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.
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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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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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The 3 Lies You Tell Yourself When You Dismiss Someone’s Compliment

Accepting compliments graciously does not make you prideful and self-absorbed.
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I will be the first to admit that I am notorious for rationalizing myself out of compliments or just straight up dismissing them.

I only found myself with a better perspective after I got outside of myself (shocking, I know). Not only did I realize how offended I would feel if someone doubted or dismissed the genuineness of my own compliment directed at them, but I realized that I have actually been lying to myself in order to justify dismissing them! Red lights.

See if you can relate to telling yourself any of these lies, and make sure you read to the end for some truth to speak over yourself instead.

1. "They’re lying."

This is my go to because it's so easy to just think this and move on, which is horrible, but, apparently, I am horrible sometimes.

Maybe you don’t sound as harsh in the way you respond. “They can’t actually mean that.” But, ultimately, you’re still telling yourself the same thing. You’re literally lying to yourself about them lying.

If you can’t see the problem here, well, then, that’s a problem.

2. "They’re just saying that to make me feel good or they just want something out of me."

This reflects bad motives on those that (chances are) are genuinely complimenting you simply because your view of yourself doesn’t allow for the heartfelt and honest kindness they’re showing to you.

Maybe you try to make it sound good, like “You’re too nice to me.”

OK, no. This isn’t some kind of personal pity party that they decided to throw for you because they were like “Aw, she actually sucks, so I should probably be nice.”

These assumptions are so insulting, not only to yourself but to those people who see the good in you and want you to see it as well.

Imagine how you would feel if someone dismissed something you said to them in this same way. It’s really rude and hurtful.

3. "I'm not talented/pretty/whatever it is they’re saying I am."

This is really the heart of the issue because none of the other assumptions would be made if you didn’t believe this lie in the first place.

We have to completely change our internal dialogue. Start speaking truth to yourself.

Accepting compliments graciously does not require you to be prideful and self-absorbed.

I'm not sure where this idea got started, but apparently, it's running rampant through the streets now.

Words of affirmation are meant to do just that and there's nothing wrong with it!

And, if you feel like you don't even have this problem, because it seems like no one feels any need to compliment you, just know that Someone already has.

Your Creator knew you and formed you perfectly in His Image according to His will and what He knew would be good.

Isaiah 43 says,

"But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel... you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you."

Zechariah 3:17 says,

"The Lord your God is in your midst... he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

And Psalm 139:14 says,

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

We have every reason to rejoice in what God has done in and through us.

Be thankful that He has given you these words and so many others so that you can be secure in Him and what He has spoken over you, rather than being overly preoccupied with what others are or are not saying. And if they are complimenting you, be happy to accept it and return the kindness.

Speak truth in love, not lies in self-loathing.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

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