On October 15th of this year, I posted an article called Are You Self-Aware? What Does That Even Look Like? In the article, I listed ideas for becoming more aware of our own emotional state. Then I listed things I was committing to do for myself. At the end of the article, there was this P. S. “Mediation came up often on the lists. I have meditated in the past but right now, I can’t commit to it.”
I Have Decided to Commit!
I have decided to commit because of an experiment I have been doing. I want to share my results with you because they have been helpful! Let’s go back a ways. About ten years ago I was living in Kearns, Utah, sharing a home with my daughter Jodie and her family, just as now. However, she wasn’t working full time and although we helped with Maggie it wasn’t as much. My mom hadn’t come to live with us yet. However, I was working full-time, along with traveling, speaking, teaching, and working on my book. But I seemed to have more time. Ah, perspective! LOL
I read the book ‘8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life’ by Victor Davich. I practiced the meditations and settled on one. It is as simple as saying to yourself with each breath, “Breathe in, breathe out.” BUT meditation proved to be a challenge for me. I am by nature a mover, a worker. I want to get things done. I am a finisher. None of this settles well with sitting quietly. However, I began using this practice daily. I would sit on a chair in my kitchen and breathe in and out for 8 minutes. Man, some days it was HARD! However, I became good at it. I began doing this breathing work at the kitchen sink when I was upset or in the car for the same reason. It helped my mind and body slow down and I was able to make better choices and have more thoughtful responses.
Then I began using it when I went to bed. I use this practice to this day. I can go to sleep in under 15 minutes no matter how the day has gone or what worries I have. If I wake up in the night, I can meditate myself back to sleep in a few minutes. As you can see, meditation proved to be very useful to me. But as we do with many things that work for us, I let it slip out of my life, except for going to sleep.
So, at this juncture, why couldn’t I commit to meditating for reasons other than going to sleep? I didn’t believe I could keep the commitment! As a full-time caregiver, I jump out of bed in the morning, and I am off to the races. I move at 100 miles an hour all day long. Then I take my 15-minute self-care shower and drop into bed. I meditate myself to sleep and then the next morning I repeat. I know it sounds terrible, but it fits my personality. However, I know it is not the healthiest way to live. It doesn’t help me manage stress.
Here is one of the affirmation/commitments that I repeat each morning – God and Christ value me just as I am. To them, I have great worth. I feel their love every day! They are teaching me about rest and rejuvenation…so I can serve better.
You see, I know how important it is to slow down, to be still, to make space for oneself. One of my favorite verses of scripture found in the Christian Bible is Psalms 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God.
But knowing and doing are two separate things. After I shared my article with all of you, I couldn’t get meditation off my mind. I thought about it every day. I wanted to commit but I wasn’t sure I could. Eventually, I decided to revisit what it felt like. I recall the morning, a few weeks ago, when I got up, dressed, and then sat on the couch. I have an app on my phone from my early meditation days, Insight Timer. I opened it up, went to my library created so long ago, and chose a 5-minute meditation. I remember opening my eyes at the 3-minute mark because, well, I needed to get going. LOL However, the day moved along more smoothly. Just as busy, but there was something different.
After a couple of days of revisiting how meditation felt, I had one of those 5:30 mornings when I needed to get Maggie up. I didn’t meditate. It was easy to fall off the wagon. See, I knew I couldn’t commit. BUT I also couldn’t stop thinking about it. A week later, as I headed to bed, I opened the app. I found a 60-minute meditation in my library and played it as I fell asleep. I woke far less during the night and felt more rested in the morning! I asked my husband if the music bothered him, and he said it didn’t. I have been going to sleep with meditation music every night since. It is making a HUGE difference in how well I manage busy days.
