My husband and I are always game for a challenge, and last month when my car was stolen, we saw it as a fun opportunity to try and get by with one car for a month. We enjoy challenges like this. It definitely has been interesting and challenged us in many ways, most notably logistically. You become an expert at logistics when you have 5 people going in 5 directions and one car between all of you, and you’re trying to get back into work after a year’s mat leave and you’re both kind of spontaneous people. But I digress. That’s another blog post entirely.
The reason I mentioned this though, is because it provides a bit of background for why I have had so much time for meditation lately: I’ve been taking an hour-long train ride to work and am back on the meditation train (pun intended.)
Each time I get on the train, I excitedly open my favourite app, Insight. I first downloaded the Insight meditation app last year and it was the third app I tried after Headspace, which I still love and use for my kids, and Calm, which I didn’t love. Calm just didn’t catch on for me.
I enjoy the fun of hunting for and saving new meditations with different voices, approaches, topics and lengths. Insight is like the facebook of meditation where you can follow people, and do meditations based on how much time you have, topics or even styles. You can follow people, or save individual meditations. I have a stash of meditations saved in my bookmark folder, and I choose them based on what I need.
Lately I’ve needed to ground myself and simply feel peaceful amidst a ton of chaos in external life. In July I returned to work after a year on mat leave, had my car stolen, been diagnosed with a disease and had a major surgery. So, it’s not surprising I’ve felt the need to pause. What marked a major change for me in July, after years of meditating, is my first thought when I considered what I needed was – yes – meditation. This is a shift.
I have moved from I should do meditation (and then remember here and there) to I am craving meditation (and make it a daily practice)
(please note this is not a sponsored post, I genuinely love this app and it’s part of my daily habits, which makes it worthy of a mention, in this mama’s pursuit of an elevated life.)
I’ve been practicing (and exploring) meditation on and off since 2013 when I had my first baby and attended a mama meditation workshop. From there, I was hooked, though I should have known it would be my jam way back in my hot yoga days, when I LIVED for savasana and spent the hour looking forward to that divine rest at the end 😉
As I shift into a daily practice that is now a habit that I crave, there’s a few things I’ve realized. So I bring to you, the things I have learnt from five years of practicing meditation.
-You have to find the style. I am picky about voices. I hate bells and “unexpected sounds” in meditation. I like deeper voices. In the early stages, find what seems to resonate with you and soothe you. We all resonate with different energies and that includes the energy that a voice projects, or the sound waves in a meditation recording.
-There are many styles of meditation: Music or sound-based (like crystal bowls) walking meditation, nature meditation, guided meditation, mantra meditation, breathing meditation, even swimming meditation. As you go down the meditation road, you have no choice but to try them all on for size, find out what you like and don’t like and take note of the ones that seem to get you into a pretty deep state. I discovered 2 years into the process, that I loved guided meditations. These seem to be my jam. I loved savasana back in my hot yoga days but found the silence too long for my untrained brain. I still find long silences hard.
-It does get easier to get into a deep meditative brain state with practice, but you have to use it or lose it. If I have meditated consistently (daily) for a good week, I’ll get into a deeper state faster. If I haven’t done it in a while, it will actually take 2 or 3 separate meditation sessions to ‘get back’ to that zoned out state.
-Meditation opens up your intuition and creative brain. In times of regular meditative practice I find myself much more creative, full of good ideas and able to think outside of the box. There’s extensive neuroscience that supports this theory. If you want a super interesting googling session, type “meditation “flow state” “creativity” “intuition” in that little google box and prepare to be fascinated (and probably up reading until 1am.)
-It is very (we are talking profoundly) true that meditation enhances your ability to take a gentle approach to all of the events in your life, and it cultivates a kinder, gentler, quieter version of self-talk. Meditation cultivates your ability to pause, take a step back, notice what is happening and be able to practice peace and non-attachment. You find that you begin to treat yourself kindly and gently, as you do the events around you.
Meditation cultivates your outside observer, or spiritual side. The eternal part of your soul that is watching the human experience unfolding before you (that is your life as you know it) with a knowing smile. This is one of the main reasons I am so thankful that I discovered meditation. It has been an amazing tool in tough times. It has been a key in mental resilience and my eternal positivity. It has let me handle some wild rides in this adventure called life. I’ve used it a lot in the last little few years, particularly the most profound moments.
I did one in 2016, before saying goodbye to my father in law who was on life support in the ICU. It helped me say goodbye with peace and love, without attaching myself to the human drama going on around me that was not of my own. I was able to think and act with clarity and honour my emotions in the days following, without attaching to them or judging them.
I also went into meditation the night my mum passed away in hospice in 2013. In that state, I was able to feel the moment her soul departed and sat up, waiting for the nurse to enter to let us know. I’ll always see that as a special gift and one of the profound moments that led me deeper into exploring meditation and the spiritual side of things. If you engage with the meditation journey, and stick with it, you will have a few profound moments. These will be the proof that your mind wants. These will also be the truth that your soul has always known (that your brain may have ignored for a while.)
-Meditation has been the best tool for helping me ‘reset’ when I shift into a different environment or role. Meditating on the train this past week has helped me leave my work behind, re-ground, become peaceful and set a blank slate for the next part of my day: Returning home a present and mindful parent for the kids (and not preparing dinner in a panicky get-it-down rush.) I do some of these exercises with coaching clients, particularly if they walk into the room with their energy and emotions from earlier events in the day. Together we clear the space, the energy and their minds before engaging in coaching.
-Meditation before bed has helped with my nightmares. I’ve always had an extremely creative imagination which makes for some absolutely wild nighttime dreams, many of which have been quite scary. I go through phases of nightmares, especially when I feel my mental health backsliding a bit or my healthy lifestyle habits slipping. Meditation seems to help before bed and prevent the wild and wacky nightmares. I can’t explain why, but once again, I’m sure a bunch of googling and scientific research will reveal that!
If you’ve been fascinated by it, honestly give it a go. You can’ t just lie on the floor and meditate with kids running around, so some tips from this mama to other mamas:
Sneak it in when you are putting your kids down, try the headspace app or a children’s meditation but go along with it as well as you lie by your kids. you’re doing a great thing for them too!
Get over worrying about other people. If you do it at work, you’ll be somewhere with your eyes closed, and someone will look at you while you have your eyes closed. Don’t worry about it. It’s increasingly commonplace. Remember that 15 minute break you never take? Yes… you know where I am going with that.
Take 10 minutes in on your commute before you “enter” the next stage of your day. Or, even the next role in your day, ie: from employee, to mom. From mom, to wife. From awake, to asleep. It’s a really nice way to transition. Meditation doesn’t just “clean the slate” of your mind and thinking patterns, it truly does reset your body, your posture and the energy you bring to your next interaction.
The next time you can’t sleep or have a toss and turn night, take 10 minutes and do one, I strongly recommend “bone deep sleep” (link below.)
To get you started, here are a few of my favourite guided meditations on the Insight app, as well as a link to the Mindful Kids youtube channel which has the most AMAZING relaxing music for the kids. We have two favourite videos from this channel which I’ve screen shotted for you (click on the picture and it will take you there.)
Insight App – My Current Favourites:
Youtube: My Current Music Favourites / Kids Favourites
This one in the evening or quiet time, the imagery is lovely to play on our tv in the background.
This one for bed time (it relaxes all of us, not just the kids!)