HOW MEDITATING CHANGED MY LIFE
We all have heard of the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. When first starting out, it can be tough to see the benefits of this practice. I’m here to tell you that if you stick with it, those benefits will show up.
I took my first crack at meditating around five years ago. I would start practice a few times per week and then slowly dwindle down to nothing. Sound familiar? I think we’ve all been there. The benefits don’t show up right away, and it can seem pointless as your interest in it disappears, even though the professionals swear by it.
Thankfully for me, just over two years ago, I met a fantastic therapist while I was suffering from prenatal depression. I had postpartum depression after my previous three children were born, but had never had it during pregnancy. I was terrified that the slump I was in would get worse after the baby arrived and started the healing journey of my life. This therapist immediately bombarded me with studies on meditating. She promised me that if I stuck to it every day for three weeks, I would set a new pattern in my brain and meditation would become part of my routine. What did I have to lose? I was a mess and needed an intervention.
I followed the plan and meditated every day for three weeks, and by the end, I did feel a little lighter. Meditation, combined with therapy, was working miracles for my mental health! I decided to stick with it. After the first three weeks, I would skip a day here and there, but for the most part, I used meditation as one of my tools to reduce anxiety, anger, and fear.
Once the baby arrived, I was waiting for the depression to deepen again, but it never did. I continued with therapy and other community supports, and I’m so happy to say that baby number four did not come with postpartum depression.
My husband and I both meditate, often together, which is really nice. Recently we decided to introduce it to Charlize (8) and Jonathan (7) to give them a head start on mindfulness practice. We set a specific time; 8:30 pm, after Kayden has gone to bed. The four of us get comfortable in the family room and do 10 – 15 minutes of guided meditation. There are many apps to download; we have used Calm and Headspace. I also like listening to meditations on YouTube, which lets you easily search the length and type you would like.
The kids weren’t thrilled about this new practice. They would sit quietly, but you could sense that they were struggling. I promised them that over time they would feel the benefits. A few weeks ago, we were travelling from California to Arizona. It was an 8-hour drive that we broke up over two days. As much fun as our road trips are, they also come with a lot of stress. Being away for almost five months comes with a lot of luggage for a family of five. Packing it all up, loading it all in the van, and then hustling the kids along wears us down. We are already fatigued from the amount of training we do on the bikes and find that any added stress becomes less tolerable. Kayden whined the entire way on both days due to being strapped in for long periods. By the time we arrived in Tucson, everyone was worn down. Because of the travel, we missed two nights of meditation. The first night we arrived really late at the hotel, and the second we just said f@ck it!
On our second day here, Jon and I were in bad moods. Both of us felt irritable, anger was bubbling below the surface, and the kids were bickering and acting up a bit. As I was cooking dinner that second night, feeling like I was going to meltdown, I questioned what was going on with me? What has changed to make me feel this way? Yes, the travel is always hard, but why was I holding onto it? Then it hit me: we hadn’t meditated!
I quickly announced to everyone that we were irritated and not our happy selves because we had skipped our meditating. Jon agreed with me instantly. The kids were surprised. “That’s how meditation helps us?” they asked. “Yes, that is exactly how meditation works!” I responded. “It helps you manage your emotions and diffuses negative energy.” They were so happy to finally understand it, and I was pleased to see them make the connection. Emotional intelligence is a huge part of our homeschooling. I’m thrilled to be seeing the benefits of meditation in my children at such a young age.
I really want everyone to experience the benefits of meditating. Currently, the athletes in my youth development program are doing a monthly challenge, aiming to meditate every day during February.
Leave me a note in the comments letting us know if you have a
meditation practice or if you’re interested in starting one!