Be Still, Listen and Let Go:
My road to meditation started a few years ago when I received an invitation from an old friend to attend her early morning, guided meditation sessions at a local art center one year before the pandemic swept us away into social isolation. The initial draw to the invitation was not the practice of meditation itself, but to my old friend. I wondered if meditation was her secret to a consistent positive outlook, ease, and calm. Up to this point in my life, meditation was a foreign practice depicted only in books and movies and not in my immediate circle of connections and environment, unless you count the Breathe app (aka Mindfulness) on my Apple watch.
The path to a consistent practice of meditation was not straight for me. It was full of peaks, plateaus, and some very deep valleys, like many new habit-forming paths. The early morning sessions were laden with many misses by way of my usual excuses… “it’s too cold out”, or “I’m too tired”, and my favorite, “the dog needs to be walked”. Yet, I experienced a slow, steady hit of realization that meditation was impacting my day in a positive way. When the pandemic shut the world down, I searched for a new way to develop my meditation practice and to secretly escape the noise within a house of five trying to work, attend school, and live together 24/7. Ear pods at the ready and a quick download of the Calm app, I adjusted my path.
With Calm, I started with the “How To Meditate” 30-day series and on restless nights, incorporating a few sleep meditations and sleep stories into my routine. While I was off to a good start, I was not consistent. Consistency didn’t come until my niece mentioned a book called the 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma. The premise of the book is about owning your morning and by creating a structured and consistent morning routine you will experience greater productivity, creativity, health and happiness. Sharma’s book reminded me of a book I read years ago called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, which is similarly premised around how morning routines, or lack of, impact your life.
I decided to own my morning by creating a routine of meditation, journaling, walking the dog or going to the gym and reading a non-fiction book of interest for 20 minutes each morning. To successfully own my morning, I adjusted my bedtime by an hour, set my morning alarm an hour earlier, allocating enough time for my new routine to set the stage for a productive, calm and focused day. Meditation plays the leading role in my routine. Clearing my mind, focusing on my breath, sitting in silence, and hushing the cycle of chatter in my mind has brought an ease and sense of calm to my everyday life. I am thankful to my old friend for introducing mediation to me. Creating meaningful, lasting change is not always easy, and takes time. There are highs and lows. When I sleep-in or abbreviate my morning routine, my day is different. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s a feeling of being off, unbalanced, an uneasy feeling, which is that internal voice reminding me to get back into the routine of what feels good, what works and stick with it.
I have incorporated quick meditative exercises throughout my day, whether it be before a presentation, difficult conversation, exam or if I’m feeling scattered and need a break. This summer, my old friend invited me to a walking mediation, providing an opportunity to be in-tune with nature, to be active within our environment by listening and being where our feet are – in the moment, grounded, fully present, being and letting go.