Of all the benefits of meditation, the one that has surprised me the most and brought the most value to my life is the effects of meditation on time.
I have long been well versed in the many benefits of meditation, and know that it is a daily ritual of just about every high achieving person you hear about these days. Getting it into my daily practice has been a bumpy road, but I have always persevered, knowing that it was an important part of the person I want to be.
Before it became a habit, I had all the excuses for not meditating regularly and some of these may sound familiar to you;
- scattered schedule
- no perfect ‘place’ to do it
- being embarrassed to do it in front of others
- not knowing how to do it "properly"
- too many failed attempts in sticking with it
- not wanting to do it if I couldn’t do it for a specific amount of time
- not having enough time (Ask anyone who meditates regularly and they will tell you that if you think you do not have enough time for meditation, than taking time to meditate is EXACTLY what you need!)
Once meditation became a regular and constant part of my daily routine, it didn't take many days before I felt calmer, my feelings of anxiety decreased, I slept better and felt happier in general. And then the coolest thing happened, one day, as I was calmly going through my busy schedule, I checked the last thing off of my 'to-do' list and realized that I had accomplished all I had set out to do for the day and that the day wasn't even over yet! I mean, this wasn't actually groundbreaking or anything at the time, because we all have those magical days now and then, but when the pattern continued for the rest of the week, it made me stop and take notice.
Shortly after this discovery, the holiday season hit and as many of you can probably attest to, though the holiday season is one of the best times of year, it can also be the worst time for self care and healthy habits. We get so busy that we put those things on hold for a while. During the holidays that feeling of having extra, or even enough time for that matter, seemed to disappear. One could chalk this up to actually BEING busier, with all that goes into family and Christmas and what have you, but during this time, I stepped away from work and school, so technically, I was less busy.
After all of the merriment abated and it was back to real life, I picked up where I left off with my daily rituals and lo and behold, it only took a couple of days before the feeling of having more time returned.
At that point it was as if the skies parted, light shone down upon me and I could hear the singing of angels, my prayers had been answered! As a stay at home mom to 2 toddlers, a wife, a keeper of the home, a student (I am currently working on my second degree) and a business owner, a little extra time is a bit of a big deal.
For so long one of my biggest wishes in life was to have more time. I wanted at least 3 more hours in each the day, to get done all the things I wanted and needed to do. And at least 3 more hours each night, just to feel like I’ve had something close to the proper amount of sleep. I wished for my children to stay each the age they were for at least an extra year. One year of my son being 2 was not enough for me, I wanted it to all last longer. Time moved too quickly and there was never enough of it. Anyone else have this problem? According to social media, the answer is a resounding YES!
Now, I’m not a quantum physicist, but I was fairly sure stretching time wasn't actually something that was possible, yet the results were right there, everyday. So, as is my nature, I started to research. Though I haven't found anything to say that meditation actually adds more time to your day, (which is probably a good thing, as this would wreak havoc on your calendar and schedule, trying to do the math to be sure your at your 9:30 meeting on time now that you're personally running off a 30 hour clock, while all the other suckers are still using 24.)
But there are reasons why I was getting the results I was. It was a perfect storm of the benefits of meditation coming together to give me the illusion of bending time. With daily meditation I became;
These changes made me more productive and had me moving through my day in a peaceful and very present way. At the end of the day, when I lay down in bed and looked back on what I had accomplished, I could remember little moments that otherwise may have been lost in the busy buzzing of my brain before meditation became part of my life. Being able to remember more of the day, made it feel like there was actually more day to remember.
Before regular meditation, I used to go about much of my day on autopilot, missing what was going on around me. I was often guilty of being 3 steps ahead of myself mentally - planning or worrying about what I was doing next. Or sometimes being months or years behind - obsessing over some random embarrassing incident or conversation that had happened ages ago (thank you anxiety!). Try to focus on the task at hand when you're planning tomorrow's rout for running errands or berating yourself for that time you accidentally overshared to you boss and he stared at you blankly before making a beeline for the staff room door.
