Someone recently asked me, do you brush your teeth everyday? To which I replied yes, of course.
Then they said, well then why don’t you meditate every day? Meditation is like brushing your teeth, it gets the plaque out of your body just like brushing your teeth does for your mouth.
After thinking of meditation in a new wayー as a daily practiceーI wanted to create a routine of meditating but didn’t know where to start.
Then I discovered Kelly Ryan’s free classes through Anchor Meditation based in San Francisco. I used to practice in the beautiful space when I lived in San Francisco, but I hadn’t kept up with my practice consistently.
I would pick up meditation here and there, listen to recorded meditations on an app, and occasionally do Hailey Lott’s meditation, who was the first instructor I took a class from at Anchor. She and I have become friends and have kept in contact and I feel a connected energy to her during her meditations.
Fast forward to January of this year when I started taking Kelly’s classes, and after talking to her and Cristina Paiva, another meditation instructor at Anchor, I was encouraged to partake in Kelly’s 10-day meditation course in early February. I was fortunate to come across this opportunity as it was an easily accessible course that was recorded and included additional resources to supplement the daily meditations.
I have continued to meditate at least once a day and have noticed the difference it has made and continues to make in my life.
The first day the course was introduced with this quote and though I had previously heard of it, it has stuck with me since. These are powerful words in a time when I am trying to love myself more and pay attention to how day-to-day interactions affect me. Remembering that in every given moment when my heart might be racing or my heart rate changes in some capacity, that I have the power to better control my breath.
Kelly offered such valuable insight and I wanted to take the time to share some of her advice:
Beginning with some insight on the breath,
The breath is the only organ that we can control.
So consider, how are you breathing today?
The breath = the anchor to the present moment.
We enter this world on our in breath and leave on an off breath.
To breathe consciously is an effort to release tension that’s built up.
Your thoughts create your reality , how do you consciously use your thoughts to create your reality?”
She continued, “When thoughts creep into your awareness allow them to pass by like something floating down a river.” Don’t try to jump in and fight the current.
I love being in nature and find so much peace and contentment from being close to a river, but just like being physically present near a body of water activity can shift the mind, imagining this space in your mind can similarly calm one’s heart and mind. . It only takes a moment to shift your thoughts and reset the mind to reframe the thoughts. Kelly’s meditation continued on, “We often seek external thoughts as guidance, but meditation is an opportunity to sit with your thoughts.” As you practice sitting with your thoughts it becomes easier.
As some thoughts can cloud our minds and stir up anxiety or discomfort, we can also use our thoughts as a way to re-formulate how we feel in any given moment. And as Kelly said, “Our brains are fully adaptable and malleable for the duration of life. Our tissue is reshaped again and again by thoughts and experiences.”
Continuing, “You’re not your mind, but the observer. We can’t control outside circumstances but we can control how we respond.”
How am I breathing, thinking, feeling?
- Recognize what’s going on inside of you
- Are you feeling sad, angry, hurt, peace, bliss?
- What’s going on through the body?
- What’s the thought/emotion?
- Are you judging yourself?
- Can you separate the emotion and just observe it?
- You are not the emotion but the observer of the emotions
- Notice where you feel the emotions in the body - tension in the chest, etc.
- Allow the entire sensation
- Breathe in ↓ and out ↑
- Extend yourself the compassion that you need
- Separate from the part of you that’s holding the reaction
- Say to the feeling: You belong
- Make space and allow whatever is here, this doesn’t mean you have to like the feeling ↳ Accept without wishing it wasn’t so
- Allow life to be just as it is
- Allow yourself to be you, free
- Allow your uniqueness, messiness and shine bright
“No event can be judged as good or bad because we can’t predict or assume it to be, what looks like a setback might actually be a present in disguise.”
“We can learn and grow from events instead of having the attitude of negativity, it can actually be exciting.”
“Notice resistance and allow instead → All suffering comes from resisting what is, be the observer without judging and just see what comes.”
- What do I need?
- What am I afraid of?
- What can I learn from the anxiety?
- What can comfort me?
- Allow yourself to feel love
- I’m not alone
- All of my feelings are okay
- I am safe
- I let go of what I can’t change and I do my best with what I can
- My anxiety doesn’t get to make decisions for me
- I release worry and I know that this too shall pass
- I’m not alone in my struggle
- I am enough, I have enough, I do enough
- I release control and surrender to the flow of love
- With each breath I feel more home that surrounds me
- Accept the things I cannot change
- I talk to myself like I talk to my loved ones
- I’m relaxing each part of my body: opening, releasing, allowing, feeling
- Receiving my love
- My heart is holding me
- I’ve got me here
- Bring to mind something that makes you feel good and imagine that energy flow through you with loving presence
- Let love in, let healing in
- You are the holder, explore what it’s like to let love in
- Be aware of the quality of presence that’s here
- Now, heart open, belly soft, spaciousness, sit with the calm, and rest into it remembering it’s your natural state
- This is who you are above everything
- Your safe space is you
- Sense your okay-ness
- Let this truth vibrate over you
- Everything is okay, it’s okay, I’m okay
- Memorize this feeling and know this is always inside of you
My hope is that these reflections and meditations can enhance your life and allow you to reshape or shift how you perceive your feelings at any given moment.
Remember that creating a meditation practice takes time and patience. It’s to be expected that the mind will wander, that it will be uncomfortable, and thoughts might come up that we are least expecting, but just allow the process to happen. Don’t force it, but also don’t push away the thoughts and sensations that need to escape from the body.
A meditation space where the mind can relax and connect to the experience helps but if that’s not possible, maybe lay in your bed, or sit on a comfy couch with a plush blanket, And maybe even use a diffuser, or essential oil as you ease into your meditation practice because aromatherapy is a quick resource to help shift the mind and engage your senses. Incorporate whatever tools to help you get in a comfortable and focused mindset to allow for a better practice. It won’t be easy, but that’s the beauty of using meditation as a tool in your tool box.
Meditation has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of chronic illness and it is a valuable practice to partake in to be better in tune with your body and emotions. I have personally found it to be valuable and am so glad I have found something that has shifted my perspective and mindset. It’s helped me cope with various things and has helped me grow as an individual. For the longest time, I told myself I needed to just make time for meditation but the time is there and it has become an important part of my daily regimen. I encourage meditation as a daily practice in your life, just like brushing your teeth. After making it a daily habit in my life, I no longer create excuses to avoid it knowing how much it has added value and enhanced my life.
written by Maria Ortega