Friday, October 19, 2018

MY (VERY NEW + VERY AMATUER) MEDITATION PRACTICE.


This is a story all about how I sit on the floor of my closet each morning, next to our laundy basket, door cracked juust enough to let some light in (so I'm not scared of the dark, you know) and how I close my eyes for 10 minutes a day and it's legit, changed MY LIFE. I'm never dramatic, unless it's something that I just REALLY, REALLY think everyone should be doing too (ask John) - and this is that, so sorry!

But, OMG.

MEDITIATION.

The first time I tried it was about a year ago actually. We got some guided meditations on Beachbody on Demand, and I liked them. But really didn't feeeel like I had the time each day, and definitely didn't understand what I was supposed to be getting from it. I thought meditating was like..waiting for a sign from the universe, or something. And I was into that idea, for sure, but sitting around and waiting for a sign, can take forever. I had read a book once, a long time ago, about this hippy guy who mediated for like, DAYS in the woods and his whole message was - like, 'just let life happen.' And he actually became some kind of millionare, but he'd just mediate all day, every day and then just walk into all these perfect oportunities in life and met all the right people, just by - like..."letting life happen to him." (That's me eye rolling, lol. Even though, YOU MAY BE EYE ROLLING AT ME TOO.)

So, when I started mediating, I think I was trying to find guidance specifically. And there were a few times that I thought I got a message, from like - somewhere within me. (From that person that I'm always trying to get a hold of, the one that's the best, most smartest, happiest version of me.) But most of the time, not much would happen except me getting frustrated at myself for not being able to shut up. I overthink, sort of on the obsessive side. And my brain looooves to make up stories, and dwell on things that have happened in the past, or conversations that never happened. Et cetera. 

And I can't explain it...but something within the past few months has brought me back. And this is SO MOTHER EARTHY of me, but I swear, it's the new baby. I feel this crazy spiritual change happening within me, and I think it all started with her. For one, the night I found out I was pregnant, I was meditating. I had run around all day long, was crazy exhuasted from traveling with a toddler, and had an hour in-between the ceremony from the wedding I had just been at, and the reception. I was sitting in the car in the church parking lot (alone, John was in the wedding party) and decided to just, sit and breath for a while. I reclined the seat back, put a timer on my phone and closed my eyes. It definitely helped relax me, but the thing I kept going back to were how uncomfortable my Spanx were. They felt super restrictive, and I had this weird, instinctive feeling that they were, like harming me. (In a non-dramatic way, ok.) And that's when I knew I was pregnant. I drove to Target right then and there, bought a test and took it at the reception, lol! (Also, bought a new pair of underwear so I could ditch the Spanx, fyi / tmi.) Another reason I knew? The Target was on Joy Road, and "joy" was this word that kept coming up over, and over again. I couldn't really explain why. And THIS is super embarrassing, ok - but over the summer Costco was taking donations for the Childrens Hospital, and I'd donate like, every week, because I was there every week. And every time, they would have me sign this ballon thing that they were decorating the store with. And after I had signed, "John, Morgan, Emily," and run out of names...one day, I wrote down..."Joy." (crazypersoncrazypersoncrazyperson.)

I didn't even tell John that, because hello, CRAZY PERSON. But I really do think it's all connected.

The baby, the meditation, joy.

For as long as I can remember, I've been fighting to learn how to just BE happy. And there have been times where I've convinced myself that I was, but I think it was mostly a cover - more like, controlled happiness. Like, if I SAID I was happy and looked the part, then maybe I was? A fake it-till you make it approach...

But I mostly wasn't. It's hard for me. And earlier this summer, I REALLY, REALLY wasn't. I hit this wall where pretending I was happy, was only making me more unhappy. And I had realized (through personal development people) that I was doing it to myself. I was trying too hard, and reaching for shiny things and looking for my self-worth and approval in other people. I was putting in what I thought was all this work to BE HAPPY. But I was really waiting around to be good enough to be happy. And I think it all really hit me after Emily turned one and I started to look back on the past year, and I realized that I spent a whole year of my life just fighting with myself. Not that all the other years didn't matter, but this was a year that was / is going to be pretty important in the grande scheme of my life. And instead of just being happy because like, what in the world did I have to be unhappy about, I spent so much of it mad at myself for not being happy enough, while also trying to ignore the fact that I wasn't and convince myself that I was. (This is complicated, ok lol..) Through my resistance to become "just another Mom" and even on my journey back to my "pre-baby" body - it was a lot of me, fighting for what I thought I needed to be happy.

I started to see all these Facebook "Timehop" reminders of moments when I looked happy, but I wasn't...


And this one in particular one day, really choked me up.

I remember trying to convey that I was this inspirational and strong SUPER MOM who could fit in her jeans 6 months postpartum and was just, super cool + laughing my way through this new Motherhood thing. When in real life, I was just playing a part. Showing up on social media with a big smile on my face to prove I was "so happy," while I was really only trying to prove to myself that I was happy by my size, and I was irritated that Emily wasn't cooperating so I threw her over my shoulder like this so you couldn't tell she was actually crying.

...which makes me cry now.

I tried so hard, for so long. (Long before this too.)

So, what was THE FUCKING SECRET???

Where did happiness come from if it didn't come from, forcing it? Or buying it or waiting for someone, or something else to present it to you???

MEDITATION. 

