For many years I’ve heard and read about the benefits of meditation and thought it was a practice I should explore. But there was always something standing in my way. I couldn’t find a meditation course in my area or the class schedule was inconvenient, either in the middle of the day or too late at night, or the sessions weren’t for beginners but for experienced meditators.
You name it, I had an excuse for it. I have a tendency to over analyze things, which was one of the reasons I wanted to begin meditating in the first place. I can overthink things so much that I wind up talking myself out of something before I’ve even begun it.
And, to be truthful, I was a bit scared that I was not the type of person who could ever succeed at meditation (as if that was the purpose of meditation, to succeed).
I think a lot. My mind races with a very active imagination. I have stories and ideas, lists and plans running around in my brain 24/7 and I was afraid that if I did indeed, finally find a meditation course that fit my schedule and lifestyle, I wouldn’t be able to control my mind and would fail at meditating (again, that notion that you can succeed or fail at such a thing).
I have tried meditating in groups a few times and always had trouble keeping my focus. My hyper-aware mind would roam, I’d hear every little noise or breath or movement that the other people in the room were making. I’d get an itch, my neck and back would begin to hurt, I’d become self conscious about how I was carrying my body, my breathing in and out felt too loud, I couldn’t just relax into myself and overcome my self consciousness, so the meditation was always a struggle and I never found peace in it.
This last year has been difficult for me. I’ve wrestled with life changes as I enter empty-nest land: my kids are both growing up and moving out, my daughter is already in college, my son will leave for college next month, there have been work challenges for both myself and my husband this year, there have been old, unresolved issues hanging over my soul and pulling me back to my past, I’ve had writers block, I haven’t felt able to express my inner most thoughts for almost a year.
And then about a month or so ago, someone told me about something called Calm (it might have been my 20 year old daughter), a mindfulness meditation app. I downloaded it to my iPhone and dabbled around with it a bit, but didn’t put any particular thought or practice into it until this week.
I think I’ve fallen in love.
Before you read further, please note: I don’t do paid or sponsored posts because this is a breast cancer blog, you know? And why would I try to make money off of breast cancer? This is just me, I have no idea who owns Calm and they have no idea that I’m writing about their app, I’m just writing about it because it’s had a positive transformational effect on my life.
So anyway, the app is on my phone and I did my first meditation session last Monday and it turns out that when I do guided meditation by myself in a quiet room with this app, I can calm my mind and focus and it’s fantastic. I love it. It’s the only time I’ve ever meditated where I felt I was experiencing what meditation is supposed to help you achieve: a sense of peace and calm that allowed me to focus on being in the moment.
The app has very helpful elements to facilitate the process such as a variety of really beautiful and peaceful interactive screen scenes that you can view, a broad series of both guided and unguided sessions, short 10 minute meditations or longer more extended ones, each based on your own needs and availability, and you can even set a reminder every day at a specific time to begin your daily meditation.
The best part for me is the woman’s voice for the guided session. She’s the one I think I’m in love with.
The word mellifluous comes to mind, when I think of her voice. It fills me with serenity; it’s soft, gentle, encouraging, empathetic, loving and really melodious. It just hits my mind in the right spot so that I automatically fall into almost a trance when I hear her speak. I wish I could send her a note and tell her how much I love her voice.
I’ve slept better in the past week than I’ve slept in months. I’ve always heard about the benefits of meditation but was skeptical as I couldn’t really fathom how it could have so much positive impact on so many aspects of life, but I’m beginning to recognize that it really has made a tremendous difference in my life already. The additional benefit of having the app on my phone is that I can have it with me anywhere and at any time of the day so that I can use it any time I have a short break, want to just calm myself or need to relax the tension I get in my back and shoulders from stress.
One recent night (I do my meditation at night before bed, to help me relax) the guided voice told me at the end of the session to feel gratitude and to be grateful for my body, my life, my family, my home, the things around me that support me, and as I did, I began to cry, unexpectedly. It was one of the first times I’ve recognized that I was crying out of joy and physically expressing the release of that emotion, vs. connecting crying with sadness and weakness. I realized that I was actually feeling stronger and more at peace than I’ve felt in a long time, and that this was why I was crying, to release the emotion that I’d been holding in my body.
Pretty powerful stuff.
You may use other methods to get to this calm, centered, mindful place in your own soul; maybe you do yoga, or exercise, or paint, or play music, or sing, or run, or walk, or cook or eat. It’s all good. I hope you find the thing that brings a place of mindfulness and calm to your life. I feel free-er and more open than I’ve felt in months and I would wish that for anyone else in this life. With all that’s going on in our current world, it’s important to focus on being the most open hearted and loving person that we can be.
And I think maybe I’ve cracked open that writers block.