A lot of friends and clients tell me they can’t meditate or it doesn’t work for them. I always challenge these statements. No one is ‘good’ at meditating. Your mind is going to wander, it is going to feel hard to sit still. We often envision meditation as being perfectly still in body and mind - but that’s not it at all. Meditation can offer so many benefits, even if you’re not achieving your idea of perfect.
Meditation helps with stress management, self awareness, reactivity, mindfulness, being present, and so much more. One of the first things you learn with any beginners guided meditation is to let your thoughts go (and I highly rec guided meditations especially starting out). When meditating you will quickly get lost in thought. You will learn to recognize when this happens (the thinking, planning, worrying) and let the thought float away, like a cloud. You don’t dwell, you don’t talk down to yourself for failing, you don’t continue on the story either, you just let it float way and come back to your breath. This may happen dozens of times in a short five minute meditation, but over time it gets easier.
Those skills trickle into real life, probably without you realizing it. Maybe you are in a stressful moment at work and you realize you take a breathe instead of exploding in anger. Perhaps you’re worrying and instead of spiraling to more severe anxiety you find yourself coming back to the present. Meditation can help you let things go, live in the moment, and react less. You will never do it perfectly, but even the smallest commitment can create transformation.
meditation and diet
After getting back into meditation after a brief hiatus I had an interesting revelation: meditation skills directly parallel the skills we need to eat well and stay healthy. Does this sound like you? You eat well all week, whether following a plan or just cutting back on sugar, you are feeling great about your on-point diet. Friday hits, you treat yourself to an alcoholic beverage or a less healthy food and feel pretty guilty. That guilt rides you and leads you to run yourself down at the gym the next day. Or maybe you decide you’ve already gone off track so whats the point and end up eating and drinking too much all weekend only to feel crappy and vow to get back on track Monday. This pattern may repeat week after week. Familiar? It sure was for me - for a very long time.
If you eat well M-F and ignore your health on the weekend, you’re not eating well. Eating well and having a healthy diet is about consistency, balance, awareness, and treating and feeding yourself in a way that feels good. If one less than perfect food choice leads to a downward spiral, or if you end up having the all or nothing approach with your diet - you would benefit from practicing meditation. You can apply the let it go process to your food choices. So what you ate fries and had a too many glasses of wine on Friday night? You let it go. You move on. You don’t hold onto negative thoughts or food regret, you move on to the next meal/moment/breath and view each time you eat as a chance to begin again.
The ability to not let a a food choice bring you down is insanely powerful. You are able to eat well more often, and stop harboring guilt or letting food run your life. In addition, meditation can help increase mindfulness over food choices, slow down, and taste food. You will be less reactive to stress and sadness and therefore may be less likely to use food as a comfort or coping mechanism. So much of what we eat is about mindset.
I challenge you to give meditation a chance. Try to meditate daily for a week, then set another small goal. Some apps I recommend are Headspace ( great, free beginners series), Insight Timer and Calm.
So tell me, do you meditate? Do you plan to start? What changes have you seen in your life since you started?