21 DAYS OF MEDITATION

There’s a lot of mixed science out there with how long it takes to form a habit. Some say 21 days for simple activities and much longer for others. Well, regardless of whether I have formed a habit or not, today, April 16th, was my 21st day in a row of waking up and meditating.

THE START

I found myself naturally fall back into meditating when this all began. Meditation has been in and out of my life for a decade. I would have moments when it was easy and exactly what I needed and then months where I never even thought about it. This time it all began because someone at work mentioned she went to a meditation class. I have been attending a lot of Shaman workshops and so my mind hadn’t even thought of meditation in a while. Apparently just hearing that she tried it woke up something inside me.

The next morning, I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier…and over slept.

But the day after that, I woke up 30 minutes earlier, found a spot of the floor and shut my eyes.

THE WORK

Each day I started the same way. I woke up, showered, made my coffee, took a few moments, then sat on a cushion on the floor. The first week I only followed my breath. I felt every vertebra in my spine wince and slouch but I just kept straightening my back…or getting closer to a wall…and following my breath.

As the days went on, I started to mix in some guided meditations too. I even made some of my own. Sometimes the guided ones were exactly what I needed because my brain needed a trellis to grow through. Other days all I wanted to do was listen, feel, taste, and touch my breath. These are the days I felt I came closer to myself. I could feel myself…sinking into…myself. Weird right? The vantage point started to change.

Continuing, the thoughts that started to surface seemed to have more meaning. They weren’t just plans for the day, anxiety about tomorrow, or a rehashing of yesterday. That was new for me. At that point I started to keep a journal next to me so that when I was done, if something popped up that I thought felt important, I could write it.

I also started to play with my senses when these things came out. For example, one day I started from my root and worked up each chakra: What does this chakra sound like? Feel Like? Look like? I didn’t question it. I just let the first cloud of thought drift in with an answer and drift away just as easily. That day I am convinced I learned more about my body and self than I ever had. Not because I did something, but because I just sat and listened.

THE BENEFITS

I was really interested in seeing when my practice would start to bleed into the rest of my life. Unfortunately, there was no massive moment at work where I jumped out of my chair and realized I did something because I meditated. Nor did all my life’s problems end in 21 days. But what started to happen was that I was working smarter. I felt in control of my work day. Moreover, I felt in control of my emotions. The stress of others remained theirs. I didn’t take on anyone else’s anger, I was instead sitting in my own work, breathing, and doing it. My to do list was growing longer, but so were the lines crossing tasks off. I started to parse out projects better and control my time to get them done. I don’t think I truly realized that until a few days ago when it really kicked in.

21 DAYS IN REVIEW

Moving through this program, I started to go to sleep eager to meditate in the morning. Excited for a chance to recalibrate. Moreover, when I used to try and meditate after work, life would always get in the way. I would stress about it at work. Will I have time? Will I have the energy? Can’t I just go get a drink instead? But for me, starting my day like this was much easier than ending it that way. But that’s just what worked for me and my own rhythms.

So even if 21 days isn’t the sure rule for when a habit forms, it was a milestone for me. Each day I wondered what it would feel like on the 21st day. Now I wonder what it will feel like on the 90th and 180th. All the times in my life that I made a conscious effort to start failed, this time it seemed to just appear to me.

If you are meditating regularly, or want to start, I would love to hear your story and what you are doing about it.

Just keep sitting.

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Disconnect to Connect

I reached out to poll people about what they found difficult or hard about being a millennial / living in this time. One of the broad categories reported dealt with the fact that:

WE ARE ALWAYS ONLINE 

 

Do you remember when we had “away messages.” They meant we were not online because we were living our lives. Going online was a choice

Now it seems we are constantly online and away messages have become a thing of the past. As a kid, when you were done sitting on AIM (yeah, I brought back AIM), you went to hang out with your friends, eat dinner, or do something with other humans.

Now if you are talking to someone online and leave your computer, you get the same notification on your phone. Or maybe you never even sat down at a computer to start the conversation everything started on your phone. Moreover, we take our phones everywhere…no really…everywhere. We even poop holding onto our cell phones. I know people who will shower with their phone on speaker.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? 

