Megan and I have been friends for a long time now. A couple months ago when I was talking about meditation and mindfulness I got a lot of questions about how to start, where to start and what to do and Megan is the perfect person to ask.
Megan previously owned a yoga studio in Mesquite, NV and I loved making the trek down the gorge to her classes because she is so good. Megan has been teaching yoga, meditation and mindfulness for 5 years now. Her love began with her mom, who is a yoga teacher as well. She has a passion for mindfulness and meditation and she loves to incorporate it into every area of her life that she can.
Megan also recently started a podcast called “Getting Mindful with Megan.” Check it out!
So Megan, what is meditation?
There’s a lot of different types of mediation. For some it’s clearing your mind of any thoughts and just creating space in your mind for you to be able to open up and listen to yourself, the universe or God. Just becoming aware of your thoughts and making space for your thoughts is another kind of mediation.
For me it’s really just opening up the doors and creating space and being aware to see and create what you want to create in your life.
It’s being quiet and observing and becoming in tune with yourself.
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So what is the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Mindfulness is becoming aware.It’s why I’m thinking what I’m thinking or doing what I’m doing. Why is what is happening in my brain happening and what is it creating for me?
Meditating sounds nice, but will it really be that helpful in my life?
I started my meditation journey because I was suffering from anxiety. It helped me so much. Meditation and mindfulness get you into the present moment, anxiety is worry about the future. Meditation works by getting me into the present. When I can just focus on my breath, that’s when I can let go of the stress and worry of life.
You have to create this space in meditation to get quiet so you can become aware. And it gets better as you become more aware. You being to realize “I’m feeling anxious because I’m choosing this thought.” I love mindfulness because you can start to see where the disconnects are and once you see the disconnects you can really start to create the life and the feelings and the space that you want to create.
I recently was working through this in therapy because I’m a worrier and a planner. I need to have a plan and I need to think it all through, which can create anxiety and just take joy from my life.
My therapist had to tell me my new motto is “we will get there when we get there.” and I had to start living in 3 hour increments and finding joy in each 3 hour increment. Living mindfully like this has quickly changed my life. Redirecting my thoughts on purpose like this along with meditation has helped me find peace in my life.
Anxiety is actually a compounded emotion. Often times we’re just worried and we call it anxiety, but real anxiety is that tightness in your chest, compounding, spiraling out of control emotion.
We have circumstances in our life that we cannot control. We can’t control things like what people say to us or the weather. Circumstances lead to us having thoughts. Our thoughts are opinions that we make around a circumstance. The circumstance is fact, it can’t be negotiated. But our thoughts are our opinion and we put our opinions around all of our circumstances. Our thoughts bring a feeling.
For example, it’s 40 degrees outside, but we think “oh no, I’m not going to get anything done outside today” which then adds stress and then we act stressed and the results are not getting anything done and being a bad day.
Often I feel the anxiety first. I feel the worry in my chest and I name it and I say “Hi anxiety, I see you. You’re here. And it’s ok that you’re here. Do what you need to do.” I don’t try to resist it, anxiety happens because you’re resisting fear or worry. My favorite mantra in this moment is “these feelings come and go” because when you start to say that all of a sudden it releases. The fear that this is never going to stop, or I can’t live with anxiety dissipates. And then once I feel peace, I ask “what was the thought that triggered the worry?” Then I say “I get to choose my thoughts.”
Anxiety is hard because sometimes it gets to a point where you need medication and that’s why doing this type of thought work can be so helpful because it helps reveal how well you can work through things on your own or if you do need help.
Our brain has neuro pathways and the more we use that pathway the more it seems like a fact. For example, if you have been told or told yourself “I don’t look good in yellow” your entire life, you will continue to believe that and continue to strengthen that pathway in your mind as you try on yellow and continue to believe you don’t look good in it. Changing that thought can be difficult.
Imagine those neuro pathways as paths in a tall grassy field. You have the path that is already cut out and when you switch your path, it’s like you’re going right through the grass. Your brain will fight you to stay on the original path.
So for me, finding space and enough quiet time to observe “what are the thoughts I’m having?” helps me answer the question “what are they causing or creating or what feeling am I creating?” I’ve always loved the quote “As a man thinketh, he will become.” What you think creates feelings that create actions and that creates your result.
