Am I Doing This Right?

What do you think of meditation?  For years I tried to develop a meditation practice and during that time I kept thinking, I must not be doing this right!  I tried a lot of different approaches – solo and classes, guided and unguided, silent and chanting, sitting and laying down – you get the idea.  When I settled in to meditate, my thoughts would race from I have to remember to send that email to did I put my laundry in the dryer to I’m thirsty to how many minutes has it been to why is my heart beating so fast to I should probably breath deeper to when will this meditation be over to my back hurts to why is this so hard to what should I make for dinner to why can’t I focus on this to I can’t be doing this right.  Looking back, I smile at the running commentary in my mind because despite my best intentions, I definitely hadn’t found a meditation practice that worked for me and at the time it felt like meditation was making me feel worse.
Come to find out, meditation wasn’t making me feel worse.  I felt like that much of the time, I just wasn’t aware of it until I stopped and tried to meditate.  I persisted and kept trying different techniques until I found a guided meditation that worked for me and I’ve had a consistent practice for over a year and a half - mediation does work for me!  Here are the top 3 things that have changed for me based on my meditation practice:

  1. I’m more aware of my thoughts and how they impact my reality.
  2. I’m able to stop and think about how I want to act and respond.
  3. I notice when I’m holding my breath or tensing my body.

 I catch myself now when I’m spiraling into negative thoughts and I’m often able to reframe those thoughts before they do real damage.  I am more mindful and rarely react blindly, even in the heat of the moment, I can consciously step back for a breath.  I tune in more to how I feel and am able to calm down and relax.
There are many great meditation resources available.  Here are a few of my current favorites:

  • Headspace: A terrific app with free features that offers guided meditations.I am on day 8 of Take 10 and am loving it.
  • Oprah and Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience: A free program with 21-days of guided meditations.“Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life” just began today and Day 1 is available for the next five days.
  • Om Chanting: I love the vibration of chants, so I set the alarm on my phone for as much time as I have and listen to chant while breathing deeply, sometimes I’ll also chant myself.Even a few minutes makes a difference.  

I’d love to hear from you about your meditation practice.  If you have a practice, what works for you and what are the benefits?  If you don’t meditate, what are the challenges to developing a practice?