Considering how happy, content and grateful I am today, the way I used to greet the morning seems as if it happened in another lifetime. I would wake up and immediately think, "It can't be morning yet. Not another day like yesterday." Followed by, "I can't possibly get everything done today." Life for me was more of a struggle than a celebration. To make it worse, I had a very close friend who kept reminding me that if only I would meditate, my life would change.
Meditate? Didn't that mean to be still and close your eyes and clear your mind? Impossible for me. I had too much going on, too much to do and too many thoughts flitting across my "monkey mind." Meditation seemed like a self-indulgent luxury for someone who had nothing better to do than sit and chant "om." Besides, I tried to meditate once and it didn't work. So I resisted, and my life continued on the same path, day after day after frustrating day.
As my health began to suffer, I came to a startling realization. If I didn't do something positive, things were not going to change. So I decided to give meditation a try. The first day I turned on my CD player (this was the pre iPad days), and listened to a calming voice that said, "Get comfortable and clear your mind." That's exactly what I couldn't do, however, I remained still -- for five whole minutes!
I'd like to say that I meditated every day after that. The fact was, I didn't. I'd try it one day, forget about for the next three days, then go back again. But I have to say, eventually it was something I looked forward to doing. I started meditating a few days in a row, then a week at a time, and soon it became a habit. I could even be still for an entire 15 minutes! Now meditating is as much a part of my daily schedule as brushing my teeth. I wasn't sure what benefits I was supposed to expect. I'd read the studies from the Mayo Clinic and other experts. I didn't know if my blood pressure was better or my heart healthier or if my anxiety level hit a new low. What I did know was that my monkey mind seemed quieter as I awoke, that I felt a bit calmer, a bit more optimistic and grateful that I had something to look forward to each day.
We live in such an overstimulating environment today. When we're not posting on Facebook or Pinterest or checking the Twitter, we're texting on iPhones, listening to iTunes, or buying something with e-commerce. When I counsel with overworked, anxiety-ridden clients, I always suggest meditation and I'm not surprised I get the same answers I used way back when. "I don't have time. I can't quiet my mind. I tried it once and it didn't work."
Meditation is not a luxury like a reflexology foot massage. It's a way to disconnect from everyday stresses, if only for a few minutes a day. You deserve to feel good, to have the energy you want to enjoy life, to be healthy and happy. Start living the life you were meant to live. Learn to meditate.
Even the grand lady of television, Barbara Walters announced on The View, that over the summer she learned to meditate. It's never, ever too late.
There are adult education classes and meditation centers in every town, if you prefer to be with a group. You can always enroll in a meditation series over the Internet -- usually at no charge. I saw one starting soon called "Secrets of Meditation," through a group called Wild Divine. Choose whichever form of meditation suits you best: silent, musical, guided, visual, walking, etc. You will never regret that wondrous gift you have given yourself.
For more by Dr. Marcia Hootman, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.