I woke up in the middle of the night and panic crept in.  What am I going to do about payroll?  What happens if my flight gets cancelled?  Is Mr. Fernwicky mad enough to rant on Facebook?  Then the negative non-stop thoughts of doubt!  Despair.  Fear.

Everything is scarier in the dark.  Eyes wide open, I fussed about the “what ifs” until the sun came up.  As light filled the room, my fears seemed to shrink.  I’ve been through lean times before.  There’s always another flight, or another day to travel.  I’m good at resolving conflicts.  Why the sleepless night?

This is how I spent soooo many nights.  And that is what motivated me to learn how to meditate.  As I understood it, meditation is UN-thinking.  I wanted the ability to shut down that awful, fear-mongering voice in my head and get back to sleep.

So, I took an online meditation course.  It was called 40 Days and 40 Nights. (Thanks, David Morelli!) I took it twice, so I learned and practiced meditation techniques, morning and evening, for the better part of three months.  While I had half-heartedly attempted meditation before, this concentrated course of study is when I started to experience the benefits of meditation.

Now, I can easily get myself to sleep or back to sleep.  Sometimes it takes just seconds.  The technique I use most frequently is bringing my energy and attention to the center of my head.  I imagine a point of light (love, God) in the middle of my head.  That focus means I can’t think of anything else, past or future.  It puts me right in the right now…and I drift off  to sleep.

I also meditate in the morning.  Sometimes just for a minute or two.  What I’ve discovered is that in the peace of the now, well, everything seems a little more manageable.

At an AA meeting (I’ll maintain anonymity here!) I heard someone say, “My sponsor told me she wasn’t going to try and teach me anything until I got quiet in my head.  She said, ‘There’s no room for new thoughts when the old ones are running wild.  First, let’s calm down.’  We started with meditation.”  What a great mentoring concept!

If during the day, I find that I am trash talking myself – “Stupid me!” – I find it easier to stop the chatter, and THEN consider a kinder conversation.  Meditation helps me shut down the inane voice in my head.  And it is also my door to inspiration and creativity.  While still a novice, I am sold on the practice.  So…. what do you think?

Ready to UN-Think for a bit?  Here are a few more tips…

  • Commit to 21 days or a month or some length of time before you even consider receiving any benefits from meditation as a practice.  Like golf or reading or running, it takes some “rubber on the road.”  If you enjoy it from the get-go, that’s a bonus.  A course of study requires some discipline.
  • That said, there’s no need to “don the hair shirt” should you miss a day.  I KNOW I will feel better if I meditate.  Why, oh why, do I blow it off?  Or talk myself out of it?  I don’t know.  I’m weird, I guess.  I bet you are, too.  It’s OK if we let ourselves off the hook, and gently place ourselves back on it.
  • Check out HEADSPACE.  These free online meditation exercises are a nice way silence the chatter.  Google “meditation” and you’ll find lots more options.
  • Get up a little earlier and start your day with a few quiet minutes.  When you sleep, you reboot.  Before you get all wound up again, extend the moment with your meditation practice.  Set the timer for 10 minutes and indulge yourself.
  • A mantra or a visual element – the point of light – may help.  Or, you can focus on your breath.
  • Sometimes I have to bring my focus back 100 times in a few minutes.  Just let thoughts move right on through and embrace the silence.
  • You can’t do it wrong.  10 minutes devoted to relaxation is always a win, no matter what happens inside your head.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Easy peasy.
  • Your mind may have been undisciplined for your whole life.  You aren’t going to master meditation in a day.  Or, even in a lifetime.  Just explore it.
  • Expand your current spiritual practice.  Do you pray?  Terrific.  Someone suggested that praying is when you talk to God, or your higher power.  Meditating is when you listen.  Makes sense to me!
  • Incorporate meditating into walking or running or yoga.  Sometimes it helps me to keep my body busy so my mind can be free

Bottom line:  Be kind to yourself, in thought and words and action.  Take a little break from thinking.  UN-Think!  Then, craft positive messages for yourself.  Consider that you can quiet your “monkey mind.”  You can choose the words in your head.  Treat yourself with love, and acknowledge how wise and beautiful and brave and wonderful you are.  Get a good night’s sleep.  And, you may find, as I have, that as I relax into the now I am occasionally filled with waves of joyous energy.  Ahhhhh.

Doesn’t that feel better?

Have you explored meditation?  What do you do to promote positive self talk?  How do you cultivate mental health?

Do share!  Thanks!  xo$ Ellen