The Art of Meditation

A year ago today if you had asked me my thoughts on meditation I probably would have had zero thoughts. I have never considered meditation as a form of therapy or wellbeing. It was something that hippies and monks did, right? 

So wrong. I have been learning more and more about meditation through my yoga practice but also aside. The benefits are HUGE. Some claim it can even cure illnesses. It decreases stress, relieves anxiety, and promotes mindfulness which our society generally lacks. 

But how does one meditate? What is the goal? What is the technique? That’s the beautiful thing about meditation. It depends on the individual. So I wanted to talk about what meditation is to me and how I meditate. 

First of all, I don’t sit crossed legged with my spine straight and my eyes closed. I can.. But after about 5 minutes I get achey and uncomfortable and can’t focus on anything but my legs falling asleep or my bag starting to sag. So I lie down. It’s my jam. I get a little blanket too. I pretty much prepare for a nap. 

Then I just close my eyes and listen. I listen to all the external noise around me. Biggie eating my couch, dogs barking, birds and wind and everything that’s going on outside me. I take note of all these sounds and make a mental list, then I literally visualize me taking this list and putting it off to the side of my head. Then I start to tune into the internal blabber of my own voice. 

This is where I find meditation challenging. The art of listening to your own internal dialogue as a bystander. Letting yourself think of whatever you’re thinking, acknowledging the thought, and letting it move on. Sometimes my inner voice is so loud and so busy it’s draining. Other days it’s like a calm Sunday in Fruitvale. There’s an occasional thought, then just the awareness of my breath. 

Which leads to the best part. Focusing on your breath. Listening to your inhale and taking note how it makes your belly and your chest rise, then observing how your body falls when you exhale. I listen and note the quality of my breath and see if there’s a way to take bigger breaths. Sometimes this is my meditation and after 10 minutes of that, I’m zen as fuck. 

Other days, when my thoughts are running fucking rampant, I focus on my breath, get distracted by thought, and as soon as I let that thought go I focus on the “space” that follows that thought’s exit. That nothingness. The key is to not judge your thoughts. For example, if I am distracted by what I’m going to eat for dinner, I simply say “this can wait, later thought” and as soon as it leaves, I’m left with this blank space. But I can’t think “oh here’s a blank space” because then it’s another thought and I’m back to saying “ok good job but let’s not think about the blank space”. So it’s that fine balance of just being present and knowing there’s space without saying it or thinking it. Just knowing. From like a deep part in your mind and body. The space doesn’t have to be long or stretched out. That doesn’t give it quality. The more I practice the longer I can make these blank spaces go for longer though and THAT is what I’m working on. 

So after I meditate, I feel present. I don’t worry about the rest of my day or what happened previously in the day or week or in my life. I just get this chill “AH-HA” moment where everything just seems perfect how it is. I become mesmerized by simple things and I just feel so fucking happy it would make a goth kid puke. 

So that’s how I meditate. That’s why I meditate. I don’t know if I’m doing it right or wrong and I don’t give a shit. If I could live in that present state for the rest of my life I think my world would change so that’s what I’m working for! 

How do other people meditate? Let me know! I want to eat up all the information I can. 

BAIIII ✌🏻️

Things I learned the hard way in 2015

‘Tis the season to reflect on the last year and laugh about all the things that seemed important at the time. It was a pretty busy year. I traveled. I got married. I went on a honeymoon to Paris! I became a yoga instructor. I guess these are the big ones. So here is what I discovered in my 28th year.

  1. Elope. 

Seriously. Do yourself a huge favor if you are engaged and plan on having a wedding. Elope. Save yourself and your friends the time, frustration, and money. Planning a 100 person wedding was a fucking nightmare. I don’t wish that burden on even my closest enemies. Was my wedding awesome and one of the best days of my life? Yeah sure. But it would have been just as awesome with Karlin and I on a beach in flip flops with beers in our hands. Was my dress the nicest thing I will ever own and wear? DSC_8404Yeah obvi. But now it’s just a big bulky dress that will sit in my closet for all of eternity because I can’t emotionally detach myself from it to sell it. Did all my guests enjoy my wedding? Ya probably. It was a massive party at a mansion. Duh.

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If you choose to have a wedding, just know that you will lose friends. Probably even family members. You will loathe talking about flower arrangements and seating plans and no matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone. Your wedding is not about the bride and groom. Trust me. It is about pleasing every single parent, sibling, bridesmaid, and distant relative you have. You will develop some sort of anxiety and get migraines from the amount of stress you are under. I starting getting ocular migraines where I just randomly would go blind and have a hard time seeing, followed by a brutal migraine headache. Never had those before the wedding! And since the wedding, I haven’t had another!

I spent a year losing weight and getting in shape for the wedding and have gained all that weight back since July because I think my body was just never meant to be 145 pounds. Which leads me to my next point.

