How I started a meditation routine that changed my life – and how I stuck to it for over a decade.
Who doesn’t know the following scenario? We are having a bad week, we are stressed out and decide that it is enough. We are familiar with the whole mindfulness concept, because of course we are. Therefore, we are more than happy with ourselves when we decide to try meditation and just give it a go. We sit down, close our eyes and get excited because this could work. Breathing in, breathing out. We are just focusing on our breathing. No, actually on nothing at all. Right? Hmmm, now that we think of it, wasn’t there this important work issue? Oh, and the payment for the car insurance was due ages ago. But worst of all, we still haven’t called back our mom (*insert person whom you've been ignoring) all week. Well, turns out meditation might not be for us, after all. At least we tried. Sounds familiar? Yeah. We’ve all been there.
FIRST, YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Meditation can be this fantasy concept of sitting still, thinking about nothing. It can be frustrating and frankly, quite intimidating when we don’t know how to start. Or even worse, when we did start but had nothing but a humbling experience.
Secondly, there is not one right way to meditate. Did you know that there are dozens if not hundreds of different ways to meditate? There are mantra meditations, breathing meditations, guided meditations, walking meditations, music meditations and so much more.
GET CLEAR ON YOUR "WHY?"
Meditation is known for its countless positive effects – mind and body. It has the power to rewire our brain and reprogram our mind. Not only does it quiet the never ending chit-chat our brain loves to produce all day, but it also has immense power to shift our mood and emotions, if applied correctly.
Over the first few years I struggled immensely to stick to my daily meditation routine. Some days it was working great, others not at all. On the worst days it left me feeling defeated and beating myself up internally for not doing better. Long story short, I had a meditation practice that was on-and-off at best.
Then came the first step that changed everything.
I got clear on my WHY. I sat down and reflected on the question what I actually wanted to get out of my meditation. Feel less stressed? Quiet my mind? Work through old trauma? Feel more grateful? More connected to the world? The Universe?
The thing is, as soon as I got clear on my WHY, I was able to see that it was, in fact, always changing. Always.
Think about it. On some days you might be stressed out because of your work. On other days you feel that just a little more gratitude would do the trick. Our needs and emotions are always changing, just like the phases of the moon.
For me, having this insight was the one remedy I never knew I needed. Of course trying to do the same thing, the same meditation, the same practice every day wouldn’t work. Because every day, every feeling, every mindset demands a different approach.
KNOW YOUR TOOLS
The second part that changed my meditation routine for good was getting clear about the fact that there is not one right way to meditate. I tried out dozens and dozens of different forms of meditations and slowly, step by step, day by day, out of this overwhelming ocean of possibilities, distilled a small pool of practices that work for me.
Mind you, not every practice works every day. Depending on my mood, my emotions, my mindset, I choose the one that fits best on that particular day. See how all of it comes back in a full circle?
VISUALIZATION, MY BEST FRIEND
Personally, I discovered that meditations evolving only around emptying my mind, thinking about nothing or focusing solely on breathing, hardly ever work for me. I have found my true and very best friend in visualization meditations. Visuali-What? Yeah, just bear with me for one moment longer.
In this form of meditation you visualize specific scenes in your head. Like kind of watching a movie with your inner eye.
The great advantage of this exercise is that the visualization just takes the pressure off. There is no need to stress your mind about the absentness of thought. Quite the contrary!
You are inviting grand thoughts! You are witnessing beautiful movies unfold within your mind, able to choose from a broad variety. You can focus on gratitude, slowing down, healing inner wounds, being present, connecting to your body and so, so much more. You are training your mind like never before, reconditioning it in the process. Supporting it in forming new patterns and connections that help you to produce positive thoughts and feelings easier and more frequently. Truly, visualization meditation has changed my life, and I hope that it can do the same for you, too.
PATIENCE - WITH YOUR PRACTICE, AND YOURSELF
Last but not least, another key ingredient that helped me develop a lasting meditation routine, is patience. Patience with my practice – and even more importantly, myself. It’s so easy to spiral down a negative path once you feel your routine slip. Keep going. Accept that you are not a machine. You don’t have to be. You are human. Accept that you don’t have to be perfect, and neither does your practice. Your meditation routine can be flawed. If you skipped a day, a week or a month, it’s no reason whatsoever to give up. Just come back to your practice as soon as you can.
Personally, I feel that having tons of patience and compassion with myself amped up my practice in the most beautiful of ways. Through letting myself off the hook, I loved coming back to my meditations even more. I did them more frequently and enjoyed them so much more.
In my next blog post I’m going to share my all-time favorite visualization meditation that had the most profound impact on my life. See you there!
If you have any questions or thoughts I'm more than happy to hear from you. Don't hesitate to reach out via email@example.com