Living in the 'now', along with having heightened self-awareness helped me in setting more achievable goals, and being extra focused and creative allowed me to blast through my to-do lists. It is fantastic.
This gift of extra time is something I want to share with the world! And if more time or presence are not something you're after, or feel you need to work on, the myriad benefits of meditation have something for everyone. Anchor Dan Harris wrote an entire book on how regular meditation just made his life “10% Happier” overall, and I mean, who can say no to that?
Having trouble getting started? Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:
5 Tips for Successfully Making Meditation a Daily Habit
1. Don’t be too picky about setting.
With two small children at home, my dream of sitting in my little home gym with the lights low, my oil diffuser on and binaural beats playing over the speakers, just wasn’t in the cards. We usually do it in the upstairs living room sitting on the floor or couch.
2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
I’ve heard and read many a tale of the amazing, existential experience people have during meditation and was wondering what the heck I was doing wrong. Most of my meditation was just me repeatedly reminding myself to stop thinking about whatever it was my mind wandered to, and to focus on what I was doing. Finally, a wise friend, who is well versed in meditation and mindfulness told me to relax and not put so much pressure on myself, that there was no “wrong” way to meditate. She was right.
3. Find some methods that work for you and don’t be afraid to switch it up!
Some days I focus on breath, some days it’s a visualization, sometimes I concentrate on chakras, sometimes I chant and sometimes nothing seems to be clicking so I just sit quietly. But I do it in some form every day - and that is key.
4. Some minutes are better than none minutes.
Research shows that benefits of meditation can start with doing as little as 5 minutes a day. When I started, I did 8 minutes (which was all my kids could handle at the time - more on that next) and slowly added a minute or two over time. I’m currently meditating 15 minutes a day, with aspirations to keep slowly adding.
5. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
This was a BIG one for me. With two small kids, I tried for a long time to make time to meditate on my own. My biggest plan was to get up early enough to do it before they awoke, this failed as my son is an early riser and was hard to beat. Even if I did manage to get up before him, I was on edge listening for the baby monitor. Then I tried taking time to meditate after they had gone to sleep. This failed for a few reasons, one, again, the baby monitor, two, evening was time to be with my partner, (whom, due to my own little insecurities, I didn't love meditating in front of) and three, I was just so tired by then that the thought of anything even slightly productive (even if it was relaxing) didn’t hold much appeal.
My earliest memory of thinking about my body size was in the forth grade on one of my first days as a student of a new school. Up until that point, it had never come up.
My friends came in all shapes and sizes and none of us thought much of it. I’m not sure if it was the age we were at, or being a stranger in a new place, but one of the girls in my new class made a comment about how heavy I was and my whole world shifted.
Looking back now, I was by no means the biggest girl in my class, far from it actually, but I was the newest and the shyest. Regardless of what was fact and what wasn’t, things were never the same again. Fast forward through more than 20 years of struggle, which included, among many other things; self-hate, depression, yo-yo diets, binge eating and starvation, until one day, when I found myself in a loving relationship and about to have a baby. Everything changed again.
I began to see more of the whole picture. I remember the way I felt while I watched close family members let their size chip away at their self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. I recalled all the time, thought and energy I had wasted on my obsessive focus on weight. I knew one thing, as I stood with my hand on my 30-some-week, pregnant belly: my children were not going to live like this. Letting the number on the scale, or what you THINK other people think about you, was never going to even be on my kids’ radar.
My husband has a normal, healthy relationship with food and his body. That is what I wanted for my children.
So, I enlisted the help of a counselor and began doing something I do best – research. I would become the role model I wanted for my children.
I did my homework and field tested many strategies. I made a plan, continually reviewed it, and made changes where needed. I started adopting healthy SUSTAINABLE habits and sticking with them. And even more importantly than fixing my physical health, I was working on getting my head right.
No more self-deprecating talk. No more obsession with eating this or not that. No more letting my appearance affect my confidence.
