In all honesty, achieving health and wellness does not always fall at the top of my to-do list. As a solution, I often set arbitrary goals as reminders that taking care of myself is just as important as meeting a work deadline or catching up with friends.
Watching people make sacrifices for Lent earlier this spring made me think about what I could do for forty days straight to achieve more balance in my life. After all, creating short term goals reminds us to be conscious of our choices even after the deadline passes. Instead of giving up any one thing or behavior, I decided to add meditation to my daily routine, knowing that it would benefit me far beyond the scope of the resolution.
I first practiced meditating while becoming a certified yoga teacher in Bali. Waking up to meditate on the beach at sunrise was so beautiful; the setting alone made it easier to create a sustainable practice. Soon after I returned home, I fell out of the habit of meditating daily.
Now, as I started on my journey back into meditation, I remembered how daunting it can be to actually quiet the mind. Thoughts of commitments, work issues and relationships flood the mind, begging for attention. For me, the hardest part of successfully meditating is accepting that thoughts will arise and allowing them to pass as they come.
For people who have never explored this practice, guided meditation is a good place to start. When I'm on the train or taking a break from work, having a guide in my ear allows me to thoroughly let go and surrender my thoughts. Ideally I would be back on the beach or at home in front of my yoga shrine, but to achieve my daily aspiration I have begun meditating in unlikely places. (Your practice has to be realistic to your lifestyle.) I have also practiced in unlikely situations, coaxing my coworkers, friends and family to join me in trying new iPhone meditation apps, community classes and to create space in their own lives for quiet.
Recently, a yoga teacher told me that by meditating we acclimate to a sense of calm that becomes part of our being. When presented with stressful situations, we can access this peacefulness and approach the issue in a more mindful way. The Dalai Lama has said that meditation is not for the next life, not for heaven, but for day-to-day well-being. Meditation enhances my awareness and compassion and reinstates health and wellness as an everyday priority.