Blog #9: The ONE Thing That Kept Me Sane During a Super Hectic Month
For as long as I can remember...
I’ve always wanted to make meditation a part of my routine on a quest to be my best damn self. 💪🏽 But I kept putting it off for some reason. After some reflection (um, numerous conversations with myself aloud), I realized that I wanted to be in a more zen state in order to meditate. 👎🏽 But when I realized how ludicrous that pre-requisite was I laughed out loud and promised myself to at least meditate once a week, every week, in May. I like challenges so I thought this structure could work for me. But this wasn’t my first time diving into meditation.
Back in 2014, I went to an ashram with a friend in upstate New York for a long weekend. It was intense for a beginner but I wasn’t going to turn back now. The room was already paid for dammit. Plus, there were yoga classes there too so I thought combining classes would help balance it all out. This probably deserves its own blog post one day, but during the first 30 minute session I swear I was panicking for 29 minutes of it. 😱The instructor was chanting and I was screaming in my head telling myself to calm the fuck down so I could reach inner peace. It's suffice to say, my self talk needed work. ☝🏽
The second day was a little better because the 30-minute meditation sessions didn't feel like 5 hours. And, I wasn't panicking. I went into it telling myself to just sit, close my eyes and breathe. So. Much. Better. Putting less pressure on myself seemed to be key. When the third day rolled around, I was actually looking forward to mediation classes. Looking back, we probably should not have taken 2-3 meditation classes a day but we really wanted to go in. This must be what happens when go-getters go on a meditation retreat. 🤷🏻♀️ The point is, ever since then I didn’t consider meditation again until I heard I heard about May being focus on mindfulness. Thus, the recent challenge.
I found a wellness spa in my area called AuM Body & Soul Spa that offered free meditation twice a day. It felt like it was meant to be. I decided to shoot for Wednesdays and make that my "me day" followed with a nice dinner and just hang at home with my dog. Those me-time Wednesdays lasted for about one day but I am trying to go back to them. Trust. ☝🏽
Their meditation class is 30-minutes long, so you already know I started to freak out a little, and there were only two other people in the room. But I was so amped that I finally made time to meditate and knew nothing could ever be as intense as my first time meditating back in 2014. So I went with it. The instructor gave us blankets and meditation chairs, which I was so thankful for because sitting in that position can be tough at first. 🤞🏽 Your body may need time to acclimate to a meditation position, so be nice to yourself if your leg falls asleep or your hips feel mega tight.
The following week, I went to Inscape in New York. I had lots of meetings that week after work so I needed to make this happen no matter what. Inscape is kind of magical. You walk in and are calmly greeted. 🙏🏼 To the left is an area set with bean-bag like chairs to hang out in to help you decompress from the outside world and prepare you to meditate. You get lockers too, so no need to worry about your stuff.
There is no missing the huge white dome, which is where there party is at. Inside it’s all purple and you are given the choice of sitting on a bench or using cushions and/or blankets. There is an instructor but the meditation is mostly guided by an audio recording. I found myself a bit distracted by the purple lighting inside because just looking at it made me relaxed. But eventually I was able to focus. After you’re done, you can go back to the bean-bag area to mentally prepare yourself for the outside world. It’s super relaxing and the gift shop is sweet too.
The following week was also so hectic. Filled with meetings, after-work events, podcasting at night and on the weekends, and taking a video editing class in Brooklyn. But the one thing that kept me grounded was looking forward to meditation. I felt like I was cheating the system in squeezing in these 30-minutes for myself to just sit. And, be. And, most importantly, breathe.
I missed out on the meditation the following week and started to feel antsy. So, a couple of hours before the sunset one day, I called my two friends and asked if they wanted to go out to the woods for a bit to watch the sunset. They happily jumped on board. 🙌🏽 And, while we were there we meditated with an app I’ve been using called Calm. They have anything from 5 minute guided meditation sessions to time meditations to 7 days of focus sessions.
Somehow, someway, I did it. I stuck to meditating once a week and eventually found myself doing it on my own, in my home, and even on the commute home on the bus. I feel like I can do this on my own now, even if it’s not perfect. Sometimes I go so deep into it that I fall asleep. But the sleep is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s like I slept for days and wake up feeling so refreshed I don’t know what day it is.
When I asked the instructor at Inscape if I was doing it right, she asked me to explain what I pictured in my head. I told her I focused on the light behind my eyes and eventually I would go to this place in my head where I visualized myself sitting in a hallway of a monastery closing the doors to all the things I juggle. Like I knew they wouldn’t go away but just for now, I needed this quiet. One door was my full-time job. Another was my podcast. The next was all my responsibilities. Finally, the last one felt like a door filled with my endless to-do lists. She told me I was much farther ahead than I gave myself credit for considering I was just starting.
What I learned throughout this whole process is that there is no complete stillness, at least at first. You have to train your brain to just focus on thing. ☝🏽 The easiest thing to focus on is your breathe. Once you get that down, everything will change.
The most surprising realization: even with such a hectic month, meditation kept me balanced. If something fell through, my immediate thought was, “Oh, well. Not much I can do about it, right?” When I had to wait 4 whole hours on the tarmac before flying to Miami, I didn’t lose my shit. I took the time to meditate, read my new camera’s manual, and kept taking deep breathes. 🙏🏼 I made myself so relaxed that I took a second nap on that plane while we waited. Now meditation is part of my daily, weekly, and nightly routine.
Most importantly, there is never going to be a perfect time to start something new. Just do it. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. It will make a big difference, believe me. If I can do it, so can you. ✊🏽