Before moving to Bali, I felt like my mind was always running at 100 miles per hour. I had massive anxiety and I constantly tried to avoid focusing on it by keeping myself busy. I felt that if I was always moving and distracting myself, then I wouldn’t have to look inward.
When I got home from a busy day of work, appointments, and errands, I would instantly turn on the TV to continue the cycle of distraction. I can't remember a time when I allowed myself to be in complete silence (and the only thing I hated more than silence was being alone). Even on solo car rides, I’d call a friend (or usually my mom). I can’t remember a time when I allowed myself to be in silence. I intentionally filled up every moment of my life, believing that the more distracted I was, the more I could avoid my anxiety.
(How I would feel most mornings)
Looking back, I actually remember hating yoga because it forced me to be still and think. It made me so uncomfortable to slow down and just BE in my body. So I opted for workouts like spin, where music was blasting and all I had to think about was moving as fast as possible.
There were a lot of factors that led to my wanting to move to Bali. Ultimately, though, what drove my decision was that I no longer wanted to live this way, and that I knew deep down I didn’t have to.
As soon as I moved to Bali, I felt myself finally calm down. The pace of life was 5,000 times slower than anything I had ever experienced. For the first time in my life, I was forced to breathe, slow down and just be. It was a sweet relief for my anxiety ridden brain. Even though we had just uprooted our lives, moved to a foreign country, and didn’t quite know how we were going to financially survive, I still felt my anxiety drifting away.
But then, during our second week on the island, what I now call “the series of unfortunate events” occurred (you can read about that HERE). And just like that, I felt lost, confused, and stressed.
Some friends in Bali encouraged me to try mediation. If I’m being completely honest, I used to think meditation was silly and far too "out there" for me. I didn’t think I was a person that needed to meditate (which is hilarious looking back). At the time, however, I found myself in a place where I desperately needed clarity. So I let my guard down and decided to dig into my “spiritual side”.
I went home one day and googled “How to meditate”. I found a YouTube video and lay down on my bed as the voice walked me through a ten minute “body scan” meditation. After it was done, I immediately felt great but also a bit shocked. Could it be that easy? It wasn’t nearly as weird or scary as I had made it up to be in my mind.
It was a step in the right direction but I wanted to know more. I decided to seek some advice from my friend Conni who practices meditation every morning. Over coffee, I asked her a laundry list of questions. Was I supposed to lay down or sit up? Did I need a fancy cushion? Did I need to sit crossed legged with my hands in a certain position? Do you just sit in silence for a while, or are you supposed to listen to a guide? What’s up with the chanting? Do I need to do that? And on and on..
After a few minutes, Conni de-mystified the whole thing for me. She literally told me to sit in a chair (or really anywhere I felt comfortable) with my hands on my legs. She recommended a few apps to get me started and sent me on my way.
I ended up downloading “Headspace”, a beginner’s app to guided meditation, with different packs and themes. I started with the Fundamentals pack and then moved on to other packs like anxiety, productivity, patience (really need that one), change, balance, etc. They give you the option to choose the amount of time you want to mediate so I started with 10 minutes a day. I committed to doing it each morning for a month (seriously, who doesn’t have 10 minutes a day to dedicate to self-care?!)
(This is the App. You can download it from the app store on your phone)
(This is an example of some of the packs you can choose from)
When I started, I wasn’t really sure if it was working, but I stuck with it. I meditated first thing in the morning so as not to get distracted by life right upon waking up (always meditate before you even check your phone!) I used to think that I was “too busy” to make time to meditate. The funny thing is though, by meditating before I work, I can usually cut my work load in half because of how focused I am. Those 10 minutes of meditation can turn four hours of work into two.
After reading about how many powerful CEO’s and world leaders meditate every day, I was even more convinced to stick with this new routine. I used to think meditation was just for hippies and people with extra time on their hands but I was completely mistaken. Almost every successful entrepreneur and business person I read about had a daily meditation practice and explained how it was critical to their success.
(Excerpt from a Huffington Post article. You can read the full article HERE)
I remember when I realized my mediation was really working. It was a day where everything felt like it was going wrong. When I got home, I got a call from my mom letting me know that a letter had come from the IRS (I guess I did my taxes wrong a few years ago – opps!). With a smile, I responded, “Bummer. Shit happens though, it’s all good”. And in that moment, I realized the meditation was working. I felt completely calm and unattached to the situation. When people used to explain to me why they meditated, they would describe it as being able to watch a storm pass without feeling rooted in that storm. That’s exactly how I felt. It was like watching a dark cloud pass and seeing it from a distance without any emotional attachment. It was fascinating to witness the power of meditation in action.
It’s wild to think that I used to run away from silence. Now, just a few months later, being silent with my thoughts has become one of my favorite things to do. I now choose to go to sound baths on Saturday nights instead of parties, and prefer doing yoga over almost anything else in the world.
Although traveling is incredible, it is easy to not feel grounded, given the constantly changing locations, time zones, etc. Having a morning routing, including meditation, (and a gratitude journal which I will talk about in a later post!), allows me to feel grounded, no matter where I am in the world.
That 30 day meditation challenge turned into my everyday routine and I have not missed a day of meditation in 197 days (see below).
(Headspace tracks your meditation streaks along with other fun stats for you!)
My goal with my meditation practice was to be more centered, confident, and calm in my everyday life. I can honestly say, that I reap the rewards of this everyday now. It is a truly beautiful thing to allow your mind to slow down and get to know yourself. You become more in tune with everything around you. It not only changes you, but changes your relationships, as you become a more present human being, able to show up for people in your life. If you don’t currently meditate and are willing to try something new, I highly recommended adding this simple practice to your day. Ten minutes a day can truly change your life.