I think that we get in these ruts because our world is so distracting. We don’t have much space or quiet time any more. Just like your body loves going to the gym, your mind needs a workout too. Meditation is going to help heal your mind, your spirit and help heal your life.
So do I just sit quietly? How do I get started meditating?
The number one thing to do is make it easy for yourself. My yoga mat is right next to my bed, along with some of my favorite essential oils, my journal and a favorite candle. I love writing in my journal right after I meditate because it’s important to remember any thoughts or feelings that you had. You have to create the space.
Remove the distractions. Turn off your phone. Get up before your kids or after they leave for school.
The other thing I want to mention is you’re going to need mindfulness when you can’t be in your safe, created space. It’s important to work though it as it happens.
It is really important to set up a space with a time of day in mind. In hindu, the hours of 3-6 AM are recommended for meditation.
The next thing with getting started, is to find some good guided meditations. These meditations help you rewire those neuro pathways, by using affirmations like “I accept myself” “I feel free” and all of a sudden you’re starting to believe those thoughts which brings a lot of peace.
I loved my birth affirmations and hung them on my wall. Even as I labored with my eyes closed, each one of those affirmations floated into my mind. So even though I wasn’t looking at them, they were there. It’s the same with guided meditation – you can use these affirmations as needed throughout the day as situations arise.
I love this quote: “those times when you feel like you need to escape is the times when you need to go in.” I think it’s important to recognize that‘s the time to meditate and go inward. All of a sudden you’ll realize how much power you have to change the way you feel. It’s really wonderful and empowering to realize that.
I had a rough phone call earlier today with my insurance and I got in the car to go pick up my kids and I was carrying that sad feeling and letting it loop in my mind. I observed my thoughts, I let the feelings of frustration and sadness wash through, I was sad, it’s ok that I’m sad for a minute and then I was ready to transition to picking my kids up from school. So I walked through my thoughts and let the sadness go because they’re nothing I can do about it and I don’t’ need to let the sadness linger. Having this awareness because I’m making an effort to be mindful changes your life! I could have stayed in that feeling all day but I didn’t because I chose not to.
That’s why I love yoga. It’s a physical awareness first. We call it a yoga practice on purpose – it’s practice for life! It’s a practice of noticing and being aware of every part of your body just like mindfulness is being aware of your mind. It’s so many life lessons.
Let’s talk actionable steps. What can I do to get started moving in the right direction?
The first thing I would do is start working on writing in a journal. Start getting comfortable with your thoughts. A lot of us suppress our thoughts, and don’t even realize that they’re there. I’m a spiritual human and I love to write out my prayers. I love to get my thoughts out of my brain where I can see them.
The second thing I would do is start creating affirmations for your day. Normally an affirmation is I _________ this. “I take care of my body” we always bring it into the present moment. I think we can take it a step further and add evidence to it. “Because of ___________ I do this. “Because I love my body, I eat whole foods.” It’s easy to say “I have a million dollars” as an affirmation, but with doing it this way, it gives you something actionable. “Because I do thoughtwork, and I take care of my brain, I know I can make a million dollars.” All of a sudden it becomes achievable. I love giving your brain the evidence so that it can believe this.
“Because I love myself, I know I am enough”. What is a piece of evidence that you can use in your affirmations?
You can set alarms on your phone with your affirmations, you can record yourself saying them, you can repeat them every day at a certain time.
Third, moving your body helps move your mind. Do a yoga class, go for a walk, try to do something before meditation.
Find guided meditations you like. Start with short ones. 2 minutes is better than no minutes. 10 minutes is such a good place to start, it’s long enough to learn how to work through fidgeting but not so long it’s hard.
I think people believe that meditation is always going to be easy or fun, but sometimes it’s not. It’s like exercise, there’s going to be good days and bad. I have to talk myself into it sometimes because I know the results. Keep going, just keep doing it. Get comfortable with your thoughts.
One of my favorite parts of yoga is acceptance. I really believe that once we learn to accept ourselves and accept our thoughts exactly where they are, that’s when the transitioning and the cleansing comes.
Even cold showers can be a fantastic way to meditate. They really force you within yourself.
What menstrual products do you use?
I love my thinx! I hate everything else. They’re really great for me.
Megan, where can we find you?