Meditation is not a new concept to me. I feel like I’ve been meditating forever, on and off. I first started getting interested in it when I discovered Buddhism at age 11. Besides the fact that my life goal at that time was to live at a temple with monks in Lhasa for a couple months (that didn’t happen–my parents thought school was top priority ;)), I also loved the idea of meditating, which seemed to be an integral part of Buddhism.
I’d sit down cross-legged and close my eyes. My goal was to trick myself into not thinking about anything. At the time, I clearly didn’t know what meditation was about, but I kind of had a need to turn off thoughts nevertheless.
Then, a couple years later, when I was around 17 or so, I discovered yoga. I took classes with a friend at a “studio” in the basement of an elderly home facility. We definitely, massively brought down the average age. But seriously, Luxembourg was not on the forefront of the yoga revolution, and hence meditation, although occasionally a part of the savasana practice, was considered slightly weird. That resulted in a level of resistance from my side because I felt rather uncomfortable meditating, listening to gongs, and chanting mantras.
At 22, after I had spent a year in the states and rediscovered the joys of yoga (I was in a little liberal arts college in upstate New York, which in hindsight reminds me strongly of Brooklyn and the hipster vibes), I decided to enroll in a yoga teacher training course in Manhattan. I spent a month doing yoga and learning everything about it. I even learned that as a good yogi, you gotta wear leggings at least 60% of the week ;). Most importantly, I got reintroduced to meditation but this time, it was the real deal. I couldn’t believe how different it was from everything I had experienced before. Quickly, that summer, I started incorporating sessions into my everyday routine.
As soon as I went back to Europe to finish up school, I forgot about it. Not about yoga but about meditation. I made excuses not to meditate (things like, I don’t have time–hilarious right?) and kind of suppressed the urge to sit and be still.
Besides occasional meditating in yoga class, I had totally abandoned my practice from that summer in 2012. Until a couple weeks ago. A friend of mine told me and Noah (my now meditating better half) about an app called Headspace. While I usually jump on everything wellness related like a koala on a eucalyptus leaf, this time, Noah was the first one to be interested; the same day our friend told us about it, Noah downloaded the app and embarked on a 10-day challenge.
Overcome by the pressure (I’m kidding, I did it freely) I did the same a couple of days later. Wow. I couldn’t believe how much these daily ten minutes of listening to the soothing warm voice of the podcast changed my emotional and physiological state. Although I would have described myself as generally happy and way more relaxed than a couple months ago, the effects were strong.
I started being more mindful. And when I could catch myself with negative emotions, I became aware of it in the moment and tried to put things in perspective. From a physiological perspective, I started feeling more alert and focused. And the craziest most beautiful change was that my dreams became more vivid and colorful as ever. And I would remember them, every single time. It feels for some reason that I have been more connected with myself and I found meditation to be a great remedy for when I feel unbalanced.
The other day I was on my way back from a weekend hiking trip to Woodstock. I was on a bus and felt that anxiety was creeping up as I was approaching NYC. I just had a million thoughts about the coming week, things I needed to do, people I needed to talk to. So I took out my phone, selected a ten-minute Headspace practice and plugged in my earphones. It was the best decision I could have made in that moment, and I instantly felt more relaxed. When I was done, I wasn’t only relaxed, but I actually managed to enjoy my Sunday night without thinking about the next week anymore.
Guess what? Noah has been meditating ever since he first downloaded the app–for over 30 days in a row now! I’m less diligent about it, but I identify moments when I need it and then carve out 10 minutes to sit down and do my practice. My goal is to do it every single day, so it becomes a part of me and so I can feel its powerful effects continuously. Now that you know all about it, please hold me accountable to it 😉
Do you have an on-and-off relationship with meditation? How do you carve out time to sit?
Also by Isabelle: Why Moving to the US Made Me Healthier (and Happier!)
Related: Meditation Diet: What to Eat and What to Avoid
4 Alternate Forms of Meditation You Can Start Today
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