We are very much alike on the inside. We all internalize and present our emotions differently, but we all have similar internal struggles. We all want to feel good inside. Most of us look outward to fulfill our needs. We look for recognition and validation through how other people react to us. Then when our expectations from that other person are not met, we have someone to blame other than ourselves. Our minds may be small and closed-we see through the same “eyes” over an over, and hold onto the same judgments that have been ingrained in our brain.
Looking inward…turning inward is very difficult because it means feeling very uncomfortable. It means you have to be alone with yourself, and learn to like what you feel. We live in a harsh world, and years of negative experiences takes a toll on us. There is no one to blame for the strong emotions that are experienced, even though we want to blame others. However, facing these emotions facilitates inward healing. You will no longer have that need to justify love for yourself by how others perceive you. Once you start to focus on the good in yourself, you will begin to see more of the good in those around you. You will begin to judge less.
This is where meditation comes in…
The act of “meditation” seems so out of reach to many of us. Where on earth would I find the time for that? How could I ever quiet the chatter that goes on in my mind? You may even think of it as nonsense, or foolishness. Why on earth would someone want to just sit there and be still? How can I not think? I have heard many people say “I’m too much of a Type A personality to meditate” or “I can’t get my mind to turn off”
Try to just imagine for a second being able to center, and focus. Try to imagine moving to a quiet place in your mind. How awesome would it be to feel “high” and happy without stimulation, or materialistic distraction? Imagine being able to connect with yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin. Imagine being able to view the world through a new set of eyes-ones that don’t internalize the world in quite the same way as before. To me, meditating is about being able to sit and feel, to process, and to let go. It is about being in the moment, and taking in what that moment has to offer. It is about connecting with yourself, and forgiving yourself. It is about healing, creating self love and self respect. It is in this space where you may begin to experience true happiness. Through meditating, we can “face our demons” so to speak.
Most people who meet me think that I am very laid back and quiet. I’ve been told that I am a calming presence and that I seem easy going. I am slowly getting there, However, people who really know me know that I am actually very intense. I am usually stiff and rigid, holding everything inside myself. I am an extremely “Type A” person. I have always been at least a ½ hour early for every appointment. I’ve always written lists, adhered to schedules, worried about pointless things. My mind would focus on the past…or worry about the future. I set very high standards for myself, and get disappointed with myself very easily. In the past I have always cared about how other people perceive me, yet I was not fulfilling my own desires. I always assumed I was not fit for meditation of any kind, because my mind just could not be quieted. It was just not possible or for me. I found my “happy place” through music and through exercising…through long drives and through solitary hikes.
Little did I know…I was meditating during these activities!
Anytime the mind is quiet (NOT empty, just quiet), and focused-you are meditating. You are going into a semi-trance state, and you are more open to suggestion. Your thoughts are all on one particular object or idea. So…when you are listening to music and experiencing the emotions that you feel with the song…you are meditating. The song is taking you to a place in your mind where you are focused. You are dealing with the emotions the song is bringing up-be it happy, sad, scared, longing, lonely. You feel the music, you are in tune with your inner self. You are feeling. You are meditating. Acknowledge the feelings you are experiencing, no matter how painful they may be. Acknowledge the feelings, and then try to let them go.
Remember, your thoughts do not own you, and sometimes they can be toxic to you. So during these times of solitary focus, try to acknowledge that these are just thoughts stuck in your brain through many from years of conditioning, and free them. Don’t let these thoughts own or define you. We can get pretty tied up in our own minds.
While driving in the car you “space out”…suddenly you reach your destination. However, you have no recollection of the trip. You are meditating. You are focusing on the road, your thoughts are able to enter your mind, and leave. When running or cycling you reach that “high” where you are focused yet strong, and you feel really good. You are meditating. It is during these moments that you are the most creative! I always find that while running I have the best ideas-and I get really excited about them.
Successful meditation is not necessarily thinking about “nothing”. It is about being present with yourself in that moment. We have this preconceived misconception that in order to meditate you have to fully clear your mind of all thought. Therefore, we don’t even bother trying. However, the flow of your mind does not ever stop. You cannot “turn your mind off” To me, meditating is about letting the thoughts enter your mind, experiencing them, and then releasing them. We usually ignore how we feel-suppress it-push it aside-bury it. The simple act of acknowledging how the thought made you feel helps you to heal. It may take time, but it is a process.
It’s as if you are taking the time to sit and have an important conversation with yourself…you are focusing on only yourself. Give yourself permission to open up and let go. You will begin to realize that your thoughts do not define who you are. We tend to be terrible to ourselves, and can be our own worst enemy. Forgive yourself. You are complex and multifaceted. The feelings you experience are necessary-that is your way of healing. Don’t try to close out these feelings before acknowledging them. Try to be present and in the moment. Really feel how you are feeling, as if a friend is crying on your shoulder, but that friend is yourself. With each breath, release the feelings you are experiencing.
Not only will you begin to heal, but you will feel less angry and more forgiving. You will begin to better understand the actions of those around you, and be less judging of others. You will experience lower stress levels and better health! You may even begin to be true to yourself, and make necessary changes in your life.
Anyone can meditate.
Take 15 minutes a day for yourself. Listen to music that moves you. Go for a long drive, or even just sit on the edge of your bed and focus on your breathing. Have these conversations with yourself. It can be first thing in the morning, on your drive to work, while on lunch break, when your child is napping, before bed or during intense exercise. Anytime…just take that time.
Pay attention to your breathing. Let the thoughts come in and acknowledge them. Record in your mind how you felt, and focus on that feeling for a moment. Did you feel angry? Accept that. Did you feel sad? Feel it. Then let it go. Imagine that thought and the feeling drifting away in the wind. Then let the next one in. Eventually you will find that you are more in tune with yourself, and how you internalize the world. You are healing yourself. Eventually the thoughts will come in and go out faster and faster. You may begin to feel serene and peaceful. You may realize that you want to stay longer each time, and you may begin to go into deeper and deeper states of relaxation and peacefulness.
I remember meditating on a park bench this past summer while the kids were digging in a sandbox. I could smell the summer air, hear insects buzzing…everything felt so intense. I felt warmth on my face-I felt excited and happy, yet peaceful. I did not want to move. I wanted to stay there forever. This was a gift I gave myself, and it was free. I was also a better mom the rest of that day.
By giving yourself these 15 minutes each day, you are teaching yourself that you do matter…because whether you believe it or not, you do. When you begin to forgive yourself, you will begin to forgive those around you. You will stop blaming everyone else for how you are feeling. You will begin to accept that feelings are your way of communicating with yourself, and regulating yourself. You may begin to feel comfortable being alone with just your thoughts…something not many of us can do. Use them to move forward and make changes in your life, and let go of the negativity.
It still might not come easy for you…but don’t give up. You will make progress, and you are worth this time!
* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.