On January 19, 2021, I set out to strengthen my yoga practice by focusing on meditation. I wanted to see what would happen if I meditated every day for at least twenty-five minutes for an extended period of time. I wanted to see for myself if the act of extended meditation would indeed really have any effect on me. I didn’t set a specific end date for this experiment, the only parameters I set were that it had to be every day. No stopping or making excuses on weekends or busy days, or anything. I was committed to meditating every single morning. So, I began this experiment and my journey.
As an aside, little did I know, my best friend would have a life-threatening heart attack 2.5 weeks into my meditation experiment. However, I did not let that stop my focus on my practice and, in fact, the time on my mat leading up to her heart attack probably helped prepare me to be better equipped to handle the devastating situation. It also encouraged me to record and send her daily personalized meditations which helped her through her hospital stay and initial recovery. I ended up sending her over fifty personalized motivational meditations. It ended up becoming part of my daily routine too. After I was done my meditation, I would record one for her.
Now, back to my story. Meditating was not new to me as I had been subconsciously doing it before each of my yoga classes. At first, I tried some guided meditations but, most of the time, I chose to listen to the Solfeggio Frequencies and several different Mantra Chants during my time on my mat and I loved every minute of it.
At a yoga class, I would always lay on my back on my mat and meditate before each class, but when I started this experiment, I wanted to meditate sitting cross legged like the OG yogis. At first the sheer task of sitting cross legged for twenty-five minutes was excruciating and it was an exercise in mind control just to be able to sit there. At first, I utilized the support of a meditation cushion, but I still found myself uncomfortable. For the first few weeks both of my feet and legs would be one hundred percent asleep and numb by the time my session was over. I chuckled to myself as I remembered my yoga studies and reading how yoga originated with meditation. The postures of yoga, Hatha Yoga, was introduced later as a way to help bend and twist the toxins out of people’s bodies so that they could sit comfortably in meditation for long periods of time. I finally understood that once I attempted to sit cross legged in meditation for twenty-five minutes every day.
Each morning I would get up at 6am, practice 30min of Hatha Yoga, the postures of yoga, followed by at least twenty-five minutes of meditation. I would set a timer for myself and some days it felt like I was only on my mat for one minute and my timer would go off and other days it felt like I was on my mat for three excruciating hours. The more I gained control over my mind the more I was able to slip into a meditative state easily; however, I still had those days when the resistance was very present and fighting me every step of the way.
What I started to instantly realize was incredible. My overall patience immediately increased. I no longer instantly flew off the handle when something went wrong, and I was able to address a stressful situation with my children a lot more calmly and collectively. I was able to block out the outside noise instead of getting sucked into it. For the first time in my life, I was able to step back from a situation, assess myself and then respond as opposed to instantly reacting. I was able to manage my stress. Some days it felt like I was floating through my days, at peace and not bothered by anything around me. I remember trying to describe this feeling to my husband, and I said it almost feels like I am “out of it” just skipping in a field of daisies somewhere. So, I thought to myself, this must be the space everyone talks about. That space in your mind where you can go and just be. The space that you can call on to calm you down and to ensure you respond to a situation as opposed to react to it. I had found that space and it was incredible.
As the days went by my new routine became part of life and I never even thought twice about not doing it. I didn’t curse my alarm when it went off each morning and I didn’t begrudgingly head downstairs to my yoga room every day. I craved more of the space, more of the contentment. I ended up taking my first day off on April 13, 2021, after eighty-five consecutive days of meditation. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson were visiting and the day they got up to leave was the morning that I broke my routine. They were up early so they could get on the road early and I wanted to be there for them and see them off. It was a very natural and organic stop to my experiment and I don’t regret it. I was back on my mat the next day, but my meditation experiment had officially come to an end.
Today my meditation routine is 5 days a week, much like my yoga and workout routine. I take Saturday and Sundays to wake up without an alarm and just relax. The funny thing is, is that I can do that now. I can actually relax. Before, I really had no idea how to relax and the thought of sitting and doing nothing made me anxious. I always had to be doing something, being productive in some way, but now, I can call on that space in my mind to calm my racing mind and enable me to just sit and relax. To enjoy my cup of coffee and book in the morning and to sit down and have a conversation with my husband. I don’t need to be cleaning the kitchen or doing the dishes while I am having my coffee, I can just sit in peace. This new space has given me so many gifts and freedoms, some of which I had no idea I even needed. I have a better ability to see other people’s perspectives and to put myself in someone else’s shoes. To dissect a situation for what it is and not just immediately get offended or take it personally. My overall confidence has increased and I have more security in myself than I ever have. I no longer get hung up on petty things or put myself down when I don’t live up to my own expectations. I reach for that space and give myself a break. I regain control of my mind before it gets out of control and I carry on. I move forward.
Throughout this journey I was able to clearly see my vision for yOGi and I was able to clearly execute that vision. I was able to be there for my friend and support her through her traumatic event and devastating passing and then I was able to stand up and speak at her funeral in September. I was able to be a better support system for her husband and her kids while still maintaining my own mental faculties. My overall ability to handle life is better. I don’t hold onto things like I used to. My long-time friends tell me that I am different in a good way and that yoga looks good on me. I am different in a good way and I continue to build on those skills on a daily basis.
Has meditation changed my life? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to everyone? YES! It is the easiest thing to do and it is the best gift you can give yourself. You do not need any equipment and you do not need a lot of time. All you need to do is sit in stillness. Gain control of your thoughts, regain control of your mind so that you can regain control of your life. Combining meditation with my Hatha practice and my daily workouts has increased my overall mental and physical health and wellness immensely. As much as we need to exercise our bodies, we desperately need to exercise our minds too. Our minds are such amazing and powerful tools, so let’s use them to live our most incredible lives. I encourage you to invite meditation into your life.