An Ad Suggested I Try Meditation. Here's What Happened When I Listened.

An Ad Suggested I Try Meditation. Here's What Happened When I Listened.

It’s amazing what our bodies remember that our minds may choose to ignore.

I fidget a lot and though I’ve always been low-key fascinated by meditation, there has always been a part of me that felt that time spent awake should be time spent active.

At least, until I saw this add on Instagram and kept hearing it interrupt my music on Pandora. The advertisement was for this app called Headspace, they were offering a free Take 10 challenge where you’re supposed to dedicate ten minutes a day for ten days to meditation.

I’m a true believer in Albert Einstein's definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”. And having recently watched the Laura Vanderkam TED Talk on “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”, I realized that my ritual of wine and Netflix was not enough to rid me of my everyday stress and anxiety.

With nothing to lose, except perhaps my tendency to hold onto stress, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The first few days I found it hard to focus (the fidget was fidgety, who knew?) and set aside time. But the app has this built-in reminder to “get some headspace” and app founder Andy Puddicombe’s calming voice reminds the listener of the benefits of repetition and makes helpful suggestions about location and the importance of posture so that your body can feel relaxed, but aware. I had no real excuses not to stick to it and It was surprisingly easy to turn into a habit to put make my self care a priority in this new way.

Puddicombe focuses on the senses, the movement of the body with each breathe, the feel of the weight of your body on the chair and feet on the floor and the sounds and smells around you. It seems silly, but it’s about mindfulness and being present. Some things I desperately needed a reminder of.

By day three I felt a change. I found myself focusing on breathing instead of worry. I was slowly allowing myself to live on the present, even when stressful situations came my way.

Day five, I started understanding Puddicombe’s point that we, as individuals, judge ourselves too harshly. We add judgement to everything. Our appearance, intelligence, capacity for empathy and countless other things. We even judge ourselves for that initial judgement. And for me at least, if I mentally hold onto some of that judgement, my body also holds onto that judgement.

It’s amazing what our bodies remember, that our minds may choose to ignore, and it’s amazing how we can hold onto negative feelings without noticing. I hold tension in my shoulders and no matter how many stretches or exercises I do, it’s always there as a reminder that I am not doing 100 percent right by me. A factor that I had thought I grew out of, but by taking time to check in with my physical and emotional self I was able to reconnect with how stress affects far more than my mood.

Every so often the app plays short animations to demonstrate the positive effect of meditation. Perhaps a little cutesy, but visualizing your busy mind as a sky with clouds that represent thoughts, might make letting go of negative or unproductive thoughts a little easier.

Day ten came and I found myself wanting to commit more. I’m someone with an absurdly busy mind and a majority of the clouds occupying this sky aren’t productive or positive lately, so, taking a moment to breathe and feel without judgement was liberating.

I understand that I am in no way cured of my every day stressors, but something I am starting to realize is that the mind and body need constant maintenance.

There is no quick and easy cure and you cannot start meditation expecting immediate results. It’s about checking in with yourself and distancing from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Like with anything worth having, stress and anxiety relief is an investment and while you may not want to pay money past the free trial of this app, there are plenty of books and Youtube videos that offer similar options.

Meditation may not be for everyone but even this skeptic is sold.

Cover Image Credit: itunes

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To The Girl Who's Lonely, It's Time To Recognize Your Worth

Your value is not based on what other people think of you.

Dear Lonely Girl,

You are not alone. I know it's hard, and we all feel lonely sometimes. We don't always do well at taking care of each other, and we start to question our self-worth. Please know that you are more than enough just by being you.

It's OK to be lonely. Nothing is wrong with you because you want to be around other people or you're hoping for someone to love you in the way you wish they would. I pray that you find the strength to take care of yourself despite any unfulfilled hopes and desires. Don't rely on other people for your happiness.

Unfortunately, you will be disappointed. People are imperfect. Find the beauty in the things that surround you and what you're doing each day.

There is so much in the rollercoaster of life that makes living colorful. Remember that there are aspects of life that matter to you and things you are passionate about. Continue to work to be inspired. There's some beauty in loneliness. You might come to discover more about yourself than you initially thought you could. Know that someone out there cares about you, even if human beings are imperfect in expressing love.

I hope that you have even one person that you connect with that cares about you.

Your value is not based on what other people think of you.

Your identity is so much more than that.

Treat yourself well. Life is too short - you should be collecting experiences. Even if it's by yourself, go to that movie. Take the road trip. Go find out something about yourself that you may not discover another way. Just because someone has not expressed an undying devotion to you does not mean all hope is lost. You are still beautiful. You have thoughts and ideas that matter. Your struggles, hopes, and dreams deserve to be known. If today was hard, tomorrow will be better.

Feeling lonely is a little easier if you like being with yourself. I hope that you can see your self-worth and beauty as much as those who love you can.

This letter is as much to you as it is to myself.


A girl who's also lonely sometimes

Cover Image Credit: @hellodarlingblog

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6 Things You Can Do Right Now To Get Your Shit Together

Don't just buy the planner, use it.

If you clicked on this article, you're probably expecting advice on how to get your life together from someone who has their life together. Well, your expectations are mostly correct. We're on this journey of self-care, wellness, and organization together. My life isn't all that together, but these are six things that I try to keep up with, and even if I stray from this path sometimes, I promise this is still good advice.

1. Get a planner.

Planners are hands down one of the easiest ways to keep track of things that you have going on in your day to day life. I would be so lost without mine.

2. Use that planner.

Just because you have a planner doesn't mean your life is suddenly going to become organized. You have to take the time to fill it out. I recommend getting a different color for each thing you put in there. For example, I use black ink for classes, red ink for due dates, blue ink for plans and events, and green ink for work.

3. Actually get ready in the morning.

Trust me, I know this is easier said than done as sweats and t-shirt are my go-to every morning. However, I've always been told, if you look good, you feel good. Now, this isn't to say you always have to be dressed to the nines, but it might give you a confidence and a motivation boost if you dress to impress from time to time.

4. Try to let go of your bad habits and create good habits.

Bad habits can be hard to break, and good ones can be even harder to start. However, it takes about three weeks of doing something for it to become a habit, so challenge yourself to work good habits into your life.

5. Drink more water.

Most of the people who either have their life together or are attempting to get their life together drink a lot of water. I use the iHydrate app to keep track of my water intake and I try to have water with me wherever I go. Instead of asking for a pop (sorry, I'm from the midwest), ask for a water. Your body will thank you and it's free at most, if not all restaurants.

6. Exercise

Exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. No matter how much or how little you do, just doing the act of doing it is enough. Everyone has got to start somewhere. Plus, you'll definitely look and feel like your life is together even if it's not there yet.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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