Why would I ever meditate?
If this is your initial thought, I get it.
Years ago my first mentor in holistic wellness told me I should be meditating at least ten minutes a day. At the time my children were only one and two years old, so while I gave her an emphatic “yes I absolutely will do that,” what I actually thought was, “why, and how?“.
Today I highly value my meditation time. I even get up early to do it, which is really saying something. But what can I say? Meditation ( and prayer, and a lot of other things ) took me from being a yelling mom to a mostly calm, much more self-aware and happy type of mom.
What it is
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind to help the body switch from the sympathetic ( fight or flight ) nervous system mode, to the healing state of the parasympathetic nervous system ( rest and repair ). While most Americans today spend about 95% of their life with the sympathetic system engaged, we would optimally be living the exact opposite: spending 95% of our time in the parasympathetic mode and only 5% in fight or flight.
Meditation is the tool that will train your brain to remain calm and to take life slower and more mindfully, which is an excellent state to practice especially for those with ADHD. And if you want an overview of scientific literature to corroborate that claim, here you go.
Why it matters that you’re stressed
Here’s what no one taught us in school about stress: stress is stress is stress.
Meaning the body perceives all stressors in pretty much the same way. Packaged and processed foods pose a stress to the body, because it has to work much harder than is normal on digestion and damage control ( more on that later ). And in almost the same way, emotional stress or trauma poses a stress to your biochemistry and physiology, leading to acidity and – over longer periods of time – results in oxidative damage to your cells.
As human beings we obviously cannot avoid every form of stress that comes our way. You are going to run late for a meeting, you are going to lose your keys, you are going to feel overwhelmed by your kid’s schedule, and at least once a week you’re gonna feel angry with your spouse ( or we probably can’t be friends ).
You are going to eat foods that aren’t all that great for you here and there; the good news is that no one expects you to be perfect! Enter meditation…
Refer back to the definition of meditation I gave you a few paragraphs ago. Meditation is the tool. That’s it. It’s a tool that will not only help your nervous system switch into rest and repair ( which is essential to not going grey by thirty ), but it’s also the tool that will help you to develop clearer awareness about yourself, more patience for yourself, and as a result more patience for your kids and family.
How to do it right
Try meditating for 3-5 minutes a day this week. And by the way, meditation doesn’t have to look like anything fancy. Gently close your eyes, or keep them open. Sit quietly with your thoughts, observe your thoughts, and observe the thoughts you have about your thoughts.
Withhold judgement; and acknowledge judgment that comes to pass anyways. Meditation is somewhat about discipline, and mostly about being, and allowing yourself to simply be. It’s about listening to your inner voice without distraction. It’s about finding time to feel your breath in a culture that has forgotten breath feels like anything at all.
And if you take this assignment seriously, I can promise you one thing: you will learn something about yourself this week. Perhaps you’ll know your children or your spouse on a clearer level. Perhaps your spiritual fire will be reignited.
And perhaps you will finally feel simply content.
Will you be taking the meditation challenge this week? Tag or share with a friend who will join in on the peace with you. Holding yourself accountable is half the journey.
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