What Happens When You Unplug for 20 Minutes?

IMG_5400 (1)I think the word “meditation” gets mixed reviews –  from sounding like a bigger deal than it really is, to some “crunchy” “new ” thing people do, to being reserved for Buddhists and Hindu’s.  Trust me, I used to think the same thing.

So what is it? There are a million articles, books, blogs, apps out there.

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

meditation

noun med·i·ta·tion \ˌme-də-ˈtā-shən\

Simple Definition of meditation

  • : the act or process of spending time in quiet thought : the act or process of meditating

  • : an expression of a person’s thoughts on something

To simply put it, meditation is all about spending time with yourself and being in the present moment and unplugging. It’s about spending a few minutes away from technology and our ever looming list of things to do. Being in the present moment means being aware. Aware of your body, the way it feels at that very moment.

When you meditate sometimes your mind will be really busy, other times like a lake. We close our eyes in meditation, because it’s easier to look inward when they are closed. We’re less likely to get distracted. Things will come up when you meditate – say hello to it. Think of those things as an old friend.  That old friend can be, anxiety or that familiar story from the day before that stresses you out.

Meditation is about noticing what happens to your body, when your old friend anxiety shows up or that story is told. Often times, we’re so busy we don’t allow ourselves to have 20 minutes of stillness. We’re so busy, the feelings associated with anxiety and stress go unnoticed until we’re sick or just so taxed we have to stop.  As we start to notice the old friend anxiety or the familiar story and say hello to them, they become less painful and less of a burden. Whatever story may come up, I now look at it as a story, it makes it easier to be in my own skin.

The whole point of meditation is to connect with yourself in a non-striving, non-judge mental way.

Why is meditation hard for you? What have you started to notice as you meditate? 

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We’re Always Doing Something

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I was 16 or 17 when it occurred to me we are always doing. I was a new driver waiting at a stoplight, the sun was beating down, I looked around and noticed movement everywhere. Nothing was stopping. Cars moving in either direction, lights turning, people walking across the street, a train going by, people fidgeting in their cars, a breeze blowing, birds flying by – you get the picture. I was an island in the middle of all this movement and I realized “nothing really stops.”

We’re taught at an early age we need to always be doing and not being. If we’re not doing then we’re told we’re lazy. Which is untrue – there is a difference between being and being lazy. I found great comfort when John Kabat-Zinn wrote a whole section about this, in his book, Full Catastrophe Living. We’ve become a society that is constantly on. We don’t really make time to turn off, other than when we sleep. We have disconnected from ourselves because we’re always doing. We never stop.

We can reconnect with ourselves if we get into the practice of turning off and allowing ourselves to just be. What if we spent 20 minutes a day, just being? When we set aside time to just be, our bodies cannot thank us enough. If we fully immerse in our bodies, and we turn off everything around us to focus on right now, concentrate on our breath and our body and immerse in the stillness, then we naturally connect with ourselves.

I recommend giving this a shot, a couple of times a week and see how you feel. Try this without judgment or expectations and allow yourself to turn off and just be. Start by, turning your phone to silent – not vibrate, setting the timer for 20 minutes, sitting in a comfortable place, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath as you inhale and exhale. You can even repeat in your head, “in,” “out,” with each breath, or “peace” on the inhale, and “joy” on the exhale. As you’re focusing on the breath notice how good it feels to relax your mind and your body without any outside distractions and just be.

Let me know how you felt – if 20 minutes seems too much at first, try 10 minutes and increase it from there.

Morning Buzz

IMG_3378Allowing yourself to have a ritual that you look forward to each day is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Even if you’re stretched with work, family, kids – just 15 minutes of being still can help minimize stress. You’re just being. How many times throughout the day, are we running, multitasking, stressed, stretched, always doing, always trying to please? Pretty much most of the day. The only times we really have to ourselves, is in the bathroom. We’re always on.

What would happen if you turned off for 15 minutes? How would you feel? At first you might feel as if you don’t have time for that. You might feel guilt. You may feel stressed, uncomfortable, angry. Try it for 15 minutes. There is no right or wrong time of day. There are no rules, no expectations. This is your time. Settle down, quiet the body and just be with yourself. It is time to reset, take care of yourself, and clear your mind.

What are some of your rituals?