Why I Started Meditating (And Why You Should Too)
After the hustle and bustle of planning our wedding, and after we returned home from the honeymoon, I was feeling great about my relationship but a bit stagnant and uncertain about my own life. I was (and still am) just working as a server in a restaurant part-time and trying to figure out what to actually do with my life. In the next 1-2 years we’d like to be starting a family and the plan is for me to be a stay-at-home mom (something I have ALWAYS wanted to do!) and I’m really excited for that, but also unsure if I should be trying to do something meaningful in the “career world” before I start the “mom world”. I don’t want to delay having kids more than necessary but I also don’t want to have regrets about work. On top of that we have 3 important trips planned between September and January, so we agreed it wouldn’t really make any sense for me to start job searching until November/December, because no new employer is going to say, “Yeah for sure you can take 3.5 weeks off within your first 5 months of working here!” And because I’m just making part-time server money, we can’t afford to move to our own apartment in a more convenient neighbourhood yet, so we’re stuck renting part of a house until we can make more money. And of course during this time about a dozen of my friends on Facebook/Instagram were posting pictures of their new homes or renovations on their homes or pregnancy announcements and I was happy for them but at the same time those things all made me feel like more of a failure. All of this tension surrounding career/money/housing was making me feel pretty miserable and useless and I wanted to get more in touch with my inner self to sort through these feelings and develop a more positive outlook.
By this point I’d been wanting to start meditating for about 4 months and after reading Gretchen Rubin’s AMAZINGLY helpful book, “Better Than Before”, I realized what was standing in my way. Gretchen talks about 21 different strategies we consciously and subconsciously use when making or breaking habits – one of which is the Strategy of Convenience. Essentially, the easier something is to do, the more likely we are to actually do it. (And the reverse is also true – the less convenient something is, the less likely you are to do it. She identifies that one as the Strategy of Inconvenience.) So for example if you wanted to stop eating cookies after dinner but your family insists on having cookies in the house, you could keep them up on a high shelf that requires you to get out a step-stool in order to reach the cookies. Just by introducing that one small hassle, you’ll just naturally be less tempted to get yourself a cookie. But if you keep those cookies on the counter in a glass jar, where they’re highly visible and easily accessible, you’ve made it ~convenient~ for yourself to grab a cookie anytime you walk past the jar.
I don’t really have an issue with overeating cookies, but I did really want to start meditating, so I decided to implement Gretchen’s habit suggestions to get me started on my goal! Meditation has tons of health benefits, most of which relate to the fact that it teaches you to be in tune with your body and your thoughts, to live mindfully in the moment, and to find calm in the face of stress. The slow, deep breathing associated with meditation helps your body produce more dopamine (a happiness hormone) and reduces your production of cortisol (a stress hormone), leaving you feeling happier and more capable of handling your life and responsibilities! The more often you meditate, the more you’ll naturally resort to meditation techniques even when you’re NOT meditating. You just have to teach your body how great it feels first.
Also since your lungs are one of your body’s 7 detoxification pathways, meditative breathing helps clear out stagnant air/toxins and bring in fresh oxygen/energy to help all your billions of cells carry on with their important cellular processes.
I started out just randomly looking for guided meditations on Youtube, but for me meditation apps have definitely been the most helpful! Meditating is a very personal, relaxing, explorational activity, and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks but I’m already learning things about my inner self and feeling more grounded in daily life!
Have you made space in your life for meditation yet? If not – what’s holding you back? Share your thoughts in the comments!