Meditation: Your inner self craves it but your body wants to, well, do anything else. Most of us face this kind of mind-body disconnect when we’re beginning to build a meditation practice. Ironically, meditation itself is the perfect solution to help bridge that gap!
Meditation. Have you ever done it?
For years, I considered trying meditating, but I rejected it because I thought it would be too hard and boring. Skeptical of the practice, I believed meditation could work for other people — but not for me. My mind was too busy. My life was too fast paced. I was even worried that if I got deep into meditation, I’d lose my edge. A part of me liked my anxiety and the stress of the daily grind. It made me feel like I mattered, and I saw how it propelled me forward and helped me achieve.
This destructive pattern of thinking served me for a while until one day it didn’t. After I had a series of relentless (and public) anxiety attacks at work, I decided to take meditation seriously. I connected with an amazing teacher and got started.
To be honest, those first few weeks of meditating daily were hard. My meditations were filled with physical and emotional discomfort. I remember feeling itchy, fidgety and overwhelmed by my own negative self talk. I’d just pray that the meditation would end so I could go back to living my life. It was only when I started moving my body before my meditation sessions that I noticed a huge shift, and I could feel the vibrancy of the quiet. Because after I worked up a sweat and blew off steam, I was less antsy and more open to the experience of sitting and being present moment to moment.
Now I’m not saying that working out first made my meditations blissful — I still had tough emotions and painful thoughts bubble up. But here’s the thing: Because I had just completed an incredible workout and moved my body, I felt more confident in myself and more resilient. It became easier for me to stop trying to control my thoughts and instead let myself notice and feel whatever was showing up. And because I let myself feel all of it even when it wasn’t comfortable, I was then able to let it flow through me. This is where I gained clarity and experienced real healing and growth.
So if you’ve tried to meditate before and failed — or if you’re curious to try, but you’re not sure how to get started — let me help you! Here are a few things I wish I knew before I began…
A little movement goes a long way. You may not always have time to do a full-blown workout before you meditate (like my video!). If that’s the case, just do a few of your favorite yoga poses to get your blood flowing and the endorphins going. Breathe deeply in child’s pose. Take some side-body stretches. Bust out some squats. A little movement goes a long way and can completely change your experience for the better.
You don’t need to have perfect posture… to meditate effectively. What matters to me is that you’re comfortable. You’re welcome to sit in a chair so your back is supported or you can even lie all the way down on a yoga mat or your couch as you’re easing into meditation.
notice your thoughts. The goal of meditation is not to clear your mind of thoughts. Thoughts will come up during your practice. When this happens, it’s perfectly fine. Simply notice the thought without judging it as good or bad. Then gently guide your attention back to your point of focus, like your breath or whatever guided meditation you’re listening to. I don’t care if you have 100 million thoughts during a five-minute meditation. What I care about is the return.
Be kind. You will notice that the mind likes to automatically judge your thoughts even though that’s not your intention. When this happens, it’s also perfectly fine. Then your practice becomes meeting your judgements with kindness and not getting swept up in judging your judgements.
Make space. When you meditate, you’re not trying to achieve a certain state of being. If you don’t feel calm, it’s ok. Instead of panicking and becoming frustrated, can you make space for whatever is showing up for you in the moment and breathe into it? The discomfort you’re feeling likely has something to teach or show you.
Ready to give this a try? I’m excited to share my Back Body Burn + Loving Kindness Meditation with you. I filmed it with smoothie queen and recipe developer/wellness blogger Alison Wu. I hope you love it!
Check out the video above, and another heart-focused moving meditation from Kait here.