Finding my zen
Today marks day 30 of my meditation journey. That’s right. Thirty straight days of sitting on my cushion, and taking 10 minutes of the day to rest my mind. If you had asked me at the beginning of the year if I thought I would be meditating I’d probably say no. However, life, as we all know, decided to throw me some curve-balls. Shocker.
It all started about four months ago just after I got engaged. I’ve always had a hard time turning off my brain. Thoughts would ping thorough my mind in the most arbitrary fashion. One moment I’d be thinking about my cats, then the wedding, and finally how roasting coffee beans worked. You get it. I’m all over the place. Now with one of the most important days of my life quickly approaching, I wanted to make sure I was concentrating on our vows and not being distracted by my racing thoughts from the butterflies that will inevitably be in my stomach.
The next few weeks while investigating a solution, a buzzword kept popping up on the various blogs, podcasts, and books, meditation. This word seemed to be following me everywhere so I decided to start looking into it. The problem with googling “meditation” is weeding through the vast amounts of content. Some sites listed tons of tips on how to do it, others talked about the history, and some literally made me feel overwhelmed by technical terms that sounded more like a sneeze than anything. Joking aside, I couldn’t find something that really resonated with me the way I hoped it would. I was desperately curious, but I needed someone to hold my hand during the process.
After my not so “enlightening” research, I let the idea fall to the wayside. I did try a few half-assed attempts at sitting on my bed, timer set, and just breathing, but I found myself distracted and more frustrated at the end or straight up falling asleep (that happened a lot). I just figured meditation wasn’t for me. Then one night my brain went into crisis mode.
Without going into too much detail about my self vs self mental battles (I’ll save that for a later post), one of these episodes is what lead to my commitment. One night after indulging in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream the usual feeling of overwhelming fullness settled in. I was never proud of the spoon hitting the bottom, but something different accompanied the dairy-fueled coma. Self-loathing. Angered thoughts went rushing through my head. Why did you do that? You’re getting fatter for this. Are you happy now? How do you have no self control? My brain was an open battle ground of my self-esteem.
It was like my mind was generating every nasty thought one could have about themselves, but then it proposed a wicked solution. You could go make yourself throw up. Then the calories would be gone, and the fullness would be too. This scared me. A lot. What worried me more though was the fact I was starting to see the logic. Maybe I would feel better if I just purged my body of the thing that was making it ill. I sat in bed staring at the bathroom door wrestling between the pros and cons.
After what seemed like hours, I finally came to the conclusion that this was a very fine line I was treading, and it was not one I needed to cross, or wanted to. I pushed the thought off a metaphorical bridge and decided I really needed a tool to keep these tormenting ideas at bay. I love myself too much to surrender. So I dove into podcast after podcast about self-love and mental clarity. Meditation. There was that word again. I decided to give it a second chance, but this time with much more fuel behind the fire.
I can’t remember where, but Dan Harris’s 10% Happier popped up on my radar. It had wonderful reviews so I went on Amazon and bought a copy. I highly recommend the book to anyone that wants to meditate, but not necessarily for the spiritual side of things. I wanted to meditate for the mental benefits, not to be spiritually enlightened. After I finished the book, I felt better “prepared” for how to accomplish my goal of silencing the demons in my head, but something was still missing. I was getting better at sitting, breathing, and being more present, but the dots were’t connecting fully. I wanted to expand my practice more and develop more techniques for different life situations. The answer I found? Headspace, the app. Ever since I bought my subscription and committed to ten minutes a day, I’ve felt so much better and haven’t had any extreme episodes of nasty feelings. My mind is finding better ways to cope when I’m having a bad day, and I feel like I can focus better daily. I’m so thankful for what this has done for me. Now I can tackle new life challenges with a clearer mind and less impulsively.
Stay tuned for a post about resources I’ve used and questions I get from my friends and family! If you have a question, comment below!!