The more “connected” we are online, the more “disconnected” we become everywhere else in life. Think about the “phantom vibration” when you feel your cell phone buzzing in your pocket but it’s really next to you. Think about what it feels like to have your phone’s screen flash on every time you get an email, text, or notification. For me, every time my phone went off I would disappear. Not physically, although that would be interesting, but mentally. My focus would shift from the person I was in front of to the email that was popping up on my phone. All of the sudden I wasn’t fully present for them. Technology started to connect me to more people but less deeply to those in front of me. Energetically, I was jetting everywhere at once with no boundaries or framework.

WHAT DOES THIS TRIGGER? 

The next time you go to a bar or restaurant look around and see how many people have their phones out.

How many couples are sitting across from each other with their eyes focused down on their screens?

When you go on a date with someone do you think about if you could make this work? Or do you focus on the fact that if this person isn’t right there is a tiled screen of other suitors sitting in your pocket?

When you are out with your friends, are you there? O are you making other plans for later? Did you even commit to this time before seeing if anyone else was doing anything better?

Technology, I think, has triggered us to always be conscious of the fact that there is another option. While in some cases that’s great to know you have more / better options, it also means a different amount of effort is put into your current situation.

From an energy standpoint, this also triggers disparate pathways. We are shooting in all directions but not pulling our energy in to focus on what’s in front of us: that which is actually here right now.

Our new motto is, “If it’s not on Instagram, it never happened.”

LET’S CREATE A NEW MOTTO 

I feel it, it’s happening. 

When we aren’t present, we don’t feel. The more we pull ourselves in different directions, the less we are here to feel what is happening in our lives. Think about when you are out with a friend. What does it feel like to be fully with them. There, in that moment, just the two of you, what does it feel like? That’s how I know I am truly there and something is happening, I can feel. Sometimes life hurts, sometimes it’s incredible, but feeling all of it is part of living. I want to #FeelIt.

WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DEAL WITH THIS? 

  • “Do not disturb”
    • I always have the little moon on my phone
    • Disable all notifications from making my screen turn on
    • I put a few people as a favorites on my phone to allow calls from them
    • If am expecting a call, I turn it off.
    • The benefit of this is that I choose when notifications enter my life. Instead of the screen controlling my attention and energy, I now make a choice when to look at it
  • Schedule
    • In order for me to be present, I need to schedule other things to not get in the way and allow me to be on time and in the right frame of mind for everyone in my life
    • This means that I schedule my life to give each piece it’s due respect
    • In that light, I avoid back to back plans so that I can be present for everything I commit to
    • I don’t want my energy focused on where I am going next or when I need to leave, I like to give that person my respect by being fully present for them
    • The benefit of this is that I listen to the person and appreciate our time together without thinking of what I am doing next
  • Self-Care
    • Sounds trite, but it’s important
    • I had to decide what Self-Care looked like for me and keep it up (that could be meditation, Reiki, shamanic journeying, mindfulness, a walk, cooking, dancing, etc.)
    • Whatever I can do to make myself feel good and present is necessary
    • If I don’t know what it’s like to feel fully present and happy (a) how can I give that to someone else, and (b) how will I have something to model my emotions around?
    • The benefit of this is that I learn what feels good to me and can fill my life with more of that

I’m sure every generation has dealt with something similar but this is just our current obstacle.

What do you do to help you disconnect to better connect?

Let’s feel it, together! 

That’s Not Mine

Life is tough enough with our stress, now you want to throw yours at me too? Oh no.

Let’s walk through a scenario: your day is fine and then you start chatting with someone. They start sharing all of their misfortunes. You try to comfort them, maybe share some of your own, and then slowly the conversation ends. Later on in the day, you realize that you aren’t in the best mood. You’re getting stressed, irritable, and everything is a little harder than it usually is. By the end of the day, you’re dying for a cocktail to take away the stress and you don’t know how your day went from being positive at 9am to a dark hole by 5pm.

