Learning to meditate isn’t easy. As of today, I have 21 days under my belt – but here’s my story so far…
I recently turned 49 and for some reason felt compelled to do something cool and possibly life changing in my last year before turning the big 50. Having a somewhat pessimistic personality, I created some guidelines for what it was I was going to tackle, to ensure it was doable.
Whatever I started or tried needed to be:
- something I could commit to easily and maintain
- accessible and not cost a lot to get started
- make a positive impact on my life
My husband LOVES this kind of thing, so I asked him to help me out – I had been ruminating with a few ideas (taking up the piano again, getting out that sewing machine and finally learning to sew, knitting??) It took him 0.5 of a second to answer.
“Learn to Meditate”
hmmm – not bad. Certainly checks all the boxes – and wow that was fast. Clearly he had been sitting on that one awhile. 🙂
Yup – this was the “thing!” It was certainly something I could commit to and maintain – most meditations for beginners run between 10 and 15 minutes. I could get my head around that.
It was super accessible. Although we love to complain about technology, it has made things like learning a new skill pretty easy. Meditation is no exception. There are plenty of apps out there willing and able to guide you along. After a little research, I chose the CALM app. I committed to the $89.99 yearly fee because I felt that paying something would make me even more committed – and I also would have access to more detailed learning. This seemed like a reasonable price to pay for learning a new skill. If you are interested in learning to meditate, but can’t swing the investment, there are quite a few free apps available as well.
I was hopeful that learning to meditate would make a positive impact on my life and I was pretty certain it couldn’t ruin anything. I’ve never heard of a person saying it ruined their life to live more mindfully, or with gratitude.
Because my birthday is September 1, there was no time to overthink it – it was time to get going.
With my app downloaded, I eased my way in, starting with Your Daily Calm – a 7 day intro to meditation. This series averaged about 10 minutes in length and was a great introduction to sitting quietly with your thoughts. I have to say, the first 7 days were the easiest so far. Maybe because I was keen to commit.
So what have I learned while learning to meditate so far?
As I prefaced in the intro – but it is worth mentioning again, I’m only on Day 21. I’m hoping to be still going strong in a year, and to update you all next September with how Zen and stress free I am – but for now, I’ll just give you a snapshot of a few things I’m starting to notice.
HABITS CAN BE GOOD
First – I am beginning to recognize the start of a habit. I haven’t missed a day – and if I don’t do it first thing in the morning, it is on my mind until it is done. I think this is a good thing?
LEARNING NEW THINGS CAN BE GOOD
I look forward to the time I spend with CALM. Some people refer to meditating as “coming to the mat.” I’m certainly NOT there with the lingo, because that feels weird to me, but I am enjoying my time. I’ve always felt that I am a lifelong learner and I’m excited to see what each day is going to bring in terms of learning. The relatable stories and quotes make me feel smarter when I finish 🙂
I’ve become more aware. More aware of my thoughts, more aware of my own self talk and more aware of how much energy can be spent on thoughts and emotions that don’t serve you well.
GETTING RID OF ANXIETY CAN BE GOOD
I’ve been able to customize my “program” for what I would consider my weaknesses. Currently, I am working through “21 Days of Calm” with a focus on anxiety. The cues are helping me not be perfect and not get rid of anxious thought, but to recognize and accept the thoughts with the goal being to let them go. While this is, of course, a much longer than 21 day process, just recognizing and acknowledging thoughts can be a huge thing.
GETTING RID OF BRAIN FOG CAN BE GOOD
My brain is feeling less cluttered already! One of the gifts of menopause is brain fog. We’ve all heard the stories of mid life women entering a room only to forget why. That is ME. I forget what I want to say mid sentence, I am so easily distracted and I have trouble sometimes finding the words I want to use in day to day conversation. UGH – I hate this about menopause. And I think, just maybe, meditation is helping with that a little.
LEARNING TO MEDITATE IS HARD
Let’s be real – meditation is hard. OMG, some days I have so many things racing around my brain that I feel my time spent in meditation is a waste. Staying focused on the breath, or the task at hand is difficult and to be honest at Day 21 it hasn’t gotten any easier. So I’m hoping that it is something that comes with time. At this point my brain gets pretty tired because I’m always pulling myself back in.
SOMETIMES I DON’T WANT TO
I am not a person that likes to sit still – and it is hard for me to commit to even 5 minutes, let alone 15. There are days when I don’t want to do it. But I tell myself that there are days when I don’t want to work out either, and I always feel better after I do.
But – here’s the number one thing I’ve learned while learning to meditate…
I get to be gentle with myself. I get to spend a small amount of time each day reminding myself that it is OK.
It is OK to have thoughts swirling around, and to have to bring yourself back even 100 times in a session. I am being encouraged to acknowledge my thoughts without judgement. I am learning to be kind to myself. I am learning to accept myself just as I am.
I’m figuring out – it’s ok Christine – it’s ok to be perfectly imperfect.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.LAO TZU
If you want to check out other musings on mid life – check out Danni’s reflections on her 40’s HERE.