Don’t Hesitate to Meditate

Don’t Hesitate To Meditate

Before you roll your eyes at the recent buzzword - mindfulness - like I did, give it a chance. It will be worth it.

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I know, there are some weird connotations that go along with meditation, and even more so, the people who meditate. You either imagine a spiritual shaman at the top of a mountain or your high school art teacher who was really into yoga or the person who sells homemade soaps at farmer's markets--nothing wrong with any of those people, but not everyone can or wants to integrate meditation or spirituality into every aspect of his or her lifestyle. From where I'm sitting (or shall I say meditating) I think most people, particularly stressed college students, should practice some form of mindfulness. Especially if you are anything like me.

As the end of the semester has been approaching, my tests, homework, activities, and responsibilities have been piling up. I tend to take on a lot of responsibility and fill my schedule to the brim--both a personal choice as well as a need to stay busy, ahead, and constantly building that lovely resumé. On top of my schedule, I maintain some semblance of a social life and personal relationships, which of course are never without drama and stress. So where is the time for me, just myself? Up until now, I solely turned to working out to help me relieve stress and to give myself personal attention. But even though running, cycling, yoga, and pilates are great, they still weren't relieving my stress fully.

I'm certain most of you are in the same boat as I am, or at least some variation--canoe, cargo ship, kayak, take your pick.

So, the turning point. The discovery. Whatever we want to call it. Monday of this week, I drudged through my class schedule, returned to my room, and plopped down on my bed feeling burnt out and particularly stressed. Next, I opened up Instagram to intake my dose of useless content for the day. One of the first things I came across was a recommendation for an app which helps you pair workouts with meditation. I already had a run and pilates class scheduled for my afternoon, so it seemed like I could integrate the app immediately.

Unfortunately, I downloaded the app, named "KAIT," and found out you have to pay for a subscription. There is a free trial that I signed up for, despite having no intention or budget to pay for it after the trial is up. The app is very personalized to your goals, preferences, lifestyle, and interest. I really recommend at least trying it out, and if you have the money, subscribing!

So next I looked up some different free apps, the key word being FREE. I ended up getting "Simple Habit" which, like the name implies, allows you to practice simple, unintimidating, and realistic meditation. Because wellness, mindfulness, meditation is a trend at the moment, there are tons of apps out there, so if either of these don't suit your fancy, another one likely will. Also, you technically don't need an app! You can do it on your own. But, if you don't know how to get started or have a wandering mind like mine which draws me back to my stresses and 'to-do's', then you should utilize guided meditation apps or YouTube videos.

I took the first step. I sat down on my bed, headphones in, criss-cross applesauce, and clicked on a 5-minute meditation. Although I think I may have weirded out my roommate a bit, I felt refreshed and relaxed after my meditation. I expected the 5 minutes of sitting and listening to a strangers voice would feel like a lifetime, but it went by extremely fast. For the rest of the week, I have started my day with a morning meditation and finished my day with a sleep-promoting meditation. For me, mindfulness has reduced my stress, improved my sleep, and provided me with a small part of the day to simply focus on myself and reflect.

Keep in mind when you meditate that your mind doesn't have to be completely blank or free from thought. Don't stress yourself out over something that is supposed to destress you! Let it be natural, don't put too much pressure on the experience, and you don't have to "get it right." So give it a try as I did! It may help with your stress levels, attention span, or sleep. But if it doesn't, you won't lose much by trying it.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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