This is what happens when people, unknowingly, start throwing their own stress at others. In this situation we can call it stress but we can call it energy, juju, shit, whatever makes sense to you. For me I call it energy. It can take many forms sometimes it’s their happiness, sadness, anger, you name it and it can travel in energy.

It’s important to note that people typically don’t mean to do this. Hopefully someone isn’t looking you in the eye and making a conscious decision to throw their anger all at you.

The Question: How can we guard against this?

The Answer:  Recognition, Prevention, Letting Go

RECOGNITION

The first step is just recognizing that it’s happening. When you’re with someone, pay attention to your reactions to what they are sharing and their presence. Sometimes people do this verbally, other times it’s unconscious.

  • How do you feel right now with them?
  • How did I feel before?
  • Do I feel this way? Or am I feeling their energy? You will recognize your own energy once you pay attention to it. You naturally detect what’s yours and what isn’t.

Once you can recognize the exchange, you can start to manage it. There’s nothing wrong with exchanging energy, we do it all the time. The problem is when 5 hours later, the energy is still holding you down and it’s not even yours!

PREVENTION

Preventing this from happening starts with really getting good at recognizing it so you can stop it before it starts. If someone is talking to you and the air in the room is getting thicker and you feel yourself starting to slip out of your current emotional space it’s time to go to work.

You can’t stop someone from doing this, but you can stop it from getting you down. Once you know it’s happening you will naturally listen differently. Their words won’t dig into your space but merely just pass by. When a friend is grieving for example, you can be there for them, listen, console, but still make sure that their grief isn’t sitting in your stomach making you sick the next day. It’s hard, but the reality is that we cannot take grief and pain away from our friends. Instead, we can witness it and be there for them as they process. Plus, if it starts to affect you then you became less capable of being there for them because you start to experience the same trauma.

LETTING GO

Now, when you recognize that you are in a mood because of energy that doesn’t belong to you, you can let it go. Remember this is just energy. It’s not an attack on you and it’s not trying to hurt you. So your job isn’t to battle it like a warrior, just recognize it and allow it to go. If you’re into it, send it some love too while you’re at it.

The crazy thing is, half the time, it doesn’t leave because we start to tend to it and make it grow ourselves. Think about it, someone tells you how angry they are, but you weren’t a second ago. Now you’re angry. Now you find something else to be angry about. Then the two grow together. The anger didn’t live in you before, but now you’re helping it to grow! So let’s talk about the letting go. This will look differently for different people. These are some ways I’ve done it.

  • Write down the stresser/feeling. Walk into the bathroom. Pull out a lighter. Light that thing on fire and drop it in the sink or toilet. (I don’t have a fireplace clearly, so I make do with what I have.)
  • Take a deep breath. Hold it at the top and let it become infused with all of the emotion/energy. Then exhale it out. If you are at your desk or in a crowded space this is sometimes the best route. If you are alone and doing this maybe your exhale becomes more dramatic. Stick your tongue out. Sigh as loudly as possible. Let it allllll out! Do this a few times until you feel it pass. I like to do a nice “lions breath” (If you don’t know what that is, have fun google imaging that) You see why I said to do that part in private?
  • Take a second and think about this energy that is sitting with you. Where is it on your body? When you think about it, can you locate a place on your body where it’s living? What does it feel like? Is it warm? Cold? Sit with it. What about now, did it move? Does it feel differently? Sometimes just doing this will allow it to leave your space. The first time I did this was a pretty interesting experience.
  • Simply say to yourself “this is not mine, you don’t need to stay with me, you can go.” I probably do this the most because all of the sudden I’ll be going through my day and realize that something I am feeling is not mine. In that moment, I’ll literally stop what I’m doing and go “woah woah woah, that’s not mine! Here’s some love and light, I hope you can see yourself out.” I usually imagine light moving into it at the same time. I don’t want to chase it away but give it light and allow it to find its way out of me

So the next time you start to feel stressed or frustrated take a second and think…is this really mine?

If it’s not yours, then let it go!