This weekend I finished Dan Harris’s book “10% Happier” and started meditating. Actually, I started meditating last week, but skipped a day here and there, so I’m on day 4. Baby steps. So far, so good though, and I intend to make meditation a daily practice. For now, I’m using the OMG I can meditate app (recommended by Gwyneth herself. Yeah, I know…) and find it really pleasant and easy.
Just in case you don’t know me at all, it’s really hard for me to do something in a way that I perceive isn’t the “right” way, or the way it was “meant” to be done. For example, I always thought that to meditate, you had to sit on the floor with your legs crossed in complete silence, and be really uncomfortable for 20 minutes or however long it took to shut the voices in your head up. I thought that was the “right” way to meditate – the “proper” way. So I tried it, and failed miserably (silence had never felt so loud!), then gave up altogether and thought I’d never be able to meditate. Ever.
As it turns out, Dan Harris is/was a lot like me, and as I got further into the book where he recounted his experiences with meditation in the beginning, and his initial skepticism after reading Tolle, Chopra, et al, I realized that I probably ought to try again. I wanted to try again. And like I said, so far so good.
I’m a long way from enlightenment, if there is such a thing, and throughout most of my meditation I’m swatting away ridiculous or egotistic thoughts, trying to re-focus on my breath (sometimes still failing) but I know now that meditation is a habit, not an innate talent. And practice makes perfect, leading to all sorts of benefits over time.
Why am I mentioning this? Mostly because I wanted to share, to suggest that if you’re like me, and you thought you could never do it – never get the voices in your head to be a little quieter, just for 10 minutes – maybe it’s worth it to try again? I might not have tried again if I hadn’t found someone I could relate to on some level; someone who is at least as skeptical as I am, and as unsure of his own abilities.
Which brings me to relate-ability. I understand the power of it now, more acutely. For years, and most recently since I launched my Minimal Closet series and started taking a harder look at the emotional issues behind why I shop/buy, we have been relating to each other, here on Grechen’s Closet. I write about my journey and you say “I do that too!” And sometimes that’s all it takes to create a shift. A small one, maybe, but knowing that there’s someone else out there who shares your fears and struggles, and who is trying to overcome them somehow, is a powerful motivator.
“I am not alone” is such a simple mantra, but one that takes a lot of effort to believe if we’re not lucky enough to have found a community or at least one person who we can relate to. I know how hard that is. So once again, thank you. I am indebted to you for choosing to read what I have to say every day, and then even more when you take the time to leave a bit of yourself in response.
You are not alone.
Thank you. This book has been on my to-read list before but I’ve never got around to it. I’ve moved up to the top of my library queue now. This morning I was walking and my mind would not stop turning over what I was going to take for lunch today, whether or not I was going to have breakfast, what I was going to wear today, when and how my husband is going to pick up our son for their dentist appointments, and on and on.
A little internal silence sounds delightful. 🙂
We all need this. I need some serious accountability for meditating, I recently kept it up for a few weeks but stopped as soon as I went on vacation 🙁
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Grechen Reiter says
hope you get it soon! i lucked out and it was immediately available via my library (which never happens…), so i moved some things around so i could get it ASAP. most of all, i just liked how down-to-earth it was, and how much i felt like i could relate to him. he’s over-analytical like me (reading everything he could FIRST, before doing anything, and asking LOTS of questions!) and struggled through a lot of it, which made me feel much more hopeful about finding some sort of meditation/mindfulness practice that will stick for ME.
i can’t promise internal silence, but i can say that it has helped me to recognize when my “monkey mind” is taking over so that i’m calmly able to push the thoughts away and focus on the now, on my breath, or whatever it is that i need to be focused on in the moment instead of being consumed by all the “noise.” still a lot of work to do, but i know i will get there 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
it’s so hard to get in the practice of doing it every day. i haven’t figured out the right time yet, sometimes it’s in the afternoon, or evening before i go upstairs to bed. but mostly i just do it when i know my mind would benefit from it, and i think that’s okay. as long as i strive for doing it once a day. which i’ll admit has been tough also. but baby steps 🙂
Genevieve Roja says
This post is EXACTLY why you are one of my daily blog reads. Yes there is much talk about clothes, but I really dig the conscientious ahd conscious vibe of Grechen’s Closet. I have a demanding job as an event planner (I do mostly weddings!) and there are a lot of moments and months of stress. Meditation has always been my daily goal, but alas, it can so easily fall by the wayside. Then a post like this comes up and reminds me again to pick up where I left off. The act of meditating, and more importantly the act of taking the TIME to meditate means I am taking care of me in those precious minutes. Not my sometimes needy clients. Not my crammed-full email Inbox. Me.
