As part of the Energize pillar of the BBP Holiday Hustle, Lindsey is highjacking the blog to talk about how her experience with meditation. Starting it, stopping it, and picking it back up again.
My introduction to meditation came about 2 years ago in January. I was still recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery, I had packed on 15 pounds because I couldn’t exercise, I had just finished a grueling 4 months of filming WorkOut New York for Bravo TV, and the experience and the stress of my current situation, my current life – left me reeling with anxiety.
It wasn’t until I went home that Christmas and in passing my aunt said to me “Are you ok? I can tell there’s something wrong. It feels like you’ve lost your spark.” That sent me off the deep end. And she was right. Something – many things, just weren’t right. I wasn’t myself and I could feel it. I had to do something about it.
I had considered meditation for some time now and in my internet searching, found former showgirl turned meditation teacher, Emily Fletcher had created a company called Ziva Meditation. I was intrigued. I rustled up some courage and went to the intro talk. She wasn’t what you’d assume a meditation teacher to look like. There was no long beard, no drapey costume. She just seemed like a normal New York City gal but she was radiating with energy. She seemed sublimely happy. I wanted that.
I signed up for the course and over the next 4 days I was thrust into the unknown world of meditation. The type of meditation I was practicing – Vedic Meditation, was the perfect option for me. It’s built for people who lead busy lives (isn’t that all of us?) and requires you sit with your back supported, head free and eyes closed two times a day for 20 minutes. At first, I was skeptical of the time commitment, but I wasn’t being asked to go full on Eat-Pray-Love-monk-in-the-mountains level of commitment so I said ok. Like any New Yorker, I’m always tight on time and committing to sitting still and closing my eyes for 40 minutes a day was asking a lot. But I did it. I found quiet places to meditate. Churches, hallway closets, even the subway. I was committed. In just a couple of weeks, I noticed a HUGE difference in my anxiety. Suddenly, things that would send me into a panic attack weren’t affecting me anymore. I was sleeping better. I was becoming more creative in my job. I was just a much nicer, more pleasant person.
I stayed on the meditation train strong and full speed ahead for about 6 months. It was then that I started to slack. Life got in the way and sleeping an extra 5 minutes seemed like a better option. I wouldn’t make time for myself in the morning. I thought, well if I missed the first one what’s the point. Or I’d slack and skip my second meditation. Before I knew it, skipping one meditation turned into skipping a day, which turned into skipping a weekend which turned into skipping a month. Before I knew it, I had let “life” take back over and that didn’t include meditation.
Since I stopped meditation, I’ve been thinking about it almost every day. It’s like that nagging thing on your to-do list that requires a little more of your attention so it keeps getting put off. For almost a year I’ve found an excuse to put it off. I don’t have time, I don’t have the patience – all things that would point to the fact that I DEFINITELY should be meditating. Lately, I had been thinking about it much more often to the point where I would look up a time to go back to Ziva Meditation for a refresher. For some reason, sitting down, closing my eyes and repeating a mantra for 20 minutes wasn’t something I could do all by myself. I needed someone to tell me to do it. I realized I had anxiety about starting to meditate again. Talk about an oxymoron.
I’m not sure how it happened but last Sunday I woke up and did it. I just decided to do it right then and there. I sat down. I crossed my legs. I sat up tall. And I just closed my eyes. I just did it. But getting there, to that spot where my legs crossed, my eyes closed, to just sat there in silence with nothing but my thoughts and my mantra….it took over a year to get there. I let thoughts come and go. I started thinking about how I had to blog about this. I told myself to stop thinking about that. And then I would go back to the mantra. I did it for 20 minutes. I opened my eyes. And I felt this great sense of something. Peace? Clarity? Joy? A combination of all three maybe? I woke up and decided that today was the day. And so it was.
Why was it so hard for me to start again? To pick the practice back up? I think I had reached a point where feeling just “ok” during the day wasn’t good enough for me. The anxiety, the stress, the panic – they weren’t welcome visitors in my home anymore. I decided enough was enough. I took control back.
What I’m getting at here is: no person can make you WANT to do something. It doesn’t matter how much you’re pushed, how many times you’re encouraged, how many times you say “I really should do this today.” You won’t until you will. You’re not ready until you are. And it usually happens in the quietest ways. It doesn’t happen by creating an event in your calendar or setting an alarm on your phone. How many times do we do that and fail? You can set your alarm clock 10000 times in the morning to wake up and do the things you’re supposed to do: finish writing your book, brainstorm a new idea for work, workout… but if the inspiration isn’t there, then neither are you.
Since sitting down on and meditating last Sunday I’ve meditated almost every single day, 2 times a day for 20 minutes. The difference this time? I’m not being so hard on myself. I think the greatest reason I failed before was I felt like if I didn’t commit 100% – if I wasn’t the perfect meditator – then what was the point at all? It was all or nothing. This time I’m approaching it slightly less intensely. I’ve found that being a little softer on myself has made me more excited to actually do it. If I miss a day I’m not going to throw the whole practice out the window, I’m just going to pick it back up the next day. Simple as that.
P.S. – Want to try meditation but don’t know where to start? I would HIGHLY recommend Emily Fletcher and Ziva Meditation. Don’t live in New York? Never fear. She’s created ZivaMind – an online course that will teach you how to meditate right at home.