2. Stop dieting.

Life is too short to be angry all the time because you haven’t allowed yourself to eat a carb in 6 months. Eat all the cheese. Drink all the wine. Just do it in moderation. Don’t drink a bottle of wine with every meal. Eat some vegetables. Do yoga. Go for walks. Lift heavy things every once in a while. Move around. You’ll be fine. Throughout my yoga training I realized that you don’t have to be a size 0 to feel strong and good about your body. I haven’t counted a calorie since the wedding and yes I gained back the 10 pounds I had lost prior, but I also haven’t gained back anymore. This is my homeostasis and I have accepted it. I can pretty much eat and drink whatever I want (within reason, like I am not an empty pit or anything) and stay this size. Through exercise I can tone and LOOK good, but that has nothing to do with the number on the scale. So this year I learned to just eat mindfully and not be so fucking hard on myself if I have a chubby day or week. It’s just skin. I’m never going to be a size 4 because I have these stupid boney things called hips that seriously get in the way. I also have a different kind of life. Yes I still follow my favorite instagram models and fitness gurus, but I am now hyper aware that we have different priorities and they will never be in sync. I have been following one girl and after a year of reading her posts I have decided that she probably has an eating disorder. She shames herself for eating what I would deem regular food. She posts pictures of her abs and says “so huge today” and I am like um what? If you are huge, then I am a walrus. She posted the other day that she had a cheat meal that consisted of one small turkey burger, a Cesar salad, and one alcoholic beverage (which I can only assume was some skinny girl wine with 20 calories and no taste) and then the next day spent 2 hours in the gym working it off. All the power to you, girl, but I’d rather not spend my time obsessing over everything I put in my mouth. I am alright with not having a 6 pack. I don’t walk around town with my shirt off anyways. Nor do I see people and wonder if they have 6 packs under their shirts. It’s just not something I am going to worry about. Eat mindfully. Eat vegetables every day. Move your body. You’ll be fine.

3. Make shit happen. 

I waited 2 years for something to happen to me in Fruitvale. I waited for friends to trickle in. I waited for the perfect job to find me. I waited for something to happen that would give me direction. Here’s what I discovered. Nothing will find you. You have to go out and find it. If that means trying 1 million new things, then do it. I was sick of not finding a job here so I made my own. I worked my ass off and got what I wanted. Someone didn’t just mail me a teaching certificate. Nobody is building my dream studio for me (well Karlin is but he’s like a strong extension of me :P). You need to go out and look for things. I am struggling with the saying “Everything happens for a reason”. It sounds so mystical like someone else is in control of what happens to you. “A reason” is not chance. The reason is you made it happen. I didn’t meet Karlin by chance. I went looking for him. I didn’t move to Fruitvale by fate. I chose to move here.

If you are waiting around for something good to happen, you will wait your whole life. If you want something, go get it. Make a plan. Follow through. Do shit. It doesn’t have to be epic. Just do shit. 

4. Don’t wash your hair so much. 

Ya  I’m a greaser. Deal with it. Don’t waste your time on hair man. Save hair washes for days you are seeing people you care about. When I lived in Calgary I couldn’t go grocery shopping without some form of a hair style and makeup. It took a lot of time. Become one with your naked face. Drink water all day. You will look fine. Nobody will be like “omg she didn’t have her eyebrows on fleek when I saw her buying toilet paper at Walmart today”. Washing your hair takes a lot of time and effort if you have long hair so I have just stopped making it a priority. Ain’t nobody got time for a 15 minute blow dry. Wash once or twice a week. Your hair will be healthier and the world won’t end. Just don’t be smelly. You got time for a shower.

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5. Buy a big ugly phone protector case. 

Ya having a sassy phone case is fun and awesome. But you know what’s not awesome?

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Buying a new iPhone 6 screen.

6. Take breaths, not Ativan. 

Alright there are certain moments in life where I look back and am like Thank fuck for vitamin A. But this year I have learned to breathe again. I don’t want to sound like a hippie freak. It really works though. I cannot control when I have anxiety but I have learned that my breathing has a lot to do with it. Focus on your breath for as long as you can pay attention. Count how many seconds you inhale and count how many seconds you exhale. You will calm the fuck down. Your breath is your only ally. It is always with you no matter what, unless you’re like.. dead. So use it. You can’t breathe in the past. You can’t breathe in the future. You can only breathe in the present moment. So when you’re freaking out, just stop what you’re doing and reconnect with literally the only thing that is with you all the time. You can relax your nervous system with just your breathe. It is a real thing. Your body knows what to do. Breathe loud too. Take loud annoying breathes. Be a mouth breather. K maybe do it somewhere a little more private than like in a room full of people. Just try it before you resort to meds. And if you really can’t calm the fuck down, then have at er. But I promise 99% of the time you won’t need it after a few minutes of deep breaths. I always heard that I should do this but thought it was dumb mystical bullshit. It’s physiology. I can get behind science any day of the week!  (JUST NOT MATH. FUCK YOU MATH)

7. Recycle and walk places.

I have witnessed some crazy shifting weather in the last year. Forest fires ravaged our province this summer. It was 14 degrees and the grass was growing at my moms farm on Christmas where normally there was 6 feet of snow. There has been horrible natural disasters all over the world and it’s become more obvious this year than ever before that we are all fucked. So start recycling. Drive less. Use reusable bags. Do something to reduce your footprint because it’s only going to get worse. The storms are going to get bigger. This year I am going to make a bigger effort to do my part and you should too. Plant a garden. Grow some shit. Carpool. Get your parents on board. end rant.

 

These are just a few things I wanted to share. Hope everyone has learned some lessons this year. Feel free to share. Have a good New Years!