Don’t Hate, Meditate.

Every time I tried meditating, believing it was a good thing for me to do, I failed at it.

In fact, I have been trying in some way, shape and form to meditate for over six years now.

In the fitness world, it’s hard to navigate all of the healthy things you can do for yourself without coming across someone who mentions the benefits of meditating.

When I first decided to give meditation a try, I had read a book called The Mindful Manifesto. It talked about the effects of stress and the benefits of meditation and mindfulness in one’s life.

So, I took some of the tips from the book and tried to add meditation into my own life.

I just couldn’t stick with it. My mind would race down one rabbit hole and into another. I wanted my thoughts to disappear and they wouldn’t.

I decided meditation was not for me.

Yet, I kept hearing about it and reading about it. More and more of my fitness professional friends and peers were talking about how beneficial it had been for them.

I thought, maybe I was just one of those special snowflakes who couldn’t find a way to make it work.

I tried apps with colorful visuals and apps with ambient music. Those didn’t work. The thought of transcendental meditation didn’t appeal to me either.

A few years ago, I found out about an app called Headspace. It was guided meditation, led by a gentleman named Andy Puddicombe. There was a 10-day free trial, so I gave it a go.

Something clicked.

Andy was telling me what he wanted me to do: how to breathe, what to think about, not to worry if my thoughts didn’t vanish, and reminding me that it was okay if it didn’t all work perfectly at first.

After the trial, I signed up for a year’s worth of Headspace. As the time went on, the goal was to increase the duration of time spent in meditation. This worked great…until it didn’t.

Meditation became a thing that, while I believed it was beneficial, I was not making a priority in my day. I kept finding other things to focus on and my time meditating kept working further down the list.

So, I quit.

From time to time, I’d hear meditation pop up again as a topic and I would tell myself “I should do that again…yes, yes, when I have time…”

2019 has been a banner year for me professionally. Business is booming, the podcast is great, the blog has been great and the book is nearly complete.

On a personal level, life has been challenging. I’ve had some injuries to work around that keep me from being and feeling my best at work, I’ve been working through some childhood trauma with my therapist and, while I wasn’t admitting it to myself, I’ve been really worked up about it (almost all of which has been internalized.)

The funny thing, is that your body has a strange way of letting you know that it’s not going to deal with stress anymore.

When I made that realization, I knew it was time to bring meditation back into the fold.

As I write this, I am still in my infancy going back to Headspace and starting from square one with meditation. I receive no compensation or kickback from that company. I have no referral link to use. It’s just what has worked for me and something different may work for you.

As I have a tendency of doing, I look at how meditation has worked in my life and can find the parallels between that diet and exercise.

So often, we want the things we do for our health to be automatic, instantly gratifying, one more quick fix after another.

I can assure you, meditation is not a quick fix.

If you’re like me, your life may have more stress in and around it than you realize. Regardless of how you want to add meditation in your life, here is some advice I can give you for greater results.

Don’t try to eliminate your thoughts. Meditation helps you focus on your breath and on calming your mind. It doesn’t eliminate every negative feeling in your mind. Over time, you will notice a calmer take on what’s happening between your ears but it will take time (and patience.)

Don’t expect your first (or second or third) attempt at meditation to work. As I referenced above, it took me several tries to find the right way to meditate for me. I knew that guided meditation, for now, was the best avenue for me to take. My mind likes to wander and I needed the voice to remind me when and what to focus on.

You won’t automatically get better at meditation over time. Much like weight loss and strength training, progress with meditation is not linear. There have been days when I’ve had really great meditation sessions and days where I feel like I got nothing positive accomplished. You still have to put the time in and accept the less than perfect days.

Meditation does not replace prayer. For those who believe in a certain higher power, it may seem sacrilegious to meditate instead of pray. I believe that you can have both. Pray, if you feel so inclined, so that you can communicate with that higher power as you desire. Meditate to calm your mind. They can (and should) complement each other.

Experiment with different times of the day to meditate. Initially, I felt the best time of my day to meditate was late morning/early afternoon where I tend to have a lull in my schedule. Stress would normally be heightened by this point and I felt that meditation could serve to calm my thoughts down. While this did work at the beginning, lately I feel better when I meditate first thing in the morning.

If you have felt inclined to try meditating, based on things you’ve heard or testimonials from others, it’s worth trying and it’s worth navigating through the different forms of meditation. We all gravitate towards different stimuli. However, if life has been overwhelming for you, you may need meditation more than you realize.

Below is our little guy Sebastian doing his best impression of meditation. Thankfully, at two years of age, he doesn’t have a lot of worries in life to be concerned about.