day and get going with what I have to do. But I realize that meditation is probably the best way to start the day. I’ve been trying it at night, after the dinner dishes are done. That way, I feel like I really can relax. But I’ll change it up and try it at different times. I’m glad to hear that meditation helps you, your day, and your attitude. Those are wonderful benefits! I’ve also been looking at returning to yoga. I took a 5-10yr break, and want to get back to it. I need to break out of my shell and get to a yoga class! πŸ™‚

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  3. Pingback: Reblog – Reflections on meditation | Embracing Life Tribe

  4. Yes! I totally relate to having all those thoughts flooding in as soon as I try and meditate, but a friend taught me a similar way to think about it – imagine sitting by a stream and the thoughts are leaves falling into the stream and they get swept away in the current and you just watch them go by. I really like this car one though, my thoughts are definitely more like rushing cars in traffic than peaceful leaves!! I always thought that I wouldn’t be able to meditate because I couldn’t seem to stop the thoughts, but then I learnt it wasn’t about stopping the thoughts, more about not engaging with them. Maybe one day with practice the thoughts will zoom by without me even noticing them. πŸ™‚

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    • Exactly!! I love the leaves in the stream analogy too. That sounds more peaceful to me, but yes, my thoughts are more like cars zooming by. You said it perfectly, that it isn’t about stopping the thoughts, it’s about engaging with them. I’m going to remember that πŸ™‚ And I do think it takes a lot of practice to stay calm and allow those thoughts to wiz, or float by. I’m trying πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you for that. Very good advice! Sometimes I find it frustrating, and I’m trying to let it go. I’m getting better at getting refocused, back on my breathing. But sometimes it’s not that easy. Those thoughts don’t want to stop πŸ™‚

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      • not i i’m a great meditator or i do it on a regular basis(Yah, right), but i’ll pass along some that i found helpful. when i first started doing any meditation, regaining focus was an aggressive, “hey, get back here!” then i went to some drop in meditation class and the teacher suggested that we visualize the meandering thought as a butterfly; then, just watch the butterfly flutter away. i found to be a lot less jarring.

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  5. I have not done meditation in the yoga way. I have found it helpful to find a quiet place and remind myself to “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. I know for me it helps clear my mind, still my heart and soothes my soul to surrender to God, be still and realize that I do not have to be in control of everything.

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    • I love this, thanks for this comment. What a wonderful feeling that is. I often think that when I pray and am still, that is a form of meditation. My breath slows, and as you said, I surrender myself, and my problems to God. That soothes me.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your process of practicing meditation. When I first set aside time for prayer, the same thing – all the ‘to do’ list kept flooding into my thought. I had a priest as my language student when I was in Hong Kong. He described how he meditated. I took classes on centering, meditation, yoga. It takes practice. It’s getting easier and faster to focus. As soon as I put my index finger on my forehead between my eyebrows, I could draw my attention in and let things fade away during that time. When doing yoga, under the instructor coaching, it’s easier to follow, leave all the worries behind for that moment and just relax. Great post you have here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I really appreciate your comment and insight. It’s so interesting! I like the idea of putting your finger on your forehead to get centered and a reminder to focus. I didn’t think about this much before, but I also need to focus more when I pray. I start my prayer, and my thoughts go elsewhere. Then I fall asleep, with never finishing my prayer. You motivate and inspire me to continue with meditation (and getting back to yoga). Again, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s interesting. I haven’t heard of that happening, but I can see how it could. The mind is in almost a different place during meditation. Glad it wasn’t scary for you. Sounds like it would be to me. That’s a symptom of panic attacks that I’ve experienced (out of body feelings), and it’s so scary to me. Thanks for your comment!