Lol, #dramatic but it starts there. After my experience over the past month, I AM SURE OF IT. What I never got from meditation before was that it's not about waiting for anwers, it's more about releasing the bullshit. Ok, maybe not "releasing" it, but...silencing it. It's learning to shut off the conversations in your head THAT ARE NOT REAL. All that lingering guilt you carry around from the past, and anticipation about the future. (For me, not being good enough.) That's what will kill any hope for your happiness right now.

Because, I think it's all about the now. 

I've spent so much of my life in fast forward, worried about the next thing. What can I do next to be better? I think it's unconciously why a few months ago, I vowed to stop making to-do lists. I realized that I was just chasing them down, and then feeling inadequate when I wouldn't finish them. Then I slowly started to throw away all my planners, and notebooks that had any kind agenda in them. I stopped using an alarm clock, and started working out on mornings that I FELT like it, instead of planning my life around it. (This is debatable, but also, I'm twisted so I could argue it either way.) And on the contrary, I think I probably think more about the past than the average person too. Just today, as I was driving home, I caught myself practicing this huge apology speech to someone that I wronged TEN YEARS AGO. (NOT in my life anymore.) And I do that shit ALL THE TIME. I think it has something to do with guilt, and regret..and me thinking I'd be happy "if only" I had this perfect past and never wronged anyone, or made a bad choice. Blah, blah.

So, essentially - I've RARELY spent any actual time being present, until recently.

It's like, have you ever looked forward to an event / date / concert / wedding, whatever. And it just wasn't as much fun as you expected it to be? (In your head, lol?) And then have you ever done something totally random and last-minute, that turned out to be one of the best nights of your life? THAT'S IT. It's when life happens. (Like the old hippy man said, LOLOL EYEROLL OK.)

It's when someone tells a joke, and you actually LAUGH. It brings you into that present moment, completely. Not thinking in the past, or in the future at all. That's fucking joy. And can you imagine living in THAT kind of present moment all the time? Sure it won't always be laughing and jokes - life is messy and hard too. But, that's part of it. Letting those moments happen when they do, and having the mental clarity and energy to deal with them. (Without avoidance or alcohal or food, etc.)

I first noticed a difference one afternoon when I was sitting on the kitchen floor with a whiny Emily, and while normally I would have been super annoyed and had little patience with her (because I had things to do), I was CALM. And it was wild to me! But I didn't have anywhere else to "be," and I had no other (real or imaginery) agenda. And, as we sat there and I stared at her, it was almost like I was seeing her for the very first time in a weird (sad) way. Without rushing through the moment, or paying half attention to some thought or story line in my head, I was actually there with her. Happened again when John and I went out for our anniversary last week. I slowed down and enjoyed every single second of it, in a way that I never would have been able to before. Even on the drive there, through horrible downtown traffic, instead of zoning out and just waiting to get there, I stayed completely present and tried to enjoy the hour we had together. In meditation you learn it's not always about the end result (the "answers," etc), but what happens on the way "there."

SO ANYWAYS.

Meditation! It's the secret! Start there, and you'll learn what's keeping you from living in happiness. It's why I backed off the social media scene. I realized it was a huge part of what was keeping me from living in the present, and disconnected me from my own life. (Other people, storylines, me judging myself harshly against everyone else, in my head, all the time = just not good for me.)



And since I got into big time, backstory / story-telling mode - I'll keep the actual "practice" short here. Which is pretty easy because I'm extremely new to this, and don't have all the answers. But here's what I do!

- I meditate for 10 minutes, every morning after I get out of bed and make sure that I'm actually awake enough to not fall back asleep. I usually chug some water, and at least brush my teeth. Sometimes, I'll put the coffee on so I have an incentive to hurry, lol. For me, ten minutes is golden. But, I suppose that probably changes in time.

- I've noticed the biggest difference when I do it first thing in the morning, so I really try to make that happen, but if I can't, I take whatever is my first opportunity. (Sometimes, it's putting on Sesame Street and walking away, lol..) Night time is not good for me. It brings me too much into the now, and I all of a sudden feel too aware, and almost itchy to sleep.

- I personally think sitting on the floor works the best, since I'm not toooo too comfortable. Some people can meditate on the couch, etc - but that doesn't work as well for me. I have a bad back, so I sit up against the wall, my middle back lightly supported and I usually just keep my hands on my knees.

- QUIET SPACE. Closet is probably your best bet if you're a Mom or live with a spouse who thinks you're a hippy.

- Also, darkness helps.

- And then I think the biggest game changer for me was finally pulling the trigger and getting the Headspace App. It's pricey (I think) at $13/month, but I can say now that it's 100% worth it. It has a ton of beginner series as well as everything from pregnancy meditation to coping with cancer to happiness (bingo), and what I find super helpful is that there are these little cartoon animations you watch, where you can sort of visualize what meditation is. I had no idea how to not attach myself to the thoughts that came up until I watched this animation where they showed how it was like sitting on the side of the road and watching cars go by. You can chase them down and try to jump in, or you can just sit back and watch them drive by.

And lastly, CONSISTENCY!!! I think it took me a week of doing it every morning before I noticed a difference. And give yourself a lot of grace. You won't be instantly healed, and you won't be perfect. (I cursed at Emily tonight, lol.) But it's the brain, it's pretty much a muscle. (It's actually not, lol.) I think it's hands down, the best learning tool I've had to deal with the actual roots of my depression, and like I said - it's not about the end result, because WHAT IS THE END EVEN? But it's what happens on the way there, all that 'in the now' stuff.

Try it, xx. 

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