A Therapist's Experience of Mindful Meditation
April 3, 2019
6 am… my alarm clock goes off. By my alarm, I mean my 9 month old daughter. Diaper change, make a bottle of milk, feed her, make my husband’s coffee before his long day of work, try to keep my daughter happy while I clean a little from the night before, start some laundry from the pile, check my email, run after my daughter chasing the dog, try to make some coffee for myself…
Does your morning have a similar flavor? Maybe you don’t have kids but you hit the ground running as soon as your alarm goes off. Maybe the thoughts start their racing hamster wheel as soon as you open your eyes. Especially in today’s culture of do more with less, I find it hard to cultivate a sense of peace and calm in the midst of life’s daily activities. And yet, living peacefully connected to myself and others, having a grounded sense of being in the world, is something I very much desire.
When we go through transitions, like becoming a parent, entering a new relationship, leaving a relationship, moving somewhere different – life shifts and it can take some time to feel grounded again. It can take some time to feel like ourselves again. And even in the ongoings of normal life, we can lose touch with ourselves, what we truly feel and think, in the midst of our daily tasks. Of course there are many different ways we each find a sense of grounding, none better than the other.
For myself, I am trying some guided mindfulness meditation. Meditation can be done in many different ways and is distinct from mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment” <https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner>. Mindful meditation is one type of meditation. We have all probably heard the different benefits of mindfulness meditation – reduced rumination of thoughts, stress reduction, focus, less emotional reactivity, relationship satisfaction, and increased immune functioning, among others <https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner>. And yet, who do you know personally who practices mindfulness or meditation on a regular basis? I can’t think of any friends or family members who do. As I reflect on myself, sticking to any regular practice of something in my life has been difficult; whether it be exercise or a certain way of eating, journaling, or a hobby. Being disciplined can be difficult. The benefits of any kind of disciplined practice are not always immediate and require us to show up again and again, with consistent commitment even when we feel otherwise. Though the benefits are not always immediately apparent, I do suspect that they are often more long lasting and what we learn about ourselves in the process is definitely worthwhile.
It’s taken me a while to finally commit to doing some regular mindful meditation. I have been thinking about it on and off for the past year or so. I am not sure why I have been able to commit to it now. Maybe because I needed it. I needed something to ground me as a new mom, with many new responsibilities and stresses. I have committed to doing 10 minutes or less of mindful meditation a day using the Insight Timer app <https://insighttimer.com/meditation-app>. There are many great meditation apps you can find these days. I like this one, because it is free, and you can search for any type of meditation you are looking for, and you can search by how much time you have. I listen to a guided mindful meditation when my daughter goes down for her first nap. I have started to look forward to this time, just for myself. Some days it is extremely relaxing, peaceful, and feels just like I imagined meditating would. Other days, every 30 seconds I feel like I am fighting off thoughts of my to do list, worries about the day, or just having difficulty focusing. How easy it can be to be hard on ourselves when we feel like we’re not doing something right or it’s not coming easy to us. But I am trying to mindfully notice this part of myself that is hard on me without judgment. It is there for a reason. I can notice it for a moment and then mindfully bring my attention back to the focus of my meditation.
The more I practice this simple mindfulness the more I feel connected with myself and less tossed back and forth by all the thoughts and worries that come my way each day; they do not determine my day but what I chose to bring attention to does. I hope to keep showing up for my 10 minute commitment each day and hope to increase past 10 minutes eventually; but I know some days I will not. And that’s ok. It is a practice of discipline, which I know does not come easily to me. But it is still a worthwhile practice even if it’s not done perfectly. It is still a moment of showing up to connect with myself, in hopes of getting in touch with that deeper part of myself, the part that is wise, grounded, compassionate, loving… the core self inside all of us. It is a way to take care of myself.
What helps you feel grounded and connected to yourself? What practice would you like to commit to that would feel worthwhile even if not done perfectly?
Spend a moment with your deeper self today.
Written by Kristen Garcia, LMFT