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Why Do I Meditate?

Why Do I Meditate Often when I speak at an event or facilitate a group on branding, marketing or leadership development I talk briefly about meditation and I always have people who want to learn. I will, then, either do a quick session after I speak to those interested or schedule to come back to the group. I’m always happy to help people learn this tool that I have found so beneficial. What I get asked MOST often though is WHY do I meditate? What do I get out of it? Does it WORK? Let’s dive into my why:

Why Do I Meditate?

Not to be an Asshole: Literally. I meditate so I am less of an asshole. My first impulse, because I’m scrappy and the last child in my family bullied by older siblings, is to punch out with biting words or thoughts. I’m a jerk. I HATE this about myself and after years of therapy and countless self help books on how not to be so mean I realized that I could just calm that the fuck down. Seriously. I can chill out and if the thought arises I can just NOT SAY IT, but that takes the work of a jedi master and I needed a tool.

Hence, meditation. It gives me the second pause to not say the thing that will crush my opponent. Seriously, no one needs to live on a battlefield every damn day. Snarky isn’t funny and it isn’t cool. It usually is at the expense of someone else and I don’t want to hurt other people.

Destress the Hell Out: Life is stressful. Seriously stressful. In this month alone I have had a banking fiasco (digging out now), found out my daughter might have gestational diabetes – goodbye Lucky Charms, and they found a change in my left breast and I have to have more tests. Seriously. It’s only the 19th of January and life just keeps happening.

Mediation helps me breath past some of that and stay aware, but not panicked. I can sit with more anxiety and just let it pass then I ever have been able to do before. Life doesn’t stop coming at you when you start meditating, but your response can be a little less frantic and your clarity of thinking improves.

Be A Nicer Human: Ok, so we covered that I want to be less of an asshole, but I also want to be a better human. I want to say nicer things. Meditation, in real life, allows me to speak with more love and kindness because I am more aware of my words. Stuff isn’t just flying out of my mouth like a rapid fire crazy person.

Pre-meditation I would just say whatever. Now, although I am still clear and speak my mind I am choosing my words more carefully to consider the other person. We are all on this damn planet together and I don’t want to cause harm to any other person -we all have enough of our own shit going on that we don’t need to pile it on with each other. So words matter and if meditation can help me slow them from spewing out of my mouth carelessly that is a huge win.

Who Do You Want to Be When I Grow Up: I know that if I want to be a Ghandi or Martin Luther King type person (don’t worry, I know I am far far off) I have to do the things that create that foundation and, for me, that is meditation. The ongoing practice of sitting quietly with myself and not freaking out over what my silly mind brings up even for just 15 minutes brings a sense of strength and calm to my life.

I want to be that person who stands with competence, baddassery, and kindness in the midst of raging storms and meditation makes that even a little bit more possible. It’s a practice, like yoga or tae kwon do, you don’t master it in one sitting it takes time. Time spent practicing this is better then running around shopping needlessly, gossiping, panicking or running around like a chicken in the yard. I can’t BE like MLK unless I PRACTICE being like MLK every single day.

In short, I want to disrupt my natural tendencies to judge, react and panic. I want to bring calm and fluidity to my life with grace. The only way I have found that works for me is to meditate everyday. It isn’t a big thing. I’m not perfect… but I don’t expect to be. It’s a practice and every moment I’m off the cushion and life is shredding us up I get to practice over and over.

Ask me your meditation questions and I’m happy to answer. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years and have some really practical tips for busy working mom’s, stressed out partners, doing it anywhere, finding a practice that works… whatever you want to know I will answer. Until then, you can also friend me on Insight Timer and I’ll cheer your practice on.

Ending the Year: A Few Easy Things to Do

Ending the Year Ending the Year: It’s that weird week between Christmas an New Year’s where you may be working, but you aren’t quite back in the saddle. I thought I would offer a few things to do in this in between week that will help make your new year a little brighter.

Choose Your One Word

I’m looking ahead at what I want to see next year and what I think I might encounter and I am solidifying my choice of word. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you go about choosing yours.

Jot Down All the Ideas

I’m in the process of putting down all of the ideas I have for goals for next year. A friend recently asked what the difference was between New Year’s Resolutions and Goals and honestly, probably nothing, except my goals get worked on all year and the bad rap that Resolutions have for fading off in the month has always made me wary of them. I usually do 9 goals, but am considering 12 this year because either I’m overly optimistic or I want to really hustle. Either way, this time is when I start writing down all the ideas. No idea is too big or too silly at this point and they are a mix of work goals and personal goals.

Purge Your Closet

I will be spending some time this week packing away the warm stuff, getting rid of the things that I never wear, and pairing down my clothes in general. I’m completely enamored by Un-fancy’s approach and am thinking of really doing a capsule wardrobe. I don’t love clothes (for a variety of reasons that I’m sure a therapist would enjoy) and want to look polished and put together – that is my only goal. Either way a purge to the closet is in order this week.

