Four Things I’ve Learned From Practicing Meditation

four things I learned from practicing meditation

I have been told for more than half of my life that I should try meditating. I would always respond with, “I can’t meditate!” or “It’s physically impossible for me to stop thinking for a second, let alone five to ten minutes!” And many other iterations of the same sentiment. Back in September, I hit rock bottom with my anxiety and depression and decided that for once I would try something I had never (sincerely) done before. I started meditating five months ago (and this is what happened).

Premeditated Erin

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by your own mind.

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I have struggled with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) as far back as I can remember. To be real, since as young as five years old, where I felt what I would later call, ‘panic attacks’. My Montessori school referred to my behaviour as a ‘tantrum’, but it was severe overwhelm and fears that my child-mind could not communicate properly.

Naturally, the child panic manifested into teenage anxiety and depression, which led to multiple eating disorders and a host of other bad habits throughout my 20’s and (most of my) 30’s.

The problem was always my inability to quiet the noise. The very notion of a mind without chaos and self-deprecating thoughts was more than a foreign concept it felt like another galaxy concept.

Four things I've Learned from practicing meditation
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Losing a parent, getting married and moving to another country – all of it, created a perfect storm for my inner-conflicts to go off the charts. So, in September, after a very emotional couple of weeks, I decided that I needed to do something about my overwhelm.

HOW I STARTED MY MEDITATION PRACTICE

How did I start? I just woke up one day and decided to give meditation a try. Not going to sugarcoat it, this shit is challenging at first – especially if you’re a person like me whose mind goes 1000 miles per minute.

I started by listening to Yoga Nidra meditations on the Amrit Yoga Institute YouTube channel. I committed to completing one every day for two weeks.

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Amazing things started to happen after the first two weeks of daily meditation. I began to ask the universe to show me in a meaningful way that I was connecting to my higher self. I know that this sounds a bit ‘woo-woo’ as people say, but, after the third week of quieting my mind, I was arranging the pillows on my sofa and thinking about how much I love the colours black, white and orange. Moments later, I was dusting my front window and sitting on the outside of my building was a black, white and orange butterfly.

Four things I've Learned from practicing meditation
This really happened.

Why was this ultimately so significant to me? I love butterflies. I have been obsessed with them since I was a kid. Like, I used to find intact dead ones and keep them in my freezer, which pleased my parents immensely. The universe is regularly sending us signs; however, we are rarely looking.

Which brings me to the topic of this post.

FOUR THINGS I LEARNED FROM PRACTICING MEDITATION

Four things I've Learned from practicing meditation
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I am patient.  HUGE. I have been driven by instant gratification my entire life. My college roommate used to joke that I would go on a run and come home and weigh myself to see if I lost ten pounds. I mean, there were more deep-seated reasons for that, but I won’t lie – I have struggled with having patience. As I progressed with the consistency of my meditation practice, I began to notice that I had much more tolerance for tasks. I stopped getting irritated with people who walked ‘too slowly’ in front of me at the train station. I didn’t huff or roll my eyes when the bank teller was ‘too chatty’ to the customer in front of me. And the biggest one — laugh if you want — I didn’t throw the Christmas lights out the window when I tried to untangle them to put on the tree. 

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I can manifest. Before my meditation practice, I would feel more defeated by processes and resign myself to failure much sooner than I should have. Since moving to Scotland, I had struggled to find work opportunities. Many frustrating dead-ends and tears ensued. Once I started to meditate daily, I became focused on making deliberate intentions related to my income and working. I said to myself, ‘By the end of October, I will have a resolution to this ongoing issue.” I let go of my attachment to focusing on my struggle and decided it was a done deal, by the end of the month, I would be working. And by October 28th this was a reality. There have also been smaller manifestations; from catching random unscheduled trains when running late to an appointment cancellation working in my favour when I needed it. I even found an old-school candy I had been searching for years to locate in a shop near my house. I now do not underestimate the power of cultivating deliberate, prosperous thoughts. That is something I have control over. I had loved this quote from Eat, Pray, Love for years, but only now do I genuinely GET what these words mean:

Four things I learned when I started a meditation practice.

Signs from my inner being are everywhere. I truly believe now that nothing is random, and if I keep my eyes open, the universe synchronises in such a way that it guides me. For example, since starting a meditation practice, if I am unsure of how to decide on what I should do, I surrender my need to ‘know’ – or do what I think others want from me -and ask that the answer come to me. It could be anything from seeing the word ‘yes’ or overhearing a conversation on the train that speaks to me. I am learning that I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself to know what I ‘should’ do and trust that I will make the right decision no matter what. We don’t make mistakes. We only surrender the need to control ‘getting it right’. 

Four things I've Learned from practicing meditation
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Gratitude is everything. I spent so much of my life focusing on what I didn’t have. For the past four years, I have reminded myself to be aware of all that I have, but that little voice saying, “Yeah, but you should have more, be more, do more, etc.” — that voice has been silenced. When I first started my current meditation practice, I created a ‘gratitude box’ – which is a box filled with bits of paper with all of the things for which I am grateful. Each day, the first thing I do is open that jar and pull out one thing that I am grateful for and place a deliberate focus on that thing for the day. People! An attitude of gratitude is not bullshit. Cultivating a grounded practice will change your life in ways that you won’t believe unless you see them. I will likely write an entire post on this topic. Still, everything from my relationship with my body to my confidence levels has improved since I shifted my focus to being happy with what I already have going for me. I have understated this, but it truly cannot be. Gratitude is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

four things I learned from embracing a meditation practice

I cannot wait to see what continues to unfold as I build and progress my meditation process and place an emphasis on embracing my conscious awareness. I am sad that it took me so long to finally give meditation a try, but I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do it for the rest of my days. In fact, I am going to start keeping a meditation journal following this awesome guide from RelaxLikeABoss.com so that I can recall and reflect fully on the benefits of my meditation practice. Check it out here!

Do you practice meditation? Let me know!

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