My idea of meditation has always been sitting near a body of water and listening to the waves lap the shore. That’s my bliss. I become calm, relaxed and clear-headed. So that’s my standard and I have found it difficult to obtain this same mindset in my home in Michigan with dogs, cats, kids, and a never-ending to-do list. I would really rather be at the beach.
I know that highly successful people and mentally healthy people rave about the benefits of meditation. They claim that training their mind to focus on nothing (other than their own breathing) helps them live a better life, be more effective and more successful. But it’s soooooo hard! At least for me, it was. Perhaps I just didn’t get it or my mind was so full and my thoughts so active that I felt like I was a human pinball machine. Zinging from one idea or thought to next, hitting the bell, and often just falling into the hole.
Then I was invited to attend a short mindfulness session at my office. This was several years ago, in the olden days. When I worked in an office with lots of people and rows of cubicles. We met in the conference room and the leader just asked us to give it a try. She put her phone on speaker mode and opened up an app.. It was Calm. What a perfect name for an app about mindfulness, meditation, and rest. We all closed our eyes and listened to a soothing voice describe a beach setting and we could hear the waves lapping gently at the shore. It only lasted ten minutes but it was glorious! I really enjoyed it I wish I could say that I became a regular and used it often. I can’t because I didn’t. But I did download the app (they have a great free version) and I felt guilty about not using it.
Occasionally I would use it and I felt really great when I did it. In addition to the variety of guided meditations, there are bedtime stories to help you relax and go to sleep and other good tools to help your mind get in a good place. I recently subscribed to the paid version of Calm and that investment is nudging me to remember to actually use it. I am a fan.
Another great resource is YouTube. Several months ago a dear friend shared with me a 21-day mindfulness meditation with Deepak Chopra. I was very hesitant. I knew of him (because Oprah is a fan) but had never listened to any of his guided meditations. I committed to this 21-day program and found a comfy chair to be my meditation spot. Honestly, this was in the summer during the pandemic and I wasn’t going anywhere. I might as well go somewhere in my mind. I absolutely love Deepak’s soothing voice and his word choices are so elegant. The time was just right, about 10 minutes. I felt refreshed and relaxed after each session.
My point is that even if you don’t have much time for self-care, you have never tried meditation or mindfulness and don’t know where to begin, there are wonderful resources available to you and many of them are free. Just give it a try and sample a few. It might take a while to find the right one for you. I like to think of these apps and videos as my insurance against losing my mind some days. If I get wound up and stressed, I know that I can take just ten minutes, find a comfy spot, put in my earbuds, and escape into my own little bit of paradise. And you don’t even need sunscreen. You will find the Calm app on the app store on your phone and here is the link to the Deepak Chopra Abundance meditation https://youtu.be/QL9j_Z-EJdI
Meditation is a very personal practice. For many prayer is their favorite form of meditation. My mom used to pray the Rosary every day. That focus and repetition is a similar experience and has the added benefit of connection to God and tradition.
Regardless of the path you choose. Finding a way to calm your mind will help your body function better and offer you opportunities to enjoy your life and serve others more with grace.