“Meditation is one conscious breath.”-Jasmine Wilborne, Anna Hope Coaching
In 2013, a cute Okcupid guy taught me how to meditate.
He did, however, type this sentence.
I think the words wouldn’t of had such an impact on me if I wasn’t looking to lock down a virtual human for a real in-person romance. But as any online dater knows, the possibility of an in-person meeting hinges on the chemistry in those initial chats. And this guy was checking all of the necessary boxes. He was funny, flirtatious and with this Buddha-like one liner, wise. That evening I was buoyed with hope and expectant for a second day of engaging conversation, only in the morning to find that he had vanished.
User not found.
While the possibility of an online romance fizzled within hours, the impact of those 5 words didn’t.
Before chatting with the hottie that got away, I had no idea what meditation was. I couldn’t tell you what monks in Tibet did on their cushions. I had no clue.
But now, I understood, that meditation was the act of consciously observing the feeling of my body breathing. That was it! It was not suppression of thought or something I had to prepare for.
I could meditate anytime I wanted. Meditation was only one observed breath away.
I didn’t become a yogi right after that and I’m not one now! But meditation sure has changed my life.
In fact, I never thought that I would have a “meditation practice” and it’s only because of COVID-19 that I can say that I do. Prior to that I only practiced what I call the “younger sister version” of meditation, or mindfulness. Mindfulness, in my own words, is the act of bringing the minds’ attention to the feeling of the body now and the happenings of the now.
For instance, before practicing mindfulness I would be physically driving to work, but mentally I was re-living an amazing hike or daydreaming about what I would do when I clocked out. Now, as I practice mindfulness, I focus on the sounds of my car as it cuts across town and the feeling of my body breathing. I try to anchor my minds’ attention on what is happening now, not the unwritten and unpredictable future.
Practicing mindfulness and sitting meditation has changed, and will continue to change, my life in both subtle and dramatic ways. Simply, it’s given me the covetous power to understand how my thoughts create emotional responses within my body which directly impact my thoughts, words and deeds.
For instance, prior to becoming mindful, I thought an endless slew of negative thoughts like:
“I’m going to end up poor.”
“I need to get out of this job. What am I doing with my life?”
“I’ll never find a loving and committed partner.”
And more recently, “Look at all these therapists already practicing. What makes me think that if I become a therapist I’ll be able to make money? The competition is steep! You’ll waste your money on a worthless degree and end up poor.”
I’m not joking about this last one. I just thought this three weeks ago! And because of this one thought and the emotion of fear it evoked, I completely changed course in my thinking and decided that I would become a CNA instead of a therapist. I even identified a program, filled out the application and PAID! I spent $125 in one day! That was an expensive thought to think.*Face palm * I can’t make this stuff up!
Prior to practicing meditation and mindfulness I would never have known the real impact of these thoughts, but then I began to take one conscious breath at a time. Which really just means I trained my mind to notice the absence of thought in the feeling of my body breathing, and to realize that I did not have to react to or believe every thought that entered my mind. I began to notice these negative thoughts and realize that 1. They were not true and 2. They were dictating my actions and emotions.
Slowly, but surely I began to become aware of the unexamined thoughts and philosophies I had. One by one I began asking myself “Is this thought true?” if the answer was “no” I would discard the thought and introduce a new thought that I did want to think. Slowly, I realized that the more I was aware of my thoughts the more I could control them and use them to my benefit. Instead of having my mind be a mean heckler at a basketball game as I crouched to make the game winning shot, my mind could become a prized supportive coach giving me a nod of encouragement as my wrist flicked to release the ball.
I did not have to be controlled by the things my mind made up anymore. And it has been the most liberating thing to happen to me.
Because of meditation and mindfulness I’ve been able to:
-Stop emotional eating. I removed 15 pounds of excess weight from my body and have returned to my high school track weight for the last 5 years. I haven’t been in high school for nearly 11 years!
-Not freak out during COVID. I’ve been able to face my feelings of anxiety and fear head on.
– Gracefully navigate my roommate leaving at the start of the pandemic. Not curse out my newest roommate who moved in and moved out within 3 hours. And finally, endured roommate hunting for 3 months (usually it takes 1)
Focusing on the feeling of my body breathing (and recognizing signs of stress in my body) has been the bedrock of my resilience, positivity and joy.
My hope for every person on this planet is that they are able to find the peace, joy and comfort in the feeling of one conscious breath.
Do you have a meditation or mindfulness practice? How has it helped you?