Despite the number of years I’ve been practicing yoga asana, meditation was something I resisted for a long time. Matt, my boyfriend, got pretty into it early on in our relationship (maybe even before we started dating) and regularly did lots of guided meditations and relaxations he found on YouTube. He was constantly inviting me to join him, and I did occasionally, but it took me a long time to warm up to the practice for myself.
Now, here’s where I’m gonna get vulnerable with y’all…
At the time, meditation came off to me as a “bro” thing. Which is kind of weird, right? But that’s honestly how I felt about it. I was hearing all these people (mostly men) say how important meditation was for improving performance and focus. There was so much emphasis on productivity, business, and being a boss that it came off to me as very macho. It seemed like something the male entrepreneurs on all the podcasts I was listening to (The Tim Ferriss Show, Smart Passive Income, etc.) were doing just to check the mindfulness box. Like they’d heard that if you want to be successful, that’s how you start your day—in meditation.
What was probably meant to be inspiring, didn’t feel authentic to me.
But the fact that I felt this way about it—that I was so bogged down in judgmental thoughts and SO resistant to trying it—was probably (okay, definitely) a sign that it was actually what I really needed. It’s funny how those thoughts and feelings we resist the most that end up teaching us the biggest lessons in the long run…
There’s certainly a lot to unpack around why I felt so judgmental toward that subculture of people I saw meditating on a regular basis. Perhaps I was envious of what they had found in meditation and on a subconscious level, didn’t believe I was worthy of that same abundance. Maybe I was afraid of sitting still and just being. When you slow down, stop moving and turn inward, what you encounter there can be hard. Painful.
Probably, it was both of those things and more. I’m still figuring it out and thinking through it, but I wanted to be honest about my misgivings toward the practice and how far I’ve come since then.
I look back at the way I scoffed at meditation years ago and can feel compassion for the old me. I was hurting and incredibly self-conscious. Why else would I have put others down? I rolled my eyes at people who were being vulnerable, opening themselves up to something new and transformative, because I didn’t yet have the courage to go there myself.
I now understand that my resistance and judgments around meditation had nothing to do with anyone else, and everything to do with me.
So, what changed my mind and got me started meditating?
I finally decided to give it a try in early 2018, a little over a year ago from when this post was written. Around that time, I was really struggling mentally and emotionally and was willing to try pretty much anything I thought might help me feel better. I needed a better approach to managing the anxiety and feelings of constant overwhelm I was experiencing and despite my reservations (that were really just fears in disguise), I knew that meditation was a tried-and-true tool for LOTS of different people.
Over the holidays the year prior, a friend recommended Headspace to me, sharing how much the guided meditations had been helping her find some inner calm during a really stressful season of life. I’d heard of Headspace before and had done a few sessions with Matt before, but that was the push I needed to try it for myself. I downloaded the free trial and as soon as it ran out, signed up for the annual subscription.
I’m being 100% honest when I say it really only took one session for me to understand what all the hype around meditation was about.
One of my proudest accomplishments from 2018 is the meditation streak I hit at the beginning of the year. I have the exact number written down somewhere, but I think I meditated something like everyday for two months straight? Maybe longer?
I realize, of course, that keeping track of “streaks” and measuring how often and how long you meditate is really not the point. In fact, that’s the kind of behavior I was rolling my eyes at before… but holding myself accountable to do it everyday really, really helped me not only build a new habit, but wildly improve my overall mental health and wellbeing. These things take time and discipline to sink into the body and mind. It might not be what works best for you, but scheduling and tracking my daily sessions in my planner just happened to be what worked best for me.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where I’ll go into more detail about how I built the habit, what my meditation practice looks like now, and how yoga teacher training completely changed my life in terms of meditation and pranayama (breath control).
In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about trying out meditation for the first time but are experiencing some form of resistance, I hope this post shows you that you’re not alone! Resistance is perfectly normal and completely okay. Give yourself time and trust that if you have the desire to find meditation, it will find you when you’re ready.
If you have questions about meditation, let me know! I’m not an expert but I’m always happy to try and help or just talk through it with you.