The last few weeks have been tough. Canning season didn’t end in October but slid right into November. Many days I was up at 6:30 and worked till 11. My normal bedtime is between 9-9:30. This was a rough schedule for me because I still have mornings when I need to care for Maggie at 5:30 and because I am canning, I must get going by 6:30 anyway. However, because I am using meditation music along with my meditation breathing to fall asleep, I have been far more rested, and I have been able to manage this schedule better. By the way, I am now FINISHED for the year! Well, almost. I do have a bucket of pickles in brine. LOL
Here are some things I have done to make meditation work for me:
•I moved my meditation app to the home page of my phone, so it is easy to find.
•I committed to my bedtime meditation music 7 days a week.
•I committed to my morning 5-minute meditation at least 3 days a week. If that is all I can
do it is OK.
•If I am interrupted, I pick up where I left off. Let me give you a few examples:
The first morning I did the 5-minute meditation Ben came down and asked me a question. I paused my music, responded, and then carried on. A few seconds later Jodie came down and put in laundry. I shut out the sounds and carried on. This can happen many mornings and I have decided not to let it bother me. That way I remain peaceful and get my meditation in, no matter what. : ) It is a choice.
A few days later Jack came and asked if I could drive him to school. I calmly turned off my music and took him. I had gotten 3 minutes in, and I let it be enough.
This Monday morning when the free-standing heater went on, I noticed the sound of blowing air was very loud. I looked at the time and I had 3 minutes left. I let the feeling of irritation go. I decided to mesh the heater sound with the music, and I finished my meditation. I remained calm. It again, was a choice.
•I focus on the value meditation brings and not on the challenges of getting it done.
•I accept the responsibility of creating space for myself. I don’t blame others or circumstances.
I rush to the next thing. It’s my nature, and it’s how my life is structured. Meditation helps me create space in my life. Remember that old story I have mentioned in the past, that there is no space in my life for me? I know I am in control of that story and my response to it. It has been a challenge for the last couple of years to keep it in check. Meditation helps me create 5 minutes for myself, and if I remain calm despite the occasional interruptions, it silences that old story and I manage my busy days better. After all, it’s my responsibility to create space despite all that I am responsible for managing in a day. The same thing applies to my night meditation.
The Value of Meditation for Me
To summarize, what has the value of even small amounts of meditation been to me?
Prior to today’s meditation, I was saying my morning prayer. It was all I had in my head to do before I would plunge into the day. During that sacred moment, I realized I was rushing. I said to God, “I am rushing! I am sorry. I need more calmness as I move into the day.” Meditation immediately came into my mind. God is so good! I finished my prayer.
As I began the meditation, I felt like a sprinter at the starting gate. I noticed my breathing was shallow and fast. I was leaning forward as if any second the gun was going to go off, and I would sprint into the day. There was a tenseness in my shoulders.
By choice, I began breathing deeply and slowly. I leaned back and rested on the chair. I let my hands go limp in my lap. I felt the tenseness ooze away. I deliberately did what I needed to do to relax into the meditation. After a short time, I peeked at the clock thinking, “I probably have three minutes left.” My nature was asserting itself! There was only 2 min and 23 seconds left. I felt a smile coming on. I smiled for the rest of the 2 minutes. It felt good to be still and understand myself.
When the time elapsed, I was calmer. My mind and body had slowed down. The need to rush into my day was no longer there. I looked calmly at my list and thought, “Where shall I begin?” I made time for my morning routine – I read a few verses of scripture. I said my affirmation/commitments, got my water ready and wrote in my gratitude journal. I was able to make time for these important things. Then I took my walk.
Now I am deeply into the day. I am doing my writing for this post. (I usually spread it out over a week but, well, you know, canning.) Then I will construct the newsletter and do the podcast. After that, I want to clean my home for the Sabbath because I couldn’t do that last week. You know, canning. LOL Then the budget and … No matter how the day ends it’s moving along smoothly, calmly. I feel ordered and in control of myself, even if I can’t control the interruptions and shed the responsibilities. Meditation, just the little I do, has made a difference.
I AM COMMITTED!
P.S. There are many wonderful, guided meditations and in the past, I have used them. However, for now, I am only using meditation music. It is enough.
Here is a PDF of the book 8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life by Victor Davich.