This winter felt like another heavy brick added to the growing wall of what was 2020. Admittedly this weather, continued quarantine restrictions, and lack of social interactions has created an eerie undertone of depression, and I have let things slip through the cracks, including my blog. Seeing the bright sunshine on the 2nd day of March has put me on a personal mission to turn things around and put my mind in a better and more positive place.
Meditation: the bane of every type A’s existence! The concept of quieting your mind and focusing on “the breath” may seem unattainable since the past year has kept us glued to the news cycle of pandemics and politics, but the positive impacts of practicing meditation cannot be debated. Everything from decreased blood pressure, to reduced frequency of migraines, to decreased gastric distress are all well-known benefits, but for me, the practice of meditation has helped me stay present and grateful. I have come to realize that my personal anxieties and depression live solely in the future, and after just two weeks of meditation, I can honestly say my ability to keep myself in the moment has dramatically improved and so has my overall mood and attitude.
I am now fourteen days into my meditation quest and am using the 10% Happier app. The last lesson I completed was about how meditation can help one slow down and think through decisions as they are happening versus only reflecting on them afterwards. This can have a direct impact on health goals, since thinking through food choices and healthy behaviors in the present leads to better choices. My clients tell me how they regret eating certain foods because “they were not worth it.” Imagine if you could tell yourself that before you eat or ask yourself in the moment, “Is this food worth slowing down my weight loss progress?” This is a skill many would pay a great deal of money for, but I will be the first to tell you, this skill takes practice. It takes slowing down… it takes meditation.
To begin gaining the benefits of meditation, you should find a time of day that works best for you to be quiet and still for roughly 5-10 minutes. Of course, you will progress faster if you can practice daily, which is true for most skill development, but personally I aim for three to four days a week, with the ultimate goal of practicing every day. In a world of constant motion and evolving schedules, it is important to set realistic expectations. Do not give up on learning meditation if you cannot practice it every day. In talking about meditation with my clients, I have found that people give up on the practice if they miss a day or two. Meditation is part of your health journey and will most likely ebb and flow in frequency over the weeks and years, and this is perfectly fine. Again, any time you can set aside to practice slowing your mind down and focusing on your breathing will help both your physical and mental health, regardless of frequency.
The world is slowly coming back to life, and before you know it, we will be back to social gatherings, busy school schedules, and commuting to and from work. Meditation can not only help you with that transition but can inspire you to bring mental calmness and focus with you in all phases of life. Join me on my continuing quest to lift my spirits and move forward with gratitude and positivity as we move out from under the rock of winter and a global pandemic. I encourage you to use the extra time you have now to incorporate what I consider to be the most underutilized health tool into your daily routine.
In Health & Happiness, Jessica