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meditate

We’ll be using mediation in this course in several ways. I encourage you to dedicate time either at the beginning of your day or beginning of your workout for at least several minutes of meditation.

The first purpose of meditation is to bring your connection and your awareness deeper. If we’re striving for intuitive eating and mindful movement, we need that internal connection to be strong. As you hone your skill of listening to your internal voice, your personal vision for life and your body, it allows you to filter through the noise around you. Every time you practice your meditation, you are practicing connecting with yourself. As your practice becomes more consistent, your ability to connect and recognize your own voice becomes more natural. It should become like this gentle memory that we practice recalling. The more we practice, the more easily we can recall the memory so that eventually we can recall it over and over throughout our day. Before we know it we move through life more and more connected to ourselves, less and less distracted by the noise. You won’t be enticed by the grocery store birthday cake at work, derailed by the new crash diet your sister starts, or discouraged by that friend-of-a-friend on instagram who’s always in a bikini (we all have one). You start getting so good at doing you.

The second use or value of meditation is to create for yourself a new baseline. If we start our day with breath and connection, stillness and vision, openness and gratitude we set ourselves up for a day with more breath, connection, stillness, vision, openness, and gratitude. The meditation provides us with an opportunity to slowly rewire how we think and respond. And again, like that memory we practice recalling, we’re able to recall that feeling of gratitude that we started our day with; when in a stressful moment, we can pause and see our vision; and we can recall that feeling of being open to the wonderful opportunities instead of frustrated by a change of plans. The real value of the meditation begins when we realize we’ve changed the way we handle life. A stressful day that maybe once maxed us out can be something much more manageable. And then suddenly we notice we’re stress eating less and less. We’re not too maxed out to workout, in fact maybe we crave that time to reset. We’re pacing ourselves better throughout the day. We’re monitoring what we need without going too long without it or drifting too far from that new baseline of stillness, openness, and gratitude.

The third value to meditation is the ability to get you unstuck. We all know the feeling where we just can’t seem to get going, to change patterns, to see things differently, or to see results. As your vision and goals get clearer, your meditation can become a powerful time to welcome the shift you’re seeking into your life. Seeing where you want to go is vital to getting where you want to go. And so like anything else, we have to practice seeing it. Practice seeing the change. Practice being open to something different. Consider it dedicated calibration, resetting your frequency, or simply cleaning the gunk off the windshield. We’ll use affirmations and mantras to help guide our vision and reframe what we see. When we practice meditation regularly, those old stories start to get quieter and more distant.


practice

The one catch with meditation is that like our physical movement, it has to be a regular practice. The longer you go without it, the harder it is to enjoy that peaceful bliss state and the harder it is to recall your vision and connection, and to quiet the noise. Initially, if you’re new to mediation it may take some time for it to feel like stillness. But I promise sticking it out is worth it!

Meditation is something I’ve come around to (from being terrifying to indispensable) over the past decade and a half. When I first started meditating I felt a lot of anxiety. Being prone to anxiety anyway, this was discouraging to me. Wasn’t I supposed to feel better? It was hard for me to sit in stillness because my thoughts would go wild. What I realized over time was that it wasn’t the meditation making them go nuts. I was finally slowing down enough to recognize what was happening inside that head of mine. And by doing so, I was suddenly aware of how out of control my thoughts were on a regular basis. It was a major wake up call when I realized that I was letting my thoughts rule all my emotions and impulses; instead of choosing which thoughts I give attention and value to.

I also realized I was often distracting myself with constant busyness and stimulation to combat the anxiety or “monkey-mind”, as we say in yoga. And while our brains are always working on something, even if it’s just mindless daydreaming, how we receive and respond to these thoughts will determine what kind of emotions we experience and how long these emotions stick around. Our response, like anything else is a skill. And learning this kind of discipline with our thoughts allows have the stillness and mind-body connection we want and need. I want to be really clear about this word discipline. Discipline for this course means a practice. It’s a regular practice of gentle, loving balance of observation, honesty, structure, and freedom. Like I said, it took some time for me to get good at, then enjoy, and then finally rely on meditation as a regular tool. So if you are new to meditation please be patient with yourself and the practice. I urge you to stick with it even if it’s difficult, especially if it’s difficult. Some days it might feel amazing and easy. Some days it may feel hard to reel it all in. The important thing is that we keep practicing.


3 ways

There are three meditations included in this course. The first is noting. This practice is a useful tool for all to manage stress and establish your new baseline. It is especially helpful for those who have trouble with run-away thoughts that often lead to elevated stress and anxiety. The idea behind noting is that we recognize what we are feeling or thinking, without analyzing, chasing, or attaching to any of it. And then we let the thoughts and feelings float by. It’s like you’re watching clouds in the sky and letting the breeze take the cloud away. Another way I like to think about it is imagining a rainstorm. Noting is like sitting by the window inside your house watching the storm versus going outside into the storm and getting tossed and drenched. You see it, you recognize it, but you can separate yourself from it.

The second mediation is affirmation and mantra focused. In this kind of mediation we take a word, feeling, or vision and we focus on letting it become a part of us. We deliberately allow ourselves to embrace and believe it. If my mantra is shift, as I focus on the word I allow myself to visualize this shift while being open to the emotions that would come with it. This kind of practice is essentially opening the door to change. I may choose an affirmation like, “I am capable” if I’m wanting to change specific thought patterns. As I say these words to myself, in my head, I allow myself to feel capable. I let myself believe it and I let go of the beliefs that contradict my affirmation. This particular meditation is especially valuable when we’re seeking change and that getting unstuck we talked about.

The third mediation is a gratitude focused meditation. As we start to change the way we see fitness and our bodies, we want to start with gratitude. We want all movement to be an act of care and gratitude. We are moving away from old thought patterns of keeping score, burning, punishment, and guilt-led choices. In order to make choices that serve our long term health and happiness, we have to start with gratitude.

You can use all the meditations interchangeably. You might find yourself gravitating more to one particular practice. Try to practice each at least one time per week. As you feel more comfortable with the practice, you may not need the guidance. I’ve included some more mediation resources in week 3 resources if you’re looking for more variety.