How to Meditate

I realized today that I talk a lot about my meditation practice on this blog without really going into what that looks like for me. Therefore today I wanted to share that with all of you so that maybe, if you’d like, you could join me in the practice.

First and foremost I would like to share that I do my best to meditate daily. This does not always happen. On weekends, when I travel, or on busy days where I suddenly look up and it’s already 5:30 and dinner isn’t made I do not always meditate. I want to make sure that I am clear about this and as honest and transparent as possible because there were many years I didn’t meditate because the commitment seemed too daunting. I felt that the practitioners claiming to meditate daily had teams of staff to do their bidding and that was how they were still productive despite taking a huge chunk of their days to be still. Let me be clear, I do not have a staff. I do not have a team of people ready to do my bidding while I lie in repose for hours on end. I’m a typical parent, I get interrupted, I have days I don’t practice at the same time and days that I just can’t get into it and that’s ok. The purpose of meditation is to practice. The showing up is the most important part. 

The benefits of meditation are many including a lower heart rate, stress management, and increasing imagination and creativity. I meditate because it helps me to stay calm and keeps me in the present. Meditation is one of the tools I use to show up in the world as the version of myself I most admire and like. When I meditate I feel calm, peaceful, and productive. I most often write this blog promptly after meditating because it is the time when I feel most attune and aligned externally and internally. 

That said, the purpose of this post is to tell you how I do it. First, full disclosure, I have yet to graduate to complete silence and serenity. I do not quietly sit in a private yoga studio. Instead, I make my bed – it usually doesn’t get made until I come to lay down to meditate. I take a quick potty break just so I’m not distracted while in the middle of my meditation. Then I take my eye mask to the microwave. I kiss my kids who are distracted and watching television – otherwise they pop in approximately every 10 seconds to ask for something unnecessary. I bring the dog with me so he is not tempted to panic bark at the Prime truck delivery across the street. I grab the mask from the microwave and head up to my room where I close the door, pull a blanket over myself and plug in earbuds to listen to a guided meditation. 

I find guided mediations to be a personal pursuit of preference. I enjoy Calm’s introductory 20 minute mediation. I like soft music, I don’t prefer nature sounds in the background. I find women’s voices more soothing and I really enjoy the Mindful Movement on YouTube. I typically only listen to the same, 5 or less, meditations regularly. But that can shift with my mood. I will seek out different meditations if I’m feeling the need to listen more to my inner voice, find more peace in the chaos, or just to be more present in my daily life. You can use any framework to make your choice but pay attention to your preferences and honor them so you don’t come away from your meditation more annoyed or frustrated than you were when you started. The goal is to be more peaceful and satisfied, not to add to the grievances of the day.

I listen to the guided meditation for 20 minutes with the eye mask on. Some days I can push past 20 and go longer but most days I meditate for 20 minutes, it just seems to work the best for me and my schedule. Occasionally, I put lotion on my feet or essential oils where I can smell them to pamper myself and feel more tended to while I’m at rest. It takes a little more prep-work but it feels super delicious to stretch post-meditation and smell good things and feel balanced, whole, and generously cared for. It takes the practice up a notch and turns it into a delightful gift you’re giving yourself.

When the mediation is done I stretch and put away my mask. I fold the blanket I use to cover myself and sit down to write. I feel like I do my best work when I write, slightly bleary eyed and fully present. That is when I feel I produce my most authentic work. When I first got started – read the first year to year and a half – I would have a little chocolate almond treat when I wrote. A little pavlovian trick to help encourage myself to keep going. It seems to have worked, I have been doing this meditation thing for nearly two years and I really feel like I am a better person, and certainly a more productive artist, for it.

What strategies do you use to meditate? Are there tools that help you to get into the zone? Or what additional self-care treats do you give yourself when you meditate? Have you been able to sit in total silence yet? What has that experience felt like for you?