Although I have always been intuitive with my connection to the Universe, and I’ve always had this weird way of manifesting things I wanted, I was also very distracted. And angry. And resentful. Oh, and I played the martyr, too. I lived with a victim mentality and a scarcity mindset. As a young person processing (or not processing) sexual abuse, I struggled with identity, worthiness, and self-loathing - all of which showed up in my issues with food and relationships. As a young adult, those struggles transformed into control issues: I thought my job was to be the controller of everyone and everything around me, that I was the only one that could do anything right. When I was 25, I had some massive breakthroughs that really began to set me on a new trajectory. Even though I was carrying around a lot of deeper, older shit, I was still able to release a ton of baggage. And because of that release, I experienced a bit of a golden age where I was more expressive than I ever had been in my life. For the first time I got a sense of true freedom.
But in the grand scheme of life, the golden age was fleeting.
I found myself in a marriage that was slowly but surely sucking the life right out of my soul. Survival became a state of mind and had won against the desire for freedom and greatness. The depression of my circumstances - and the belief that I WAS my circumstance - finally pushed me to a place where I realized it was time for a shift. A big one. I could NOT keep going the way I was. I knew I was meant for big things in this world, and it simply was NOT going to happen if I didn’t make any changes. So I released my marriage and moved the girls and I into one bedroom at my mom’s house. We cozied up and simplified life. That is when the light started to creep back in. Well, I guess a more accurate description would be the floodlights turned on.
I swear I could turn this into an infographic! I have this vision in my head of my silhouette split in half by a lightning bolt or something. One side is really red and orangey and it has the same expression as that angry emoji - all aggressive and pissed off. Above it says: Tina BM (before meditation). The other half is Tina AM (after meditation). This half has the expression of a peaceful, small smile - you know that smile you do when you just had a beautiful memory come to you, one that makes you blush just a little and your eyes turn up. On this half, light beams from my heart center and Tina AM is surrounded by a beautiful array of soft watercolors. This half is the mystic, the visionary - completely centered and on a journey of discovery, invention, and learning. The two halves are like night and day.
Which half best represents you and where you are at in your life right now?
If you are noticing that life feels like its happening TO you, or that your life seems to be a constant whirlwind, or that you tend to feel more like the Tasmanian Devil and less like Winnie the Pooh, then I definitely recommend incorporating some quiet time into your life. The benefits of meditation are life changing and can impact your social emotional wellbeing, increase your mental focus and concentration, improve your relationships, calm your biological systems, and positively impact your overall health. So I guess the question is…why wouldn’t you build a meditation practice?
Whether you are new to mediation or a seasoned practitioner, here’s my advice: EXPERIMENT!
1.) Start small and work your way up to longer times. When you first start meditating, 5 minutes can honestly feel like a lifetime.
2.) Meditation is a practice...so you gotta practice! You want results? You want greater piece of mind? Then you can’t quit because it uncomfortable!
3.) Release judgement. Some meditations are easy, some are hard, some are focused, and some feel like a traffic jam. Let it be what it is, and know the next practice will most likely be a totally different experience!
4.) Try a variety of guided meditations until you find one you like. We all have different tastes and styles, so try as many as you need until you find something that resonates with you.
5.) Try meditation with: music; keeping a steady gaze on something (flickering candle is nice!); counting your inhales and exhales or inhaling and exhaling to a mantra; chanting (LOVE Deva Primal and Miten for this! See Gamechanger section below.)
6.) Avoid the itch! Its inevitable - your nose or the palm of your hand or something else is going to hitch! Once you scratch your cheek, then your foot will tingle, or something somewhere else on your body is going to scream for attention. It’s your body’s way of trying to keep you from disconnecting. But the disconnection from the body and mind is where the magic happens - so don’t start the avalanche!
Some of our students are dealing with so much baggage - often times we can’t even begin to realize what they are dealing with once they step outside our protective spaces. And our other students who might not have the intense trauma could easily be dealing with the pressure to be perfect, successful, achieve beyond expectations, and so on. So why not create a restorative environment with high control and high support to counter the stress, expectations, and baggage they walk in with? Do some experimenting with different mindfulness practices and meditation and see for yourself if it impacts their ability to connect with others, increase test scores, improve confidence, balance out moodiness, etc. Whatever you try, just be consistent with it and give it a fair chance at making an impact.
Before every important test, guide your students in taking three deep breaths together. Invite them to close their eyes (because when your eyes are closed no one can see you! hehe!) and count to 3 or 5 on the inhale and again on the exhale. Do that at least three times. Then have them visualize the grade/score/outcome they desire. While sitting in this silent meditation, ask them “What will it feel like to earn that grade/outcome?” Let them sit with that visualization for a few more breaths. When they slowly open their eyes, go directly into the test. This process can take less than three minutes but could potentially impact their entire state of being while they continue on with the task at hand.
The Power of Meditation: An Ancient Technique to Access Your Inner Power by Edward Viljoen
The Meditation Podcast by Jesse and Jeane Stern
Guided meditations by Dr. Joe Dispenza, found on his website and iTunes
Chanting Mantras with Deva Premal and Miten: A 21-day Immersion in the Power of Sacred Sound