Goodbye Old Cornstarch

On Christmas Eve I made traditional fondue, which was great because my daughters boyfriend had never had it. Unfortunately, when I opened the cornstarch there were creepy crawly things in it. Umm. Yuck. So, this week I will be going through our pantry and saying goodbye to anything old and outdated.

Read All the Books

I am diving into the Name of the Wind, a fantasy fiction tome that I would never have chosen, but our badass book club learned that Lin-Manuel Miranda has the rights for TV and film for it and we wanted to be in the know. Therefore I have stepped into unknown territory and am reading a book that has a map with faraway places, killer iron spiders and magicians of some sort. It’s the perfect week for this epic tale.

Ending the Year Doing Good

Move Your Body

I broke my eating plan with a few (literally three) chocolate chocolate chip cookies and an orange roll this holiday and you might have done even more damage and so this week is a great week to do some slow yoga, go on walks and move a little more than you were moving over the holiday.

Whatever you do this week love your people and be kind to those around you. Last week I had to stop into Walmart (something I don’t do very often) and I stopped the worker in produce and asked if they always work in produce. He visibly tightened and said yes, but he wasn’t the manager. I let him know that I didn’t need a manager, but wanted him to know that the current batch of California navel oranges that they have is amazing and that I am so pleased to have them this winter. He relaxed and said no one ever says anything nice and only complains. He was stunned and wished me a happy holiday. People, we can do better. We can be kind during this week and throughout the year.

To Listen – The Greatest Gift of All

Listen To listen – Perhaps the greatest gift we can give. Starting with a little quite might help. I know that many of you either have children still at home or grandchildren, but even with kiddos there is something about it being pitch black at 5:30PM that allows for a little quietude. I relish the darker months just for that. The quiet of the morning and the evening to just be with my own thoughts. It is in those moments that I feel called to listen more closely during the rest of my day – to learn the art of listening.

This post is part of my effort to kick out the year with all the joy I can. You can read all of the other posts here.

Adding Quiet to Learn to Listen to Myself

A few years ago I participated with a group online of crazy amazing Christians to go through the book “7” by Jen Hatmaker. These lovely people allowed me, an atheist, to participate along with them. Each month we tackled one of the chapters and tried to follow it in our lives. One of the months was to give up distractions or media or something and I decided that I would turn the radio off in my car. Now, I’m an NPR lover through and through. It plays in my car every trip I take. Turning it off seemed almost sacrilegious but the chapter said to do it, so I did.

Wow, blessed silence. I could hear my own thoughts. I could be quiet with myself. At first it was disconcerting, but after a while it became my preference. Instead of filling myself up with whatever news story or celebrity drama (yes, even NPR covers some of that – I’m looking at you Fresh Air) I could just learn to be with myself and pay attention to driving. It was kind of a revelation.

Now I drive mostly in silence. It’s a reprieve from all the constant noise in the world and I am grateful for the chance to learn to listen to my own thoughts for a while.

Gathering Myself to Listen to You

For years I wasn’t really listening to you or anyone. I was too busy trying to formulate my own response to you and I was never really hearing what you were saying. I’m embarrassed by this now, but it’s true. Listening wasn’t a skill rewarded in the Wolven home and I took that out into the world. I had to learn for myself that listening – really listening to someone – is a gift that you give the person and yourself. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I’m too lost in my own stuff to listen properly but, often, I can gather myself to really listen. It’s my goal all of the time, but I’m happy when it happens at least some of the time.

One trick I use is to focus on one breath and literally tell myself to listen. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it helps tremendously.

If I’m feeling really out of sorts I will do the Find Five exercise – this helps in meetings when I’m just having a hard time focusing or am getting to caught up in my own thoughts.

Find Five to Focus

  • Find 5 Things You See: you just observe five things right in front of you and name these silently to yourself.
  • Find 4 Things You Hear: listen to the sounds around you and name these silently to yourself.
  • Find 3 Things that You are Touching: this can be the fabric of your jeans, the pen you are holding, the mug in your hand and you just name these silently to yourself.
  • Find 2 Things that You Smell: this can be the coffee in your cup and the shampoo you used yesterday or your coworkers bacon sandwich (baaacoooonnn) and name these silently to yourself.
  • Find 1 Thing that You Taste: this can be your toothpaste, the yummy latte in your cup or the burrito that you ate for lunch – just silently say what it is.

This shouldn’t take a ton of time, like a minute. You lapsed out of the meeting for a second, but your focus should improve with this little exercise which will allow you to listen more fully.

People Want to be Heard

People really do want to be heard. Everyone does. I think that part of the bad behavior online (don’t read the comments anywhere online) is that people don’t feel heard. And they aren’t. People aren’t listening. We can do better. We can learn the skill to really listen and this season, the one of joy and love, is a great time to commit to really listening with your whole self. That kind of gift is priceless and you have the power to give it all day.

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