I’ve decided to drink the meditation Kool Aid once and for all. Like many, I am someone who has tried meditation many times in my life – during difficult personal times when I felt desperate for peace and during strong times when I was a personal development warrior climbing my way to the enlightened summit (Note: Please notice the irony here.) However, in both circumstances, when things got easier in my life or when I became interested in something else, my practice faltered and therefore never stuck. Herein lies the sneaky part of meditation – it really only works if you practice regularly.
My default is to be a busy, achiever type so for a time I tried to create a meditation practice out of other kinds of activities – like running, spinning, hiking or yoga. ‘Get the most bang for your buck’ people know what I’m saying here. Why not get a two for one – enlightenment and peace with filling your daily exercise quota? Right?! In the beginning, it was great. I would just focus on the activity and be ‘in the moment’ and out of my head. After some time however, I noticed that these activities failed to quiet my mind. A short way into the activity, I’d find myself caught up in that web of thoughts, where I knew I spent way too much time.
I’m a pragmatic person at heart and I couldn’t deny the loads of studies that document how effective meditation is at addressing a number of health issues including anxiety, reducing overall stress and improving overall happiness and improving immune function. However, I knew that in order to reap these benefits, both for myself and in service of sharing these tools with my clients, I needed to figure out how to stick with something and really make it a habit.
From a coaching perspective, I know that many of us spend far too much time in our heads – and often very little time in the rest of our bodies. I know this because our bodies are quite wise – but we rarely listen to them because our brains can be so very loud. Helping clients take a breather from a busy brain can open up the space necessary for long stuck answers to float to the surface.
My journey towards a meditation practice is both very personal and continuing education for me. As a coach of others, it is critically important for me to practice what I preach to my clients and also crucial to be able to share these ideas and experiences as I support clients in making positive changes in their lives.
I’m on day 5 of my meditation journey and I’ve committed to sticking with it for at least 21 days – because the studies show that is how long it takes to build a habit. I’ll keep you posted and in the meantime, I would love for you to join me! Share your story on facebook or comment below!
Here are some of my current favorites and a few oldies:
Headspace – Short 10 minute meditations are led by a former Buddhist monk (also a Brit). Very down to earth and calming. Great animations to explain meditation and it’s benefits and the programs allow you to expand your practice over time.
Happier – Provides a web-based tool and app to track the things that you are grateful for (think tech version of a gratitude journal). They have just introduced a Meditation Vacation product to help people try on a practice for one week to see the benefits.
Fragrant Heart – Shared with me by a coaching colleague. All types of free meditations for whatever ails you. And, the leader is from New Zealand, which is just lovely to listen to.
Jack Kornfield and Thich Nhat Hahn introduced me to meditation about 10 years ago. They both have great books and audio programs with instructions and explanations and simple meditations built it. I highly recommend both.
Deborah Tyson is Boston-based Transition Coach. Learn more at mobilizecoaching.com.