Could Meditation Be Your Cure-All?
I am the type of meditator who occasionally attempts to meditate, then talks about attempting meditation and how I "sometimes" and "should" meditate.
As I happily dove in to this January's Total Body Reset and a month of eating Sakara for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I was looking sidelong at the accompanying subscription to mindfulness app: Stop, Breathe, & Think.
I've wanted the benefits of meditation for a long time - sense of calm, lessened anxiety, greater ability to focus. I want the edge that it’s said to give, and to possess that intangible inner anchor that I perceive all long time meditators hold.
Yet, a consistent meditation practice has eluded me. It's not because I haven't tried, on the contrary I have. Various apps, traditions, styles, recordings, groups, you name it. But I dread it most of the time and certainly don’t stick with it. Sitting for a 10 minute meditation feels like wrestling a bear - I'm so relieved when it's over and let out a sigh of relief, not realizing how hard it had gotten to breathe.
This year's Total Body Reset has forced me to look more closely at why meditation is so uncomfortable for me and what, if anything, I can do about it. If all the hype about meditation is true— and at this point tradition and science has well confirmed it — the upside is high for me, being a somewhat anxious, very ambitious, and overstimulated urbanite.
Stop, Breathe, Think asks you to fill out a mini survey to gauge your emotional state, before serving up a few guided meditation tracks suited to your needs. Having to consider my answers each day, I saw how I've shackled meditation with a hefty set of expectations, wanting it to be a fast track to blissed out Instagram photos of me meditating on the beach. I want effortlessness, and had devalued how significant even a slight impact on my moment to moment experience could be.
This reminds me why I first started eating whole, plant based food. I wanted to look a certain way and feel a certain way. As many know who embark on living the Sakara Life, you get physical benefits of eating whole plant-based foods, but you also achieve is something much deeper. By eating your greens, colors, waters, healthy fats, and plant protein you shift your microbiome + physiology, as well as your awareness - the latter something I never set out to do. You build a body that has fortitude to weather the ups and downs of life, that you can depend on, and is the jumping off point for deeper personal growth and self inquiry, allowing you to live out whatever you choose as your best self and life. Similarly, who I’ll be and what I’ll get once I have a meditation practice has been the narrative motivating my meditation attempts, and is what makes those wrestling matches with my mind so frustrating - the reality doesn’t match up with the idea I have in my head.
As I used Stop, Breathe, Think, I saw how meditation might not be an immediate, direct line to the all knowing universe and thus solve all my problems, but there was a possibility that it could help me be a better me right now, as I currently am, and that seemed like enough to keep going. While I like to imagine my best self strutting around in my skinny jeans, killing it at work and seeing all my hopes and dreams come to fruition, often times my best self shines in the least glamorous moments, the micro choices where I choose kindness in a tense interaction, strength in a scary one, or determination in the face of doubt. Meditation has become a tool that helps me make those choices more often, and with more grace.
Where Sakara ensures your body will support you in showing up as your best self, in good times and bad, meditation is your ally in training your mind to do the same. I have a ways to go before I'm a bonafide meditator, but I see now that even if I don’t end up as my (delusional) image of blissed out meditation perfection, I might become a better person in the process.
So how do you get started with a meditation practice? Follow along below:
- Download the Stop, Breathe, Think app
- Find a place to sit, or lay. A few of my recent spots: in the middle seat of an airplane, in my car before commuting to work, on the side of my bed with my computer in my lap, when I realized I was opening it before 7am. The important thing is that you do it, but if creating a dedicated space in your home will help with that, then all the better. Treat yourself to a luxurious velvet sitting cushion and mat from ABC Home and Sakara’s signature Manifestation Candle to set the mood.
- Have no expectations - on your first few tries you might not (read - most likely won’t) feel immediately transported to a state of zen and bliss. That’s ok. For me, meditation has become a way to momentarily step out of the rushing river of to-do lists, emails, thoughts, emotions, responsibilities, and an endless stream of stimulation and demands. It hasn’t (yet) slowed the river down, but it does give me a moment to regroup before jumping back in, helping me feel like I have a bit more control when life seems like its getting away from me.
- Next, open the app, take a moment to assess your current state when prompted, then fill out a small survey telling the app how your body feels, what your mindset is, and giving you the option to add your emotions.
- Pick a meditation track from the suggestions given based on your survey answers. You’ll get a variety of styles + lengths, from 3 minutes of guided breathing, to a 12 minute yoga sequence. Choose whatever sounds good in the moment and do it!
- Repeat daily, or many times throughout the day as need :)