Stepping Stones to Silence
I used to have so much going on that it felt impossible to stop.
Ever happen to you?
The voice inside my head used to say…you need to make another list, to take the kids to that enriching thing at the museum, to plan another community event, to get the house cleaned before heading out for the long weekend trip. The voice inside my head used to lead me through a barrage of tasks, stripping me of the joys of spontaneity, while enticing me with the status of “master multi-tasker”.
Ok let’s be honest, it sometimes still does some of those things.
But less and less I’m grinning and bearing it.
I am no longer amused by shirts that say, “Goal Digger” or “But first, coffee” or “Run Now, Wine Later”.
That’s because running myself ragged and then “unwinding” with a glass of wine (or two) was not shaping me into the woman I wanted to be. Going, going, going…doing, doing, doing…living the modern balls-to-the-wall pace of life not only wasn’t helping me become a better wife, mother, friend, student, servant, citizen…it was hindering me from living in closer alignment with my true self.
For me, this “wild and precious life” is about being on a growth path. It's about always evolving into the next best version of who God has given me the opportunity to be.
So, I slowed down.
And I started practicing what really helps to calm the crazy.
Say it with me now – MEDITATION. Yep, that’s the practice. That’s the ticket.
Now you might read this and think a lot of things. You might have a lot of justifications why meditation isn’t your jam. So I’m here to unpack some of your stories for you.
Top 3 Meditation Excuses
“Oh ya, nope. Tried it. Didn’t work. Not for me.” – I used this line. And then I discovered that – AMAZINGLY – just because you tried something once and didn’t succeed, doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t try, try again! So the day/time/position/method/setting you tried didn’t provide the results you were seeking…lucky for you, there are many, many methods of getting out of your head and into your breath (keep reading for a few options).
“I’m too busy to meditate” – You know who is huge into meditating? Tony Robbins. Ever heard of him? Massively successful motivational speaker who’s written multiple best selling books. Ya, that guy finds time to meditate. Know who else meditates every day? Oprah. You know that lady must have a pretty full plate. Then when I consider how heroes of mine like Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama meditate for HOURS every day…literally, it makes me feel kinda silly about using this line. We’re not too busy, we just don’t make it a priority (also, I discovered that the “I’m too busy for xyz” line almost always translates to “I’m not making that a priority”).
“I can’t stop thinking” – This is a clear message that meditation is what your body sorely needs! Overthinking is merely a habit, just like all the others things we do in a day. But it is 100% possible to retrain your brain to not only settle into silence, but to LOVE it. And I’m speaking for experience on this!
There is a zen proverb that says:
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
Luckily for us there are many beautiful steps on the path to the perfect meditation practice, all of which provide ample benefits.
The Stepping Stones to Your Mindfulness Practice
Yoga Nidra Sleep Meditation – There are endless free recordings online to help decompress, quiet your mind, and breathe into all areas of your body, preparing you for restful sleep. This is a great place to start because it doesn’t take any time out of your day. When you’re ready for bed, just turn on a yoga nidra recording and drift off to peaceville.
Guided Morning Meditation – Guided meditations are a beautiful stepping stone to a solid practice. Filled with kind words, generally including some positive affirmations; short guided meditations are great for starting the day right. By listening to the voice of someone else, you can effectively quiet that little voice inside you. I post a new guided meditation on the Ombrella Facebook page every Tuesday and more can be found on the Ombrella wesbite.
Meditating on a Topic – This could otherwise be referred to as brainstorming, but with enhanced intention. Come to your meditation space – this could be the end of your bed, your living room carpet, your backyard, basically anywhere you won’t be disturbed by people or technology – and bring your notebook. Choose your topic (eg; my next blog post, my kid’s birthday party). Sit down and breathe, allowing thoughts on the topic to flow freely. As good ideas come up, break to jot them down so you can expand on them later. As unrelated thoughts come up, just let them go. Just a heads up – you might experience insane levels of creativity in these sessions!
Moving With Mindfulness – Choose a task that you complete without much thought, such as brushing your teeth, doing dishes, folding laundry, or eating. Now just remain mindful of you breath while doing that thing. This one was mind blowing for me. It is wild how many random, useless, and mostly negative thoughts I had floating around in my head when I actually paid attention to them. Now I’m getting pretty good at moving with mindfulness, catching myself in the thought spiral, and letting it go with a smile.
Timed Meditation – starting with 1 minute even. Set the timer on your phone so you don’t have to worry about whether you need to get up and check the clock. Just commit to breathing for that one minute. Then go to two. Then 5, and so on.
AND THEN – try going it alone, no guidance, no movement, no timer.
Do you have a secret to letting go and sitting in silence that wasn’t listed above? We’d love to hear about it. Share in the comments below.