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Published: October 30, 2017
Happy Monday! I wanted to start this final Make it Count Monday by thanking Jeanice at Skydive OC for making these last 5 weeks possible! What a great opportunity to connect skydiving, health, and wellness and share them each week. Additionally, I wanted to thank you all for reading... That makes the experience so much more fun and worth it.
For this last Make It Count, I want to talk about the importance of making each minute count by slowing down and noticing more. Being present in each moment. Stopping to smell the roses, even (or the Pumpkin Spice, this time of year I guess)! What is life if we are constantly worried about what is going to happen, or stressing about what has already happened, instead of focusing on this moment right now? And what can you do to not only be more present in this moment but get more out of it at the same time? So often our lives are filled with packed schedules, life on the go, and always rushing from here to there barely noticing how it happens or what occurs in between. With all this hustle and bustle, it is imperative to take a few moments and reset ourselves.
I was introduced to the magic of meditation a few years ago, and let me be the first to tell you, it was far from magical to start with! If you're anything like me, and probably most of the humanity, the minute you stop moving and going, your brain flips on and suddenly it is vibrating with noise. You're familiar with that noise... it barely pauses on one thought before that though morphs into something else and before you can even figure out what that thought is it's onto the next! Yes, this is my brain on meditation. Go! Go! Go! Which is why it is so much more important to find a way to stay. Stay. Stay. Meditation is one of those things I do not notice very much when I do it, but I sure do notice the difference when I don't! For that reason, I dedicate at least three minutes a day to stopping, sitting, resting my eyes, and attempting to focus on nothing. (I say attempting because meditation is hard, but that's why I practice it!)
At the beginning of this year, I began my journey toward deepening my personal yoga practice and committing to becoming a certified yoga teacher. A huge part of my homework from my yoga guru was committing to a daily meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques) practice in addition to physical yoga. It wasn't always pretty, but it did transform my ability to experience presence in my daily life and made an enormous impact on not only my stress level but also my ability to deal with stress. See, the goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts, necessarily... An active mind is a very natural state. The goal of meditation is to become more aware of thoughts and emotions and to learn how to allow them to move like traffic, without getting stuck or attached to each one.
One of my favorite quotes and why I meditate is from Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual teacher who dedicated his life in service to aspiring humanity. He was quoted as stating "I meditate so that my mind cannot complicate my life." If there's anything I have learned throughout my years of skydiving, it is to enjoy every second. The most beautiful part of the skydive is the skydive... during the skydive! Sure, the plane ride is fun, and reminiscing about your skydive is amazing, especially if you have video or pictures of it! But the most amazing part is the actual experience of the skydive itself. Since it really only lasts a few seconds, maybe a minute if you're lucky, the last thing I want to do during those precious moments is think about anything other than THIS MOMENT RIGHT HERE. Right?? It's the most glorious example for anyone who has experienced it, but it's also an important lesson for life as a whole. Life is occurring RIGHT NOW. It doesn't matter if you're making a skydive, but that presence should be attained during each moment, during each breath, and during each experience. That is the essence of meditation. It is the short, compacted practice of being more present in the moment.
So now I have definitely convinced you to at least give it a try for a few days, right? Of course! But how do you start? Find a quiet place and a comfortable, seated position. Close your eyes, and then start to focus on your breathing. It helped me to count my breaths, or have a short and simple mantra to repeat on the inhale and exhale. That way, if my mind became distracted, I could always come back to the count, my breath, and the mantra. One mantra I enjoyed when I first started was saying "here" on the slow and steady inhale (in my head), and "now" on the slow and steady exhale. Here. Now. Here. Now.
If that doesn't quite do it for you, I also recommend trying a meditation app. I use the free app on my iPhone, Headspace; however, there are several that come highly recommended such as Calm, Buddhify, The Mindfulness App, or the Smiling Mind. These are short, simplified, guided meditation sessions which can have lasting and dramatic impacts on your mind and life. After all, the greatest gift is truly the here and now that we are able to experience!
Give meditation a try for a few days and notice the improvements in your everyday life. If you'd like to give it a try, I'm hosting a short introduction to meditation on my Facebook LIVE at 7 pm this evening. Head on over to Running Yogi Mom on Facebook and check in to check out for a few moments. Hope to see you there!