While on a yoga retreat in Mexico in May, one of the head instructors asked me if I meditate.
“Yes,” I answered. “I practice and teach yoga, which is a moving meditation, and the kind that I enjoy.”
“That’s not exactly the same thing,” she said in response, looking at me warmly. “Try sitting and meditating for a few minutes each day. It will change everything for you.”
I took these words to heart, albeit with a little embarrassment that I didn’t yet have a consistent practice. Six months after embarking on my self-imposed “meditation challenge,” I can say rightfully and with great certainty, that that beautiful yoga teacher was correct.
To start meditating, find a place where you can be alone and sit comfortably. Breathe slowly, gazing at the third eye (the space between the brows) with your eyes closed. Begin counting your inhales and exhales for 10 to 20 breaths.
Later, you can expand to five minutes, and then more, if you wish. Be gentle with yourself. Unfold breath by breath, moment by moment.
Many shifts appeared in my life after starting this practice, but here are four to celebrate.
1. Things will become clear.
If thoughts frantically race through your head at any given moment, you are not alone. During meditation, grant those thoughts access, and then kindly ask them to take a vacation. Rinse, cycle, and repeat this exercise as many times as needed.
Clarity will gradually enter your dreams and desires. Through reflection, it became clear to me that I had to limit the amount of group yoga classes I was teaching, in order to make space for private clients, leading yoga retreats, and writing.
2. You will confidently say yes and no.
There is much to admire in saying yes to what will serve you and those around you. Likewise, there is value in saying no to things that do not align with your life and your personal goals.
Agreeing to everything can drain your energy and even make you sick. Meditating helps you analyze what to act upon, and what to turn down. As a result of my regular meditation, I was—with grace—able to say no to projects that would not benefit me in the long term, and yes to those that would.
3. You will give thanks.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with my car, but I remember saying “Thank you” after it started one morning. You will find yourself appreciating everything—a warm bed, a shower, toothpaste, your shoes, a comforting smile from a stranger. The list will go on and on.
4. You will stop and smell the roses.
Through a meditative practice, you will realize that twenty four hours in a day is enough time after all. Finally, you can savor life as more time than you had ever imagined available arrives. Be prepared to not feel busy and overwhelmed with your life as you progress and go deeper into your meditation routine.
It has been six months since the yoga retreat in Mexico that started it all, and my meditation challenge is still blooming. I urge you to join me and experience your own shifts. Just as my yoga teacher had predicted, everything will change!
If you have a meditation practice, what changes have occurred and continue to occur in your life? If you do not have a practice, what are some challenges you face in getting started? Can you think of other reasons to start a meditation practice? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Image Credit: Christie Pitko