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  7. I enjoyed reading your blog and the great comments that followed. As somebody trying to get in to meditation on a regular basis as a way of calming my inner and somewhat irrational thoughts I really must try and find a regular spot and devote some time to this practice. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for reading. I feel similar, for the past couple of years I’ve wanted to try meditation. I finally got to the point where I didn’t want to put it off any longer. I asked myself what was I afraid of and why wasn’t I committing to it? I just didn’t know where to begin. That’s when I found the app (I’m sure there are other good ones out there), and then it sounded simpler, not as intimidating. I’m still trying to figure out the best place and time of day for me to meditate. But I’m glad I started, and feel excited to do more. Sometimes starting is the hardest part. Best of luck to you with it. I hope you find it calming, centering, and peaceful πŸ™‚

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  8. Your approach to meditation sounds great! I love short, guided meditations like those on Headspace. One of the insights that I have learned along the way that I really liked was, “A single breath, breathed mindfully, is meditative.” That’s what I remind myself of when it feels like I just can’t settle down for even five or ten minutes. My cat also loves to interrupt me as soon as I plop down on the floor. I worked with a book called “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion,” and the author, who is a psychologist, made a point once that for people who struggle with giving and receiving loving-kindness (a type of meditative practice), perhaps meditating with a pet might help. Well, I figured if he was recommending meditating with a pet, then I shouldn’t be so upset when the cat “interrupts” me. Instead, I use the interruption as an opportunity to practice mindfulness, feeling his soft fur, and self-compassion, experiencing his unconditional affection for me and my affection for him.

    Sounds like you are well on your way to greater mindfulness and awareness. Reading this post put a big smile on my face! πŸ˜€ (It also reminded me of the benefits of a regular meditative practice, which I’ve been a bit lax with lately, so thank you!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, your comment made me smile! Especially the part about your cat. I love that. I’m going to remember that next time my dog walks in and wants attention when I’m meditating (seems to keep happening). Once I start petting him, he calms down, so that’s actually soothing to me. I also like what you said about a single breath, breathed mindfully, is meditative. So true. Because that mindful breath can be while you’re walking in a crowd of people, on a bus, subway, etc. That’s what I’ve realized and I like… that to meditate, you don’t have to be in a zen garden or completely silent place. It really can be anywhere. (although I try to find a quiet, comfortable spot most times). Thanks for your insight, Lulu. Have a lovely week ahead! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hope you have a lovely week, too! You inspired me to get back to my own meditation practice yesterday. Hopefully I can keep at it through the busy week ahead, but I will try to make even the little breaths count and take what I can get! 😊

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  9. I love this post! I have gotten into mediation / yoga within the last few years, and it’s amazing how much breathing can help calm anxiety. I encourage you to check out the app InsightTimer, too. I love them both!

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  10. Pingback: Post of Note – Week 5 – Flying Through Water

  11. I can relate to this so much … thoughts that race at a hundred miles an hour. So hard to turn them off. I’ve done meditation on and off for a few years, my problem is discipline and sticking to it. Something always seems to get in the way but your post is a good reminder that I need to get back into it. Thanks Jenny. Fantastic post 😊

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  12. I have never thought about the possibility of mediation. Can you do this laying down as well or should you be sitting down? Me of course would pet the dog if it was there. LOL very interesting. Great word descriptions, making each car a thought that passes you by. Really liked how you talked about that. -Bruce

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    • Thank you Bruce. It’s funny you asked about laying down while meditating. Last night I started my 10min. meditation and was uncomfortable sitting on the floor. I moved to a chair and was still uncomfortable. My legs were tight and my back was sore. I wanted to lay down, but the man on the app did say to sit in a comfortable position. But I thought, I’m sure it’ll still work if I lay down. I got comfortable on the floor, laying down, and did the meditation exercise. It was great. I was so relaxed by the end. I truly think you can practice meditation anywhere, anytime. Doesn’t have to be one particular place or way. Whatever works for you is fine!

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  13. I haven’t done much meditation because my mind is too busy – but yoga works, because I need to focus on the pose and the pose ONLY or I fall over. Thud. LOL It’s a start. And I figured out headstands so there’s that πŸ™‚

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  14. I have wanted to try meditation for quite some time now, but my wandering thoughts have always intimidated me. Thank you for writing about this. I like the analogy of standing on a street corner. I will have to remember that! πŸ™‚

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