Are you a good or a bad meditator?

By Kristin Allaben

I’ll be the first to admit it. When I was initially told to be mindful, to take time to meditate, it made my eyes glaze.

“I’m too much of a busy-body to meditate.”

“I can’t quiet my mind enough to do that the right way.”

“What do you even meditate about?”

 “I don’t know how to do it the right way.”

Just a few excuses I’d use over and over until they became my truth, my limiting belief – I started to believe I wasn’t able to meditate because I just couldn’t do it.

But then I had an enlightened moment. Mindful meditation is not just about quieting the mind and sitting in complete silence. It’s about tuning in to each feeling, emotion, sensation and thought, recognizing them and, when appropriate, asking “how curious I should be feeling/thinking/responding this way.” You start to pay attention, on purpose, to you and your world, with no judgement. Just acknowledgment.

It is in these moments of mindful meditation that you begin to realize how you react vs. respond to various events in your life. Just noticing gives you the opportunity to improve your next moment. For example, mindful meditation could help you become more intentional and thoughtful vs. emotional and judgmental with anything that happens on a daily basis.

The way I started mindful meditation and focused attention was to write down one thing at the end of every day that made me feel happy. Sometimes, it was something funny one of my kids did or a big milestone they reached. Sometimes, it was acknowledging that I had the chance to go for a long, uninterrupted run. Sometimes, it was stopping and noticing that my husband and I watched an entire movie after the kids were in bed and we both made it through without dozing off (little victories!).

Doing this helped me reflect on the day and acknowledge each event without judgement. I choose to write down the happy moments because it lets me go to bed feeling happy, ready to wake up with a positive outlook for the next day.

This is my form of mindful meditation. I’m tuning in, reflecting on my day, and writing it down. It’s helping me realize how often I react vs. respond, which in turn is hhelping me tune in to reactions so I can be more intentional in the next moment.

There’s no right or wrong way to meditate; you have to find what works for you. Whether it’s meditation (in the traditional definition), focused attention or something else, do what delivers the best experience for you.

So the next time you come up with an excuse for why you can’t meditate, ask yourself, if meditation isn’t for me, then what is?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. If you find meditation to be a challenge, ask yourself why that is. Is it a limiting belief? Or rooted in truth?
  2. What is one thing you can start to do today to begin to incorporate mindful meditation or focused attention into your daily routine?
  3. How can you leverage mindful meditation or focused attention to help you become more intentional in each moment?

 

Consider reading Experience Isn’t Your Enemy

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Staying Calm and Upbeat (Despite Life’s Frustrations)

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

You need to slam on the breaks when a driver cuts you off on the highway.

You are waiting in line to check out and another customer cuts ahead of you to ask the store clerk a question.

You arrive on time for your meeting but many of your team arrive late.

What do you do in each of these situations? If you are like most of us, you become frustrated, irritated and aggravated, and that emotion stays with you, affecting your entire day.

When your day is negatively impacted by an event you can’t control, remind yourself that you are in control of your own emotions.

The way to handle life’s challenges – whether big or small – is to develop your personal mindfulness process to increase your inner strength, calm, happiness and resilience. As you develop and use these mindfulness habits, you’ll find you start responding instead of reacting. You’ll become unaffected by impatient drivers, inconsiderate shoppers, late employees or other events that used to frustrate you.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Take a breath. Anytime the world seems to be climbing on the frustration meter, take a deep breath. Breathe in to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, release your breath to a count of four. Do this a couple of times to regain composure or to keep perspective.
  • Go for humor. Read a humorous post or cartoon, or watch a funny video to change your energy. Humor can be an effective tool to distract you from frustrations.
  • Yoga, meditation and quiet time. September is National Yoga Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to explore yoga or other meditation techniques. These were previously considered new age, yet today, most successful people have included yoga and meditation in their daily process. By practicing it regularly, you will become inherently better at finding your inner strength, keeping things in perspective and handling life’s challenges with grace and positivity. Consider seeking out a yoga studio or buying a mindfulness audio program.

Notice all of these mindfulness techniques require commitment and intention on your part – you own your response and what you need to do to become more resilient.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. The next time you get frustrated, take a deep breath. How do you feel?
  2. What is one thing you can do today to be more mindful of a response vs. a reaction?
  3. What could your daily mindfulness process include to help you develop your inner resilience to life’s challenges, whether big or small?

The more you build your internal calm, the less the world will frustrate you and the happier, saner and more successful you will be.

 

Read more about increasing mindfulness in Tune Out to Tune In

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