I think I remember NPR doing a story on this guy. Pretty sure he had an on-air panic attack while he was delivering the evening news & it really messed with him enough to look for alternatives to handling stress. I sit thru the mediation bit at yoga class & even when I do yoga at home on the console. At first I couldn’t stand the whole sit there & breath thing whilst folded in a most uncomfy way, that was until a trippy yoga teacher told us all to sit, stand or lay about any old way that we wanted & that – that did it man! Still, I can’t mediate without it beng tied to finishing up with yoga, otherwise I get bored in a nano second with it.
Grechen Reiter says
yes, that’s the guy. i might have heard the same story – maybe it was fresh air? – and that was how the book ended up in my library queue…
we did “meditation” a little when i did bikram yoga, but i never really took it seriously. anyway, i was too freaking hot and tired to focus on anything at all.
isn’t it funny though, how when we’re given permission to just do what comes naturally to us, everything seems to fall into place? i’ve noticed that that’s what tends to do it for me….and that trip yoga teacher was right 🙂 you have to just go with what’s comfortable and effective for YOU.
Grechen Reiter says
thank you genevieve 🙂
i can’t even imagine how stressful your job must be! i couldn’t even plan my own wedding LOL
what helps me now, is to remember that i can just start wherever i am. no matter if i forgot a day, or a week, i CAN pick up where i left off. the old me would have just given up, or used the fact that i hadn’t done it in a while as an excuse to quit. i did that all the time with exercise, eating right, etc., etc…now that i’m better at forgiving myself, and sticking to healthy routines, i just brush off, and start back again as soon as i can.
Hi Grechen – thanks for sharing so candidly. I read Dan Harris’ book earlier this spring. A lot of what you (and he) describes sure resonates with me.
May I make a suggestion. I was lucky enough to attend a writing and meditation workshop in Portland taught by Susan Piver (wonderful writer and can’t recommend her books highly enough, especially “How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life”) – she runs an amazing project called the Open Heart Project. susanpiver.com
There are three levels of commitment or engagement- the first is free and is just an amazing resource for anyone interested in meditation – 1 10 minute guided meditation video every week; a blog subscription and guest lectures/discussions.
I can’t recommend Susan and her work highly enough – examples of recent meditation videos are “Keep it simple, sweethearts”, and Discovering Your True Home” – I can’t wait until I can take her meditation/writing workshop in France, and in the meantime,
I’d love to hear what you (and others) think of her meditation practice videos, and the (I think) wonderful work she is sharing.
I’d love to hear more of your thoughts as you continue your meditation.
Thank you for another thoughtful post. I appreciate that you bring such a balance to your blog, and are so candid about the process. Kudos to you if you can get your hands around this meditation business — lord knows I am unable to!
Grechen Reiter says
thank you, thank you!! will look her up ASAP, absolutely value your recommendation – she sounds wonderful.
I’ll definitely write more about my experiences going forward, for example, i wouldn’t recommend trying to meditate after more than a glass of wine 😉 SO MUCH HARDER! although i did discover that i’m much more creative and “aware” after 15 minutes of meditation. no matter if i was “successful” at swatting thoughts away or not.
I completely second the comment about this is why I read your blog! You are balanced and thoughtful and I can’t wait to read the book (because I have also tried meditation in the past and it’s never stuck). Thanks for a great post. Beth
You’re so special. Bless you, dear Grechen. <3
Brush it off–it’s one of my hardest challenges, in life and work. I tend to dwell on things and let things sting longer than they should. I’m working on it! And hopefully meditation can get me to a point where I can shake it off with not a care. Thank you again for this post!