I Started Meditating And It Doesn't Suck
For some reason, I managed to be a yoga teacher for years of my life without ever really considering meditation.
Ok no, that’s a lie. I considered it, but was rather misguided. I used to think meditation or mindfulness was about the act of just not thinking. I thought that to be peaceful (whatever that means) I needed to absolutely turn off my brain. To stop processing thoughts. I would literally lay in bed screaming at myself JUST STOP THINKING AND YOU WILL FEEL FUCKING PEACEFUL. Obviously, I did not find peace. If anything, I found a lot of rage in trying to be so fucking calm.
About a year ago or so I downloaded some random meditation app and promised that this would be the time it really stuck. I lit incense. I cozied up on my yoga mat. I sat up tall and closed my eyes. A smooth speaking British man started whispering in my ear. I felt my breath rise and fall in my belly. I prepared myself for total woke status, or whatever came from being a human-who-meditates.
I fell asleep.
I fell asleep the next time, too, even though I chose to meditate in an absurdly uncomfortable seat. And then I fell asleep the next time. You guys, meditation did not come easily to me.
I decided after a few half-hearted attempts that perhaps my attempts at being all mindful and shit were in vain. Maybe I just wasn’t meant to meditate! Maybe I just didn’t get that gene or something! Then things started to get really dark. What if meditation wasn’t even real? What if it was something that some dude made up in India a long time ago and then everybody just went along with it but nobody actually knew what it was? What if this was all part of some elaborate scheme? Was this the Illuminati tricking us all to follow Kanye? What if nobody actually meditated?
Things were, obviously, bleak. I gave up.
I went about a full year without really considering meditation. I discovered other ways to bring a practice of mindfulness into my life, like journaling. I decided in earnest that perhaps meditation, much like any sport that requires hand-eye coordination, was just not something that I was born to do. I told myself that I could still be a thoughtful person and dedicated yogi without meditation in my life. It was fine! I was fine! We were all fine!
And then ZenMixer reached out to me.
ZenMixer is a meditation app that serves all sorts of different needs, levels of experience, and personality types. Let me just say- this app is delightful. I was hesitant to partner with ZenMixer because HI I AM A MEDITATION DROP-OUT, but they encouraged me to play around with their different offerings and find something that I like. My hopes were embarrassingly low. Nevertheless, I persisted.
For my first meditation, I plugged in my headphones for a long session designed to encourage deep sleep. I was staying in a cabin on a rowing trip surrounded by dozens of sweaty bodies, so sleep wasn't going to be particularly easy. I plugged in my little buds and, to my shock, fell asleep. As my husband likes to say I slept hard. Once the meditations on ZenMixer finish the app continues playing gentle white noise, which I found to be especially soothing while trying to sleep in a strange environment. I was slowly becoming a convert.
Over the next few weeks I pulled out ZenMixer whenever I had a free moment. I found myself testing out meditations on body awareness, anxiety relief, and motivation. I played around with quick breathing exercises and listened to relaxing sounds. The app features meditations as short as one minute and as long as over an hour. I have yet to delve into anything above fifteen minutes, but it's something that I actually want to do. Who am I? Who have I become?
This is just my opinion based on other meditation apps that I've toyed around with, but I find that ZenMixer has a wider selection of mindfulness options to choose from and is 100% easier to navigate. No meditation is a prerequisite for another, so I can bounce around the app freely without having to complete a certain level or series before being allowed to move on. A lot of meditation apps are structured that way, and I find that it makes it feel more like work in my mind than something that is intended to be relaxing.
I also really appreciate the diversity of voices. I love listening to a soothing British man woo me into a clear headspace, but from time to time I like to change it up, you know? Like, sometimes I want a lady meditation practitioner. Sometimes I want some gruff dude to talk to me. Sometimes I want a hippy mama to whisper in my ears and make me question if she knows how to use her big girl voice. I like variety! I like to change it up!
I always felt a bit like a poser being a yoga teacher that didn't like to meditate. It felt, in a sense, like I wasn't walking the walk. You know? As I incorporated ZenMixer meditations into my routine (my favorite is to meditate as I lay down for bed each night) I've realized that meditation is more about finding moments in your day to feel centered- not necessarily to stop thinking. For me my time meditating is the time where I just allow myself to be the center of the day. I tune out my other worries, allow myself to feel taken care of, and just breathe. Does my mind wander? Absolutely. Have I learned that meditating on an empty stomach is an absolute disaster because all I will think about is carbs? Hell yes. But have I genuinely noticed some real change in how I react to the world around me? You fucking bet.
I would be lying if I told you that I meditated everyday. I usually forget on Friday and Saturday nights (duh), and typically I skip out at least one weeknight due to being either too exhausted, too busy, or both. Usually both. I also haven't put myself on a strict meditation schedule (yet, anyway!) because I don't want it to feel like a task. Like a chore. Like something that I have to do. I want my meditation sessions to feel like a treat that I give myself when my schedule allows for it. And damn, guys, it's becoming a treat that I really look forward to.
Have you tried meditating? Do you have any tips that have helped you stick to your practice and not fall asleep? I would love to hear all about your experience!
Sending eternal peace and cozy naps,
This post was created in partnership with ZenMixer. That being said, all of the opinions in here are 100% my own. Thank you for your support, friends!