Finding Meditation to Deal with Burn-Out
Yoga and meditation, two practices that I thought were reserved for seniors, hipster moms and hippies. But then again, when I was in my 20s and 30s I thought 40 was really old. Ha! The joke’s on me.
Now, as a woman over 40, I don’t consider myself old and I wish I had been more open-minded of both these mind and body practices years ago.
Meditation, well, this came to me rather recently and out of a need to take of my mental health and wellness. I wanted to find a way to help me cope during my burn-out.
3 Things Meditation Has Taught Me
Lesson #1: Making “me” a priority doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming
For 10 minutes every morning I sit and meditate (or try to meditate as it doesn’t come easy most days). I’ve been doing this for over 200 days straight at the time of writing this post – a personal record!
I used to wake up each morning thinking about all the things that needed to get done that day. I’d be so caught up in the swirl of thoughts and stress that I barely ever noticed when I showered or left the apartment. One minute I was just getting out of bed, next I was at my desk in the office. What happened in between was a blur.
With meditation I’ve made the decision to carve out that time to intentionally slow down. Time to sit, be still and seek to find some sense of calm, clarity, and focus.
This small mindfulness meditation practice has become my morning routine. It’s a self-care practice that I never thought I’d embrace let alone come to rely on as a way to start my day off in a much better way no matter how I’m feeling and particularly when I’m not feeling so great.
Because it’s only a 10 minute meditation practice the time commitment is minimal. It’s way easier than my attempts at committing to regular workouts at the gym (and I never have to worry about sweat ruining my blowout!)
Lesson #2: Meditation doesn’t have to cost a lot unless you want it
Meditation doesn’t have to be an expensive practice.
When I signed up to join a 5k Running clinic with a friend a few years ago, I went all out and bought new outfits! I’m talking a running jacket – water resistant and with a hood, running tights, new sports bras, pretty tank tops (bright colours were a must), socks and of course new running shoes – I ‘needed’ proper running shoes if I was gonna be a runner.
I convinced myself (didn’t need much convincing) that I needed all that stuff. I simply had to look like a runner even though I knew I hated distance running and had zero desire to enter a race once the clinic was over. My personal best would be to actually stick around long enough to finish the clinic! Yet there I was, looking cute in my running outfit, hating every minute of it, and suffering in silence because I had painful shin splints every single time my feet hit the pavement. Let me also mention the hot mess that was my hair from all that sweating! Black women, you know what I’m talking about. Cha-Ching, more money at the hair salon to deal with the aftermath.
Have you ever decided to sign up for a new activity and then gone all out and splurged in new gear – clothes, tech or even fancy smoothies and energy bars cuz that’s part of the experience? I can’t possibly be the only one who does that?!
Meditation can be no cost or low cost
In my head, this is what my ideal meditation might involve. Fancy candles, a really pretty cushion to sit on, all plush and soft to the touch, never mind that my hips would be screaming bloody murder if I even attempted to sit cross-legged for more than a minute (or long enough to take a photo!).
The thought of setting up a nice little meditation corner in my space sounds exciting, plus the photos in the magazine make it look super chic and very zen. Y’all this is really where my headspace would have been before learning my life lessons from meditation.
All style first and foremost and then the substance after.
Learning to meditate for me so far has cost very little. I took the free trial of two apps first and then decided on the subscription to the Headspace app which I’ve used regularly for well over a year and a half now. I could have probably watched some free YouTube videos as well but I really like Headspace.
With my 10 minute morning meditation routine, I don’t need any fancy props our outfits. It’s just me, myself and I, sitting on a chair in my pjs. I’m only required to bring an open mind, curiosity, patience and a real desire to learn from the practice of mediation.
This no-spend or minimal spend approach to my extracurricular activity was a first for me and I love that I don’t have to think about cool gadgets or stylish workout gear.
This isn’t to say that I won’t spend money on a meditation class in future. I do want to participate in a group learning environment and meet new people but I know I can plan to do the and set aside a budget for it and not fall prey to getting this season’s hot new print for yoga pants.
Lesson #3: Meditation is a Judgement-free zone and being kind to yourself is required
Meditation teaches us to have a non-judgemental attitude starting with how we relate to ourselves. Surprisingly, this has been one of the biggest and hardest lesson for me to learn so far.
With mediation I’m leaning to have more compassion for myself by being more aware of the negative self-talk that happens say, when my mind wanders during the mediation or if I have self-doubt about whether I’m doing it right, or if I’m simply not in the mood that day to meditate. It’s about being kind to myself, saying “it’s ok” if it’s not working out today. I can try again tomorrow. I’m trying and that’s a good thing.
Self-love and self-compassion sounds simple and a no-brainer but it doesn’t come easy for a lot of people, myself included. It’s a work in progress but it is one of my favourite lessons from the practice that I go back to regularly when things get hard.
I’ve only provided three lessons here but I find with each daily meditation session I learn something new, even with sessions I repeat. I now appreciate why mediation is a life long journey and why it’s still remains such a powerful self-care practice that’s good for the mind, body and spirit.
P.s. I did finish the 5km running clinic and exceeded my personal best by running in the pouring rain during one class …I will never do that again.