The Most Important Habit I Formed

Hands down, meditation has to be one of the most important habits I have formed.  It’s been my savior in times of great stress, my companion for all medical procedures, and my friend in seeking calmness and inner peace.  It can be your best friend too!

Admittedly, I had a bit of a rough start with it. My mind wasn’t really into it. I thought I was more of a mountain climber than a meditator.  Though I’ve now since learned you can absolutely be both (though my mountain climbing days are long over).  Also, try as I might, I just couldn’t get my mind to slow down. In short, I couldn’t get meditation to work for me. Thankfully I kept at it and it’s now one of the easiest states I can slip in and out of as needed. And it’s definitely been needed!

First, a quick refresher on what meditation is.  I keep this definition bedside as a reminder of this strategy that’s been so helpful to me.

Meditation:

A practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular

object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness,

and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.[1]

Meditation is used by people in various ways and for various reasons. Some use it often, others at specific times. I have found that there are three particular times that meditation has proven most helpful to me. Though I also find that starting and ending my day with meditation sets the right tone and pace for the day.  It also ends it on a peaceful note. But back to my top three…

During times of high stress: At first, this seemed like the worst time that I should stop to meditate. These times were often when I was running tight against a deadline.  Alternatively, brain fog had caused me to lose track of time, making me run late. I quickly came to realize that these are the times that meditation could become my best friend. Even though I was often running short (or behind!) on time in these instances, stopping and taking even 10 minutes to meditate actually set me back on track quicker.

If you are like me, when you or your mind is racing around in a panic, that’s when mistakes happen the most and they set you back even farther. While stopping to meditate in these moments, I often save myself my panicked mis-steps and I am able to proceed with the task at hand and with my mind in a better place.

During medical procedures: My strategies during any medical procedures (even simple blood draws) are two-fold:  Don’t look at the instruments and get prepared to meditate my way through the procedure.

Now, as soon as the procedure starts, I began by slowing my breathing down (which has already quickened at the thought of what is about to happen). I slowly start to relax my entire body and focus solely on my breathing.  I even let the provider’s narration fall to the background unless there are instructions for me to follow. I’ve found that doing this makes the procedure go faster.  It also becomes more pain-free for me and because my body is relaxed the procedure often goes smoother than if I had let my body tense up for it.

Trying to fall asleep: One of the most elusive things in my life – sleep! At times I find my mind is racing too much to let me even get to a place that comes close to letting sleep in. It may be that I had too much screen time before bed or have something stressful on my mind.  Or, perhaps I’m just worrying because I’m so exhausted that I can’t think straight.

When I meditate in bed there’s two different methods I try. I will either slip into some deep breathing exercises. Often this quickly does the trick. It refocuses my mind on restfulness.  It also slows it down to a pace more conducive to sleep. The second method I try at night is conducting a meditative body scan.  I slowly focus on one small part of my body, starting at the top of my head and move my way down. At each body part, I focus on relaxing that part of my body, whether it’s my facial muscles, fingers, or abdomen. Quite often I find that I never even make it to my waist or knees. Getting so many parts of my body into a relaxed state often causes the others to get there too and before I know it, I’m asleep.

If you haven’t yet tried meditation, I encourage you to consider it. It can be a wonderful resource to tap into when you find yourself winding up, pacing too quickly, or simply unable to relax. Try not to get discouraged if it doesn’t “work” at first though.  It doesn’t come natural to everyone. Like anything in life, it takes practice. But dare I go so far as to say it’s been a magical tool for me quite often now!

For those of you that are more experienced with meditation, please help spread the magic around! I’d love for you to share how and when you use it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation

36 thoughts on “The Most Important Habit I Formed

  1. It’s interesting how taking a couple of minutes to slow down when you are stressed or rushed can actually set you ahead. It’s definitely true! Thanks for the post!

  2. I’ve never tried meditation but one of my clients swears by it. She always says that it takes practice and there’s no right way as such, we all have to find what works for us. I do have trouble sleeping though so perhaps meditation might help me with that, I’ll have to try it!

    1. I definitely recommend it Lisa. And your client is so right – it takes practice. For me it was #fail, #fail, #success!

  3. Nice thoughts on meditation! I have never done it before! So definetly this article will make new people to try meditation who have never done it before!

  4. I hear celebrities talking about meditation on podcasts all the time. The idea of doing it during medical procedures is such a calming notion. Doctors are one of my biggest fears so that sould be a great tool to have.

    1. It’s been great for me during medical procedures Laura – I don’t like needles at all and it really helps in these moments!

  5. I enjoyed this post! I find it helpful and encouraging, as I have been attempting to meditate. I’m finding it very difficult to focus and let meditation “work” for me. Your post has encouraged me to not give up!! Thank you!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post sharon! Keep practicing because once you have nailed it, you’ve nailed it for good! It’s the gift that keeps giving!

  6. I will definitely give this a try. I am experiencing stress from work and school related stuff these past months and I am having a trouble getting enough sleep every night. I am really became disoriented. Thanks for sharing such encouraging article. Hope it will work for me the first time

    1. I hope it works well for you too Jeph. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some practice – it took me a bit of time to stay focused during these sessions. Once you got it though, you got it! Take care!

  7. Great post! I actually just have started meditation this year and am amazed at how effective it is. I am more energetic and productive during the day. It’s incredible how just a few minutes of slowing down, calming yourself mentally & physically could improve the overall well-being so much.

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the post Alex! It is truly amazing how effective it is! I’m so glad it’s working out so good for you!

  8. Wonderful post. I am a firm believer in meditation. It got me through my cancer diagnosis and treatments. It got me through a second cancer scare. You are right, it’s hard to settle your mind in the beginning. My mind would wander all over the place. It just takes a bit of practice. Guided meditations helped me learn the techniques. I continue meditation now. Not daily, but several times a week. I really should get into daily meditation. Such a fantastic technique to clear and settle your mind.

    1. Thank you Patricia! I’m so sorry to hear of your challenges but happy to hear that meditation helped you get through it all. It’s magical!

  9. Meditating is such a great habit. I am so glad that I found my way to it. My life has been much more peaceful since I learned to be still.

  10. Great post and great advice! I have done a little bit of meditation before but never really dove fully into it.
    I think I need to give this another try. Thanks for sharing!

  11. A few years ago, before I started having anxiety related to health problems, I would have rolled my eyes at your post. But I get it now! These are some seriously helpful ideas….even for someone who isn’t generally anxious. I particularly like that you can work it into your routine!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Amanda to be honest a few years ago before I got a chronic illness and was an avid sportester, I would have rolled my eyes too Now I am all over meditation too!

  12. I love this post. Although I have tried meditation before, I have never been successful. But after reading your post I intend to give it another try. Your opening lines convinced me that I have to give it another shot.

    1. I’m glad to hear that Poovanesh – it took me a while to get it to work for me. Quite a while but once I got it it sticks! It’s worth the practice

    1. Thank you Purba – I’m so glad to hear about the great impact yoga and meditation have had on your life! Me too!

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