As I’m starting this month’s 7-day challenge of meditation this Sunday, May 21, I thought I’d get my friend, Sara Bussandri, who blogs over at Mind Your Mamma to guest post this week on her experiences with her meditation practice and struggles with it.
Part of the issue is getting into a regular practice and sticking to it come hell or high water. It helps to set yourself a time, duration, and schedule it into your calendar. It also helps to hold yourself accountable by telling someone else you’ll be doing this for 7 days so you’ll stick to it.
If you’re keen to start a meditation practice but have trouble sticking to a routine, download these tips here, and join my Facebook Group here to tell us when you’ll be meditating during the challenge, and we’ll help keep you accountable for these 7 days.
In the meantime, here’s Sara’s story.
...were the 4 words that changed everything.
About a year ago, I was lucky to have a session with a Life Coach. And after 40 minutes of me talking AT him about my crazy life, he hit me with this question.
“Of course I never stop. If I stop, everything stops. If I stop, all the balls I’m juggling will fall. I cannot afford to stop”, I thought.
But that’s all he needed to say, really. Because all of a sudden, I got it. That was it. I now knew why I always felt so exhausted, unsettled and overwhelmed. All the time. I just had way too much going on – my mind was always racing. To the next thing on my to-do list. A to-do list that reflected the enormous amount of pressure I was putting on myself for everything to always be perfect. In every aspect of life.
During the weeks that followed this session I felt even more unsettled. Something really wasn’t right. It finally hit me that what I was experiencing was stress. Something had to give. So I made the decision to leave my job and focus on life at home, my family, and me.
But old habits die hard. And I was still piling on the pressure – I had to do, achieve, be efficient.
I fell on my stairs at home and broke my leg, and I was unable to walk unaided for 3 and half months. With a 2-year-old son that you can’t hold or push in a pushchair when you’re on crutches, it meant I was pretty much home-bound too. And just like that, I was forced to stop.
I was forced to stop the doing. And ‘just be’.
And drop ALL the balls I was juggling.
And guess what? It was tricky. It was definitely a bit harder on my family for a while. But everyone adjusted, and life carried on.
Leaving my old ways behind.
Breaking my leg was a bit of a freak accident, but when it happened, my mental state wasn’t right. I was feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, and I hadn’t even been back a day from a 3-week holiday! The 5 days I spent in hospital before and after my surgery were quite emotional – it was the hard realisation that things had to change. I had to change.
So when I got home and felt well enough, I started my blog to share my story and my message and to keep myself accountable to the very real need for change.
Obviously it was now clear to me how my health and well-being, and the smooth functioning of my family life, depended on it! I had read a couple of books on mindfulness meditation in the past, but I struggled to follow meditations from a book. So I tried some apps. I started with Calm and then moved on to Welzen and Headspace.
My practice has helped me to really see just how busy my mind is. How much my thoughts come and go at a pace that I can’t keep up with! And trying to let them go and stick with the meditation - resisting the urge to act on them - has really been (and still is) the hardest part for me!
Practicing mindfulness has also helped me be calmer at home with my children and respond more to situations, rather than reacting to them. I have certainly become more self-aware and can often ‘catch’ myself before getting stressed. I actually try and avoid situations that cause me stress where I can, but when I do feel I’m tensing up, I know that closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths (it takes seconds!) is all I need to bring an element of mindfulness back into my day and get back ‘on track’.
Not to mention how mindfulness meditation has helped me with the physical recovery from my injury – I’ve managed to keep a positive attitude and focus on the present day, on the progress made and the next mini-milestone, rather than feeling overwhelmed at how far my ‘new normal’ seemed to be. And when I feel anxious about stairs, focusing on the present moment (or present step!) helps me tremendously.
Unfortunately, I’m quite erratic with it. Although I do several informal, quick deep breathing sessions during the day, I just can’t get into a routine with my formal practice. All I’d love to do is spend at least 10 minutes every day, sitting with my spine straight, my eyes closed, and do a simple body scan, for example.
I had got into a routine of doing this at night, but somehow I stopped. Early morning doesn’t quite seem to work for me – I just can’t get up early! And although I had got into a mid-morning / before-I-start-work routine, I am so keen on starting work and making the most of the little time without all 3 children that I happily skip my meditation session, and that’s frustrating!
I just hope to be able to find a routine that works for me and be able to stick with it. Either that, or get to a point where I realise how much I’m not functioning without my daily meditation practice!
Will I get there?
Do you practice mindfulness meditation regularly? What obstacles do you find?
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