Beginning a Meditation Practice

I tried meditating once about 7 or 8 years ago. All I remember about the experience is sitting in a candlelit room with a bunch of strangers and having the instructor softly tell us to “empty our minds” over and over again. Every time she instructed us to do this, my teeth clenched a little tighter. You see my mind was full of random thoughts that were ping-ponging all over my brain and refusing to go away, no matter how hard I fought against them. It was a very frustrating experience so I proclaimed myself “bad at meditation” and didn’t try again. Until now. I’m not sure what sparked it but I have become fascinated with meditation recently and I now know that emptying our minds is not necessary, or even necessarily recommended, for a fulfilling meditation practice.

Why have I finally started flirting with meditation? For so many reasons but I guess a few of the main ones are these:

  • The feeling that so many of us live in our heads, cut off from the signals that our bodies are valiantly trying to give us.
  • Sleepwalking through so much of my day, not feeling present and not fully experiencing my life.
  • Internet addiction. The opposite of being mindful and present. Next time  you’re out in public, on transit or just walking down the street, really observe how many people are glued to their phones, missing out on the real world around them.
  • I’ve heard it can be anti-aging (anything to keep the botox and fillers at bay!)

And I’ve been practicing on my own in my little living room. I’ve been lighting candles and playing rainforest music in the background to set the stage. Every time I meditate, I find it easier to sink into my body. Memories of old pain come up once in awhile and I sit with it and accept it and listen to what it has to tell me. Sometimes the pain comes up several times before it goes away. I’m patient and loving and stay with it until it transforms into something else (even if this takes days or weeks).

Also, I’ve recently learned how to do a Loving Kindness Meditation and I’ll like to share it with you:

Loving Kindness Meditation

This practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good things to yourself and to others.

  1. You can start by thinking about your own goodness—remembering things you have done out of good-heartedness and celebrating the potential for goodness we all share.
  2. Silently repeat phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves (and others). Traditional phrases are:
    • May I live in safety.
    • May I have peace and joy in my life.
    • May I have good health and freedom from pain.
    • May I live with ease.
  3. Say the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that feels natural to you.
  4. Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself. Notice the distraction and either let it go or realize that it is here for you to stay with and, think about. When you’re ready, come back to repeating the phrases without any judgement toward yourself.
  5. After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love and guidance. They are your circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
  6. To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, to a presence full of love.

And that is it. A simple, loving-kindness meditation. If you try it, please let me know how it goes in the comment section. Namaste xo

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Shhh…Listen to This

Listening to your body isn’t as easy as it sounds. Especially if you’ve spent a lifetime becoming quite skilled at not listening to your body.

And, when I finally do listen, I’m starting to get the message that my body is a maybe a bit pissed off. My teeth are clenched more than seems normal. My shoulders are, how you say, the opposite of relaxed, my digestive system gets upset on a pretty regular basis, my skin is broken out in little red bumps on my cheeks and I have a deep frown line (or two) on my forehead. I think it’s pretty safe to say that now may be a really good time to start listening to what my body is trying to tell me.

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How did this avoidance of my body’s signals begin? Well, I remember growing up feeling that the only comfort from my chaotic family life was food. Lots and lots of food (with a big can of coke and big bag of BBQ chips being my fave snack). And that was the start of my love of emotional eating and my war against my (ever expanding) body. I also remember my mother never being happy with herself and always being on some kind of diet or weight watchers eating plan and looking at herself in the mirror and frowning a lot. Since my out of control eating was already affecting my weight as a young child, I followed closely in her footsteps. I started to ping pong back and forth between emotional eating and compulsive dieting until my relationship with food became one big, long, frustrating struggle that lasted decades.

I’ve been on countless diets, far too many to list. I’ve been anorexic, bulimic, binged eaten until I was 30 pounds overweight. I’ve obsessed about my body’s shape and what and when and how much I was going to eat for years. And I’m getting weary of this. I don’t want to live my entire life classifying every single piece of food that passes my lips as “good” or “bad”. I don’t want to dine on lettuce when what I’m really craving is a slice of hot, delicious, mushroom pizza that I won’t let myself have. I don’t want my body to be my enemy and I don’t want some stranger who wrote a random diet book dictating what I put in it anymore.

What I do want is to actually listen to what my body wants. I want to eat food that I’m craving, even if it is cheesy mushroom pizza or a rich, dark chocolate bar. I don’t want to eat a ton of lettuce every day, only because it’s good for me. It’s not good for me if I’m resentful eating it. And, more than anything, I want to finally learn how to make peace with my body.

This is my motivation for my experiment with intuitive eating. Learning how to trust myself and listen to my internal cues and finally be able to sink into myself. A pretty radical concept in the ever changing world of Paleo, South Beach, low carb, high fat, low fat, “Eat like a French person” world.

So, here we go…

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