I wanted my children to have all of the time and energy I’ve put into one stupid goal of reaching a magic number on the scale, to be put to much better use. I wanted that for me too.
I look back on all of the things I could have done instead of making myself feel bad over the size written on the tag of my jeans. And I’ve learned that in reality, that number hasn’t even mattered to me. At my fittest and smallest, it was still “never good enough”.
Today, when I look at my 3 year old and 1 year old, I see their perfect little bodies, and their perfect sense of self-worth. I look at my body and see the woman my partner loves and the miraculous body that brought two perfect beings into this world and works hard to care for them each day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still a work in progress, but I no longer look back at pictures of my 13 year old self and sneer in disgust. I don’t say negative things (aloud – I’m still working on my internal self-talk) about myself. I am a work in progress, but already I’ve grown so much.
If my children were to begin today, to emulate my relationship with my body, I wouldn’t be 100% satisfied (there is always room for growth), but I know that I’ve done well so far. Sometimes when I look in the mirror and smile at myself, I can almost imagine the look of surprise on my 20-something-year old face. That girl NEVER smiled in satisfaction or admiration at her reflection, but this one does. And so will my babies.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall.
Does it matter if I’m short or tall?
If I twist and turn and sneer and puff.
Am I telling my children we aren’t good enough?
Self-esteem and body image seem to go hand in hand and all too often I hear people blaming society for the unreasonable expectations that are put on children these days.
Too many princesses with hourglass figures, too many heroes that have chiseled abs and strong jaw lines. We see depictions of perfection with enhanced photos and the folks in movies that have it all. All too often the leading men and women in movies, video games and advertisements don’t really represent the majority of the population.
Where do our children get the first whispers of who fits in where and what is beautiful or acceptable? “Do as I say, not as I do” only goes so far and we really need to lead by example.
As we, at Rosy Window Productions developed “Perfectly Me” to encourage young people to notice how well their bodies worked for them and how everyone is unique and fits just right, I couldn’t help but wonder how many Moms and Dads out there are feeling that way about their own physique.
Please, learn to love yourself, just the way you are! Sure you can aspire to be all that you can be, get some regular exercise, eat properly, maybe adjust your weight a few pounds either way, but do it for health sake. Let your children see that you love your body, that you take time for self-care because you value yourself and that you appreciate the way you are. It is not selfish or egotistical to take time for yourself, children that grow up with parents who look after themselves will be more inclined to do the same.
People come in all different shapes and sizes and if you marvel at how a 200 plus pound person can model bathing suites, the answer is simple, they are not hung up on how others will look at them – great body image – excellent self-esteem.
Imagine if you were hiking on a lovely summer day, you are on a beautiful path going up a slight slope. What if you said to yourself, "wow, my legs are so tired this slope seems like it's getting steeper," and with that thought, there is a low rumble under the earth and a hill pushes up beneath your feet!
Well, now you are faced with a steeper hill, without a pause you think, "holy cow! This is turning into a mountain of a hill," and again a rumple and a shake , you are faced with a mountain. “Oh great!” you say, “every mountain path has a narrow trail, rocks and crevices, I can sure tell what I’m in for!” Sure enough, the path gets treacherous.
Thankfully, this does not happen when hiking and when we embark on a trek, we have the proper gear. Our hiking experience helps us choose safe passage, and if we are going to take a road less traveled we have google maps, or friends that will help us find our way...
This is not the case when navigating some of the “molehills” that we come across in our lives, if we do not use logical thought an automatic, negative re-frame may happen and a much more treacherous mental story is created. This can transforms that molehill into a much more difficult to navigate, mountain.
Remember, you have your gear, your past experiences can guide you and if it’s uncharted territory you do have resources and people to turn to.
Keep the molehills small and enjoy the hike!
Our hats are off to Dr. Harvey Karp! On page 59 of a wonderful book called “The Happiest Toddler on the Block,” Dr. Karp shares a table of “Labels that Hurt – Descriptions that Help,” which depicts the very fundamentals of re-framing. How we can build our children’s self-esteem, just by being aware of the language we are using and what words actually inspire.
