After my second (and last) child was born, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: I would give up my 15-year yoga and meditation practice, cold turkey. It would save me so much time! I would be able to get more done and thus, I would be happier.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Those five months I spent NOT getting my mind and body on the same page were some of the toughest of my life. I started needed more and more wine to “take the edge off.” I turned to food to help me “feel better.” The wine interrupted my already pitiful sleep; the food settled in on my midsection. I grew crankier and started picking fights with my husband.
What finally helped me get out of this hole is the meditation technique I’m about to share with you. It is idiot-proof.
I started counting my exhales. I did it while I nursed the baby to sleep. Heck, I was already sitting in a quiet dark room for 10-15 minutes every night. I only had to make the decision to do something that would be good for me while I was there.
And something magic happened. I started to relax. I stopped dreading bedtime. I emerged out of his room ready to actually talk with my husband, instead of fussing at him. I found I didn’t need or even want that second (or third) glass of wine. I got happier.
Here then is how you can do it too. While it is lovely to do it in a quiet, dark room, there is no law that says you must. You can do it on the train during your commute, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, in your car before you go into the office for the day. It doesn’t matter where or when. It only matters that you do it.
- Sit up tall; collar bones relaxing away from each other, chest broad, back of the neck long.
- Close your eyes. (Unless you fear you’ll fall asleep, in which case, keep them open, with a soft gaze focused on the floor about three feet in front of you.)
- Spend a few breaths just listening to the sound of your inhales and exhales.
- Then, start counting your exhales.
- When you get to 10, start again at 1.
- Repeat until your allotted time – whether real or self-imposed – is complete.
- Start with a short amount of time (say, 1 or 2 minutes), then work your way up from there. But if you ever think you don’t have enough time to do it at all, you do. A one-minute practice is better than no practice at all.
One word of caution: I can pretty much guarantee that at some point, you will find that you’re on 17, or that you’ve started thinking about what to have for diner. You have not failed meditating! You have proven that you are human. Resist the urge to beat yourself up or to give up. One of the most important lessons that meditation has to teach us is how to notice when you’ve gotten off track, and then how to start again. It’s a skill that will serve you in every area of your life.
Not bad for a few minutes a day, right?
Do you have a meditation or relaxation story you’d like to share? Post it here in the comments section or talk to me on Twitter.