Weeks 1 and 2 – Breathing and Meditation

I told myself when I decided to start my Year of Mindfulness, that I would set myself up for success. If I’m going to stick to it this year, I want to be all in and really do the work. I figured the best way to do that is to set some groundwork and some stepping stones into mindfulness. If I started right away with really deep questions and harder topics, I knew I’d get discouraged and probably not follow through. So it’s important to me to build up to the bigger more meaningful topics.

My focus for weeks 1 and 2 is going straight to the basics with breathing and meditation.

Goals:meditation

  1. To use these two weeks as a grounding point for the rest of the year and to discover (rediscover) this as a tool to come back to when I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  2. To develop a meditation practice – focusing less on what meditation is “supposed to” look like and more on what feels good for me in that moment

Mindfulness in Action:

  1. To meditate every day for the next 2 weeks
  2. To experiment with different types of meditation (guided, silent, walking, sitting) and different resources (apps, other listening devices, nature sounds, books)
  3. To set up a meditation space and time, experimenting with different times of day in different spots to find what feels good
  4. To use breathing as a way of grounding and resetting when I’m upset, anxious, or stressed

(Side note: Week 1 is already over. In the future, I plan on writing a separate post to set up the 2 week period with goals and actions, then “check-in” posts for each of the two weeks. Turns out, I need to have a more strict blogging schedule, or I’ll never get anything written. Live and learn, right?)

inhalecourage_exhalefear_2Week 1 Recap: During this first week, I set aside time for meditating 4 out of the 7 days. Not an awesome record, but I’m working on being gentle with myself as I learn new things. I did, however, focus on my breath A LOT. I found myself using different deep breathing techniques like Ujjayi breathing (yoga breathing, in and out through the nose, making an audible sound in the back of your throat) and the 4-7-8 technique (inhale through the nose to a count of 4, hold the breath to a count of 7, then exhale slowly and audibly through the mouth to a count of 8) when I felt myself getting upset, while driving in the car, or even when I was lying in bed before falling asleep.

What I’ve learned:

  1. Meditating is hard…and sometimes boring. In theory, meditation is easy, just sit still and quiet and let go of your thoughts. Except letting go of your thoughts is sometimes like trying to play Whack-A-Mole – get rid of one and a new one just keeps popping up.
  2. Focusing on the breath is SUPER helpful. It could be that this one is easier for me because of Yoga Teacher Training. In yoga, the breath is crucial to the practice. It’s even one of the 8 limbs of Yoga – Pranayama. Since starting Teacher Training, I find that I’m much more aware of my breath and my ability to use it as a tool. To read more about why the breath is so crucial in yoga, check out this article from MindBodyGreen.
  3. I’m learning that I’m the type of person who needs to step away from intense situations before reacting. If I’m feeling angry or upset about something, I do better if I take a step back and look at the situation from a distance before coming back and talking about it. This helps me to take the emotion of the moment out of it, so I don’t say something I regret or take things the other person is saying personally.

Goals for the next week:inhale

  1. Meditate every day (the first two days of this week have already been a success!)
  2. Set up a meditation space
  3. Experiment more with different types of meditation

What I’m reading/ Resources I’m using:

“Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone”  by Brené Brown – Not necessarily a book on meditation, but it’s her newest release and this seems like the perfect book to kick this year off as I learn more about myself and how to speak my truth.

Stop, Breathe, Think – This is the main meditation app I have used so far. I like it because it has lots of different guided meditations to follow along with based on how you are feeling or what direction you are wanting to take with the meditation.

Wish me luck on Week 2 of My Year of Mindfulness!

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