Meditation for the Rest of Us

"I used to have a picture in my mind of what a meditator looked like. I am not that woman. Not by a long shot. But I do meditate every day and here’s why."

By Heather Bryant, M.Ed., Director of Innovation and Impact | May 09, 2016
Meditation Rest Us

I used to have a picture in my mind of what a meditator looked like. She would have long flowy hair and clothes, live in a picturesque nature filled space, and her face would always have a look of serene joy as she said “Namaste” to everyone who crossed her path.

I am not that woman. Not by a long shot. I frequently spill coffee on myself and somehow always manage to step in the cat vomit no matter where she throws up in the house. I’m a magnet for cat vomit. But I do meditate every day and here’s why. The science behind what it does for your brain and overall health and wellbeing is overwhelming.  Here’s one compelling article, but seriously – Google it. You’ll be stunned.

Meditation is the biggest player in my self-care tool kit. I started meditating when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and was having panic attacks. Meditating at one of the most stressful times in my life was honestly the LAST thing I wanted to do. But I was desperate and gave it a go. And it helped. A LOT. And I’ve more or less stuck with it over the last ten years.

Here’s what I notice when I’m consistent with meditation. I’m less: reactive, tired, grumpy and overwhelmed.  I’m more:  focused, happy, compassionate, and at ease. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference.

Lots of people are interested in trying meditation but don’t know how to get started. I’ll share my three current favorite tools.

The first is the app: 10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics

10Percent

Dan Harris, ABC correspondent and Nightline anchor, hosts this app.He also has a podcast by the same name. What I love about it is that there are short videos before each meditation that explain the ins and outs of the practice. Dan has assembled some of the finest meditation teachers around to lead the meditations. The first seven are free and then you pay $10.00 a month for unlimited access.

The second is the Headspace App.

Headspace

Andy Puddicombe hosts the meditations on this app. Andy makes the meditations easy and you feel like you have lots of support as you move through them. The first 10 are free and then there is a $12.99 a month fee for unlimited access. There is also a great Headspace blog with thought provoking articles. You can find it here.

My last favorite tool is a tiny book. It’s called How to Sit by Thich Nhat Hanh.

How To Sit

This book is 4”x6”. Each page has a short paragraph filled with such wisdom about meditation. Topics are things like: Following our Breath, Freedom, and Seeing Clearly. The directions are clear and simple. Anytime I need a little inspiration, I pull out this book and open to any page and am never disappointed.

If you’ve ever thought about giving mindfulness meditation a try, I hope you will.  It might change your life. It makes me a better person. Even when I step in cat vomit.