But First, Meditate.

Every morning I sit in this space. (Well, most mornings, when I can… sometimes after milks are poured and waffles toasted, jammies pulled over heads and sandwiches wrapped in plastic.)

I tuck in around myself and breathe.

At first my inhales are short and gasping, my throat still flustered from keeping up with everyone else’s demands; but then I breathe again – this time slower – until breath by breath I can feel my jaw fall slack and my belly swell and the buzzing in my head fades and quiets (if even just a little).

I light a candle, the flickering flame signaling the start of a new day, new possibilities, a new chance to experience joy. I sip my coffee and, for the first time, I am able to taste it – soft, sharp, familiar, new.

Now I close my eyes. Drop the curtain and everything lets go (not completely…no, never completely) but enough to feel the rise and fall of my ribcage – a tide keeping time with the great heaving of Mother Earth.

I put on my headphones and block out the last echoes of some lilting Disney cartoon from downstairs.  My heart is the metronome now, expanding the cocoon of my temporary solitude. I tune in to my inner noises; I drop in to the space of stillness and knowing.

I must admit all this is never quite enough to drive away every thought and distraction – arriving like doorbells and piling up like junkmail. She’s not home, I sigh, closing the door again and again. Some days they eventually stop coming, but other days they bring the whole neighborhood.

Over time I’ve learned to be patient with these cerebral visitors. They are usually well-intentioned. I mean, I do have a life to attend to after all. But I tell them they will be just fine waiting on the porch of my mind with a cold ice tea while I go about my important business of Cultivating Inner Peace.

Image by author (from Wild Offering Oracle Deck by Tosha Silver)

I began meditating shortly after I quit drinking as a way to become more deeply connected into my physical body and my unconscious mind. That was almost three years ago.

This daily practice is important to me – no, beyond importantESSENTIAL.

I can feel the difference in the way my brain operates when I meditate regularly.  I am calmer; I am better able to dip and flow with the waves of life; my heart space is more open; and I find it easier to find love and gratitude even when the world seems tumultuous and the future seems dim. 

If you think it’s woo-woo or placebo effect or all in my head, I remind you that my personal experience is backed by science. In fact, I invite you to Google it! There are numerous studies – medical, peer-reviewed studies, in fact – that validate the positive physiological effects of a meditation practice.

The two most common excuses I hear from people who want to start meditating but can’t seem to commit are: 1) I’m just too busy and can’t find the time to fit it into my schedule; and 2) I just can’t quiet my mind or I can’t stop my continuous train of thoughts.

First let me say that you are never too busy to start a meditation practice, no matter how many demands, stressors, or roles you are juggling in your life. We will always find the time for what is most important to us; the problem is that most of us put our own self-care pretty far down on the list of priorities. But truthfully we cannot be the best parent/spouse/worker/boss/friend/etc. if we don’t first care for ourselves. YOU DESERVE TO DEDICATE SOME TIME TO YOURSELF.

I am hereby giving you permission to gift yourself with a few minutes of mindful stillness each day (whenever you can fit it in).

And secondly, you don’t have to be a clear-minded guru (not now or ever!) to sit still and breathe, so go easy on yourself and your chattering mind. Meditation is accessible to all of us, even those with the dizziest daydreams and most widely scattered brains. When I first started meditating I listened to short, 10-minute guided meditations I found on YouTube (and I often still do, on days when I just need a comfortable voice to lead me). Not everything out there is profound, but there are many videos to choose from! Here are two of my favorites:

Wisdom from the Post-It Note on my bathroom mirror:
“But First, Meditate.”

If I skip my morning meditation, because of laziness or needy kids or the tedious excuses of life, I wobble all day. I yell more, I eat more crap, I have trouble being present. It’s essential that I make this space and time sacred to my mornings. I am a better human, mom, wife, daughter, and friend because I give myself the gift of centering daily.

©Skye Nicholson 2020

3 thoughts on “But First, Meditate.

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