He points out that when a child appears to be bossy, they may be destined to leadership. He promotes the idea that most words we use which have negative connotations such as “hyper” can be easily replaced with their positive counter parts such as “energetic or passionate”. A very negative “nosy” is quite an endearing “curious”.
His list continues but instead of posting it here, I challenge you to add a comment of your favourite one word re-frames.
See the comment below to get you started!
Rosy Re-Frame: It’s all in the getting there.
The things we learned from Puppets, who knew? I can recall a stuffed green frog, peddling a bicycle, singing “Moving Right Along, do do do, do do do” and although I don’t remember all of the lyrics, I can remember the “getting there is half the fun” part.
It is kind of funny that in an existence that is essentially made up of a series of journeys, we always seem to be in a hurry to get to the next thing (whatever that may be). We know how important it is to be mindful, be present. You don’t have to stall out your day to be present in a moment, you simply need to take note of the smaller bits –
there were probably 30 or more moths on my front door this morning. Which was kind of cool, as they were sitting, not flapping their furry little selves around my face, the sunrise was gorgeous and so were the two deer I allowed my-self to take note of on the way to work. Curious how the day didn’t change, I still made it to work on time, and went about things the same way I would had I not stopped to count the moths, or notice the deer.
When we are cooped up, travelling along by plane or bus or car, we can fuss and fume and be impatient for the goal, or we can enjoy the scenery, catch up on sleep, reading, laugh and talk, isn’t that valuable time?
Maybe the destination is not what is intended to be the reward, perhaps it is the richness along the way, the fall colours, the smile of a friend or stranger, the time spent with family in a vehicle.
If we think about the ultimate journey that we are all on, it is not the destination we crave, it’s really each moment along the way.
Photo credit @jdmytruk
When I look out the window and see the fall colours beginning to emerge, or catch a glimpse of the V shape of a flock of Canadian Geese headed back south, I get to decide what I let my thoughts wander to. Is it the beauty of the crimsons and golds? The majesty of the Canadian Goose and how fortunate I am to catch a glimpse of the migration? OR is it that any day now I'll be sweeping the snow off of my car and freezing my nu-nu's off, complaining of the cold and dark and ALWAYS exaggerating how long and miserable winter is?
When the idea of our little production company was conceived about 3 years ago, the name Rosy Window was arrived at very purposefully - we all know that it is not healthy to look at the world through rose coloured glasses (that may be a bit naïve) but we can choose to see a rosier world if we look through the right frame.
We are all creatures of habits, this is true of all of our thought processes, so when something happens or when we are going through the day to day, the habit of positive thought or negative thought is very powerful, changing this instantaneous thought process is not as hard as it may appear. Practicing the art of re-framing is a great way to start, aware at first, purposely re-writing those thoughts, until it's no longer a conscious effort at all, it is simply noticing the "glass half full" first as the habitual thought response is positive.
We are beginning our 12 week "Re-Frame Campaign" we would love to hear from you. Can you think of an example of a perfect re-frame? Is there something that you need help re-framing? Send us a picture of your favourite window we would love to include it in our campaign.
From the time you are born, you grow and change. You are not the same person you were yesterday or the day before. Sometimes change happens naturally and sometimes you are striving to change for health or well-being, or to better your situation.
When you falter or you don't make progress as quickly as you think you should (instantly and flawlessly) the abuse begins - the internal brow beating that you are so good at giving yourself. Magnifying your "failure" and denying any sense of accomplishment at all.
Imagine if instead of talking yourself into giving up hope, you could have the same dialogue internally that you would have in supporting your best friend? Kind and considerate words of encouragement. Cheering yourself on as you navigate the journey that is life. Loving. Supporting. Encouraging. Imagine self-talk that lifts you up, carries you forward, and adds fuel to your fire.
Rosy Window Staff