Simplify Your Life Month, Day 6: Be Present

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I have a confession to make.

I hate meditating.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate what it can do, and I know HOW to meditate. When I have regularly practiced it in the past, it has benefited me. My sister once said

You’re a much nicer person when you meditate.

No kidding.

I am not a mean person by any measure, but I do tend to get a little high-strung, if you will. So in my life, I have tried to meditate.

I have books, apps, and audio recordings. I’ve been to classes.

But I haven’t practiced in a long time. My therapist even lent me a book called 8 Minute Meditation, which I didn’t even do. 8 minutes. I waste 8 minutes (times 10 or so) on social media every day.

Being present doesn’t mean meditating all day. It means to be in the moment of whatever you are doing, connected with your senses and experience, and not caught up in judgement or distractions. Like improving your posture, being present improves with regular practice.

For day 6 and the rest of Simplify Your Life Month, I’m going to spend 8 of my social media minutes on meditation because I am an adult and I care about myself. Maybe I can learn that I don’t really hate meditation after all.

And that means I will be adding meditation to my daily routine.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has been around for thousands of years, and put under the microscope of modern science only recently (like, 50 years).

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) refers specifically to a program of practices designed to help people cope with pain and other tricky medical conditions. It has been touted to improve both psychiatric and physical health, as well as general well-being.

However, there is some criticism about the state of the research about mindfulness meditation and MBSR, which mainly boils down to the difficulty of studying an un-standardized practice among a wide-variety of people.

Perhaps it is knowing about this criticism of mindfulness exercises that keeps me at arm’s length now. However, I can’t argue with my own experience.

Mindfulness meditation has absolutely helped me be “nice,” so with that in mind, I will embark on the rest of the month.

An Extremely Curated List of Resources for Mindfulness and Meditation

8 Minute Meditation. Have I read this whole thing? Nope. Describes a simple, 8-week structure for learning mindfulness meditation. Each week presents a different focus for the 8 minutes that you are going to meditate each day.

Full Catastrophe Living. I had this book for 2 years before I read it. A solid, comprehensive guide through the mother of all mindfulness based stress reduction programs. If you want to go through the program guided by a live teacher, I can recommend Dr. Chris Chroniak’s regular 8-week course in Chicago.

MBSR Every Day. Easily-digestible ideas for applying mindfulness-based stress reduction tactics. The authors think that informal practice prepares you for a formal meditation practice, so the instruction in formal mediation is in Part 4. There’s a “troubleshooting” guide of sorts for dealing with 5 common issues that come up during meditation, which is nice, because my brain can’t stop working on my grocery list.

Insight Timer app. A cornucopia of guided meditations as well as a simple timer. A special shout-out to Jennifer Piercy because she’s got the world’s best guided meditation to help you fall asleep.

If you’re struggling with mental health, please know that mindfulness practices are not a substitute for proper health care. Neither is this blog. If you need some help, NAMI can point you in the right direction, and they even have a number you can text for support.

I made the bed today.

Bed-making update: it works! Every day I have made the bed, I have inexplicably done another chore right afterward.

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