People think meditation and yoga is all hippie-dippie nonsense, complete with raw vegan diets, essential oils, and a bad case of body odor. Hate to break it to you friends.. you’ve been incredibly misinformed.
Learning to Live between effort and surrender.
I practice this back-and-forth dance every single day. Whether it’s with my daily meditating or my yoga practice, the reason I do those things is for the BALANCE it gives me. I am much less concerned over insignificant things. Judgement and negative thoughts fail to take root in my mind. I am happier and more content with life and what is happening.
It’s an overall awareness of what is present. It’s a grounding.
It is also a severely over-looked part of self care.
Think about it.
We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars transforming our physical bodies with diets, gym memberships and plastic surgery, yet we are tragically failing to take care of our mental well-being. And it can be as easy as spending 10 minutes a day practicing controlling your mind – calming it down, focusing on your breath, becoming acutely aware of what is going on internally.
You hear this phrase constantly: meditation, and yoga, are a PRACTICE.
Okay Zen Master Cristin, what does that even mean?
It means what it literally means..
1. perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.
For whatever reason, people are squarely rooted with this defeating impression that they cannot practice yoga or meditation until they are “good at it”. They won’t attend classes for fear that they won’t have “perfect” poses or be able to touch their toes. They won’t continue meditating because the first time they do it, their mind never shuts up, and they feel it’s just a waste of time.
We ALL start in the exact same spot.
I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for five years. I was not flexible when I began yoga, I would loose my balance constantly and topple out of poses, and I felt like every person in the room was judging me and how NOT good I was.
Everyone goes through this same process.
Five years into it and my flexibility has improved. I can recognize when my core is engaged, helping me find stability. I have also come to terms with the truth that… NO ONE IN THE ROOM GIVES A DAMN ABOUT YOU.
I mean that last sentence lovingly.
The fact is, other people are SO focused on their own practice that they aren’t watching or judging yours. Most of the time their eyes are closed! Mine usually are.
So what if you can only bend so far down or your balance isn’t very good? No one is even paying attention to that. Every person in the room is at a different stage and are focused exclusively on that. But we all started at stage one like you. Not one person will think less of you for showing up and giving your best effort, stumbles and all.
It does not happen over night, but you must be willing to continue showing up.
The same goes with meditation.
When I first started meditating, I would commit to just 10 minutes. Guided meditations work wonders because you simply focus on the guide. I still use them more often than not. They aren’t all about rainbows and mystical butterflies like you may think. One of my frequently used ones is simply the guides’ voice bringing me back to my breath at seemingly perfect timing for when my mind decides to venture away.
Back when I started meditating, my mind would wander constantly. I would think about the day, I would think about my current problems, I would drift so far away from any zen-like state that it would feel more frustrating that beneficial. But I kept showing up and I kept practicing.
Over time, I began to gain control over my mind. I would recognize when thoughts would try to steal away my attention and let them drift by. I can now sit in perfect stillness, both physically and mentally. I can also practice meditations up to 40 minutes long and am striving for the hour mark.
One trick I learned is to meditate very first thing in the morning, for two reasons.
First, the mind is most clear. The day hasn’t crowded it with thoughts or tasks just yet and you are better able to focus on the present moment.
Secondly, it starts the day with a positive mindset and grounded emotions.
Again my friends, this has taken A LOT of practice. Even still, there are days when my mind refuses to surrender. I’m still practicing.
Learning to master your mind is a challenge. People come up with a million excuses as to why they won’t even try or why they give up so quickly. I know it sounds soooo hippie to say these things to you and I can just hear the eye-rolls among readers every where. However, I can PROMISE you, the benefits FAR outweigh any and all reasons not to stick with it.
I genuinely believe my daily practice saves me from my demons. We are our worst enemy and the seclusion of our minds can be a dark and terrifying place… if we let it be. Taking a few moments to give a damn about your mental and emotional state can make such a radical difference in your life.
I mean, it’s not like you’ll regret improving your relationships, your health, your demeanor and presence, or your world as a whole.
It’s time to stop making excuses.