"Do you meditate?"
I feel like I get asked that all the time and here is the thing, I do but you won't catch me sitting on a zafu and zabuton with my eyes closed in a dark room with a candle glowing while chanting. It's just not my thing. There is nothing wrong with it but it just doesn't work for me...right now.
I have meditated in what I like to refer to as the traditional way but for me, right now, it's not working. I end up frustrated and annoyed and feel like I have wasted my time. Right now, life is crazy! I have a photoshoot coming up so I'm hitting the gym and cardio a lot these days and I am running two personal businesses plus, house, kids, husband and all that goes with it (more on balancing all that later). I know, I know, apparently this means I should do it for longer and practice more but here is the thing. Right now it's just not working for me, and that's ok.
Rather than berate myself about it and keep hitting my head against the wall trying to "get it right" I'm finding an alternative. Something that gives me that same powerful calm and centered feeling, something else that grounds me and builds me up.
Ok but how do I find that thing?
I used to love to dance, colour, and listen to my music really loud. Especially while driving with the windows down. These days that doesn't seem to do it. Dancing was always with my friends and we are all so busy these days. Doing it on my own doesn't give me the release I am looking for (though a good dance party with the kids is always lots of fun). Colouring has my mind working on lists and I hate lists! The traffic in LA means that taking to the open roads is a little more difficult and my schedule doesn't allow me to go too far out of town.
Sometimes things you love to do or things you used to love to do can bring that feeling of calm. If that is not working for you then there is another way.
So now what?
When I was In high school my father and I used to have these huge arguments. We would yell and I would feel unheard and uncared for (note that how I felt and what was actually going on where two very different things). Inevitably I would storm off and go for a run (I know, great way to resolve things but to be fair I was like 15). I would get outside, pull up the hood on my sweatshirt and just run. I wasn't thinking about anything or replaying the argument, I wasn't devising ways to get back at him, I was just running. Thinking back, this was the only time I ran back then. To get out of my head and blow it off.
Years later I found that same zen swimming laps. It was time for just me and I found that though I had an underwater mp3 player (yeah I know, I've just aged myself) I got more out of it without the music. I always felt lighter and calmer when I got out of the water.
How you blow off steam and how you calm yourself and cool off can help you find your own style of meditation.
These days my meditation looks more like a hike in a natural area.
Huffing and puffing, or not, depending on my mood and running through ideas and lists in my head and then releasing them (sometimes after I have written them down).
Right now, my happy place is anywhere up. I'm climbing and hiking up hill and the sense of calm that washes over me when I get there (wherever there is) is incredible.
Right now, this is working for me. I get to do what my heart wants and what my soul needs and my brain is happy as it feels productive. This is not to say that this is it, this is how I meditate.
It's just how I meditate right now.
This will most certainly change. It has changed many times in fact and it's important to know that it will most likely change again.
It's all a matter of what is working for you, right now, in this moment. If your current calming routine is not working for you then change it up. Try to remember what you love doing and see if that can work for you right now.
Not so much? Ok, what is your go to when you are really pissed off? Do you do dishes? Go for a run? Blast music and jam out?
Maybe you don't need to wait until you get to that point to do it. It might work for you on a regular day too.
Think about how much better you feel after you do that thing.
Ok, now think of how much better you could feel if you were not in a funk in the first place.
Erin Brown from Iamerinbrown.com has a wonderful post about how she gets out of a funk (click here to read it). Everything she does in there can be considered meditation if you open your mind to it. What if she were to do one of these things daily and not save them for a funky day?
The key is to find what is working at any given time. Be it with meditation, your food, your sleep habits, your exercise routine (or lack thereof). Then ask, "how is that working for me?". If it's not working, ditch it, find something that does. Need help finding what works for you? Sign up to my newsletter for weekly lessons on listening to your body, mind and soul.
I'd love to hear about what makes you feel calm and centred.