When I completed my first-ever 40 Day Meditation Challenge, I realize now that I was both cocky and naive. Also, wrong. Even after 40 Days of consecutive meditation and no misses/restarts, I apparently did not form a habit that I would continue each and every day (or hardly any days that were not titled “Challenge”). Nope. Since completion a month ago, I have meditated maybe only a handful of times, and to be honest, I can feel the impact of the backslide.
For one, my sleep is worse than it was when I was in the midst of my challenge. Because I am not taking time to focus/clear my mind during the day, it is doing so on its own at night when I try to go to bed or when I’m attempting to go back to bed after Trumy’s whenever-the-heck-he-feels-like it feeding in the early morning hours. As in, all over the place, monkey mind racing and messing up my much needed rest.
For another, I find my emotional balance struggling at times, too. As you may remember, the mantra approach I used during my 40 Days was often geared at reminding myself of what I actually was when my mind was trying to tell me otherwise (grounded, not adrift; enough, not lacking; etc.).But since I’ve quit giving myself those daily affirmations/reminders, the doubts and fears are slowly creeping back in to the regular tape which is both annoying and frustrating.
Such is the human experience, though, eh? It is in our nature to make progress and regress and then grow again. That’s how life works. And meditation is something I definitely desire to have in my life because clearly it brings great benefit to my body and my mind which then impacts how I am with my family, friends, and everyone else I see during any given day. So I keep attempting (and may have to instate another challenge to make sure my stubborn ego makes me show up for the task each day), and it was on one of those very tries that I stumbled upon what I think is a very accessible, very universal, and very positive meditation technique.
I want to share it with you in hopes that you can try it too, maybe today, maybe on a Monkey Mind day, or maybe every day.
I call it the “I am Loved” Meditation and it is paired with a visualization technique.The approach itself is quite simple.
Find a comfortable seat in a semi-quiet place, if you can. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders away from your ears. From there, bring your focus to your breath. Follow each inhale and exhale by naming them for what they are for several rounds of breath. Then, begin to say to yourself (not out loud) “I am…” with each inhale and “Loved” with each exhale. The visualization comes with the exhale. For each and every single round that you do (i.e. for as many rounds of breath that you possibly can), picture the face/say the name of someone in your life who loves you.
Start with your family. Think of your friends. Think of people who count on you or see you on a regular basis and always have a smile for you. Think of people from your past. Think of your teachers, your coaches, and all those who have learned from you. Let yourself get lost in the breath and the picturing, filling your body with intentional breath and your heart with great love. Trust me, when you open yourself to this, the length of the list may just surprise you.
It is so easy when our minds get swirly to feel upset, scared, and most of all, isolated. But this is, again, part of the human experience. Everyone has moments of doubt; for some of us, those moments just last longer than they do for others. There is no shame in feeling this way. But rather than wallow in it, acknowledge the heaviness and then use the combination of your breath and the images of your peoples’ faces to remind yourself that you are not alone; you are not forgotten. You are vital. You are connected. You are LOVED.
The day I first tried this, my mind was all over the place. I felt in the way and pulled in too many directions. I was not enough and therefore unwanted. But you know what my heart said to that? Bullshit. My heart may have once been a sailor; who knows. But once I started the “I am Loved” meditation, I saw pretty quickly just how right my heart was and how much my mind needed to be put in its place.
So I hope this helps – if not today because today is not a day you need it, then someday when you do. You are LOVED.