Catchy title, right? I bet you’re thinking – sure, whatever…changing my life can’t be that easy. I’m here to tell you that it CAN! There is no magic pill you need to take or book to read. 3 simple steps taken DAILY can change your life forever.
First a quick background story on why I’m claiming to have the “secret” to changing your life for the better. I have always been what you would typically describe as “Type A.” I liked to be in control of my surroundings AT ALL TIMES. This lead me down the road of daily frustration and anxiety (because NEWS FLASH – you can’t control all things at all times). To the outside world I was happy, put together and successful. Inside I was full of frustration, negative self-talk, and anxiety.
Then in May of 2017, I read an article about the scientific benefits of meditation (I am, after all, a scientist at heart). Before this, I just thought meditation was a lot of mumbo jumbo…just for “crunchy” people. Not anything that I would ever try. PLUS, who has time to sit still for 10 minutes and just breathe…I have MUCH better things to do with my time.
Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt. – St. Frances de Sales
I decided to try it anyway…because SCIENCE. Plus, what could it hurt. I won’t go into all the nitty gritty of the next 16 months of my life that has brought me to today…but I will say that I am a different person. To the outside observer, I may not seem that different. Still happy, put together and successful…BUT my “inside self” has done a complete 180. I’m less anxious, calmer, and SO much happier with myself and my surroundings.
And if THIS Type A, anxious, perfectionist can change…so can YOU!! Here’s how:
- Find (or create) your quiet space. It can be an entire room or just a chair in the corner. Pick a time that you will practice daily. My “space” is a certain spot on my couch in the dark quiet of the morning (I make sure to wake up 90ish minutes before my family so that I have that time just for me). Make sure your space is comfortable and comforting at a time when you will not be disturbed (challenging, I know). Try not to focus on the toys that might need to be put away or the bookshelf that needs to be dusted. There will come a time for that later. For now, this time is yours and yours alone.
- Pick a mindfulness strategy that suits you. Maybe you like yoga – do that. Meditation – go for it. Deep breathing. Whatever works. My morning routine consists of reading my bible for 10ish minutes and then meditating (using the Headspace app) for 10 min. I make sure to include this in my daily routine no matter where I am or what I’m doing (vacation, conference for work, home on the weekends, etc.). This routine grounds me and helps me start my day relaxed and rejuvenated…and it only takes 20 minutes. That is 1.3% of my day. That’s it!! 1.3% is all it takes.
- Once you’ve found the strategy that works for you, STICK TO IT for at least 30 days. One month – that’s all I’m asking for. 1/12 of your year. Easy peasey. You can do it!! Why 30 days? Because 30 days is doable and I believe you will start to see the benefits in that amount of time.
- (Yes, I said 3 steps…this is just a BONUS). Consider journaling or documenting your feelings during your first 30 days (and beyond if you’re feeling ambitious). This doesn’t have to be a daily thing – but it’s super helpful to be able to look back to see how you have changed with a regular mindfulness practice. I didn’t do this EXACTLY, but I have been known to journal from time to time and I remember picking up my journal after a year or so of meditating and looking back at my previous entries. I was shocked to realize that most of my entries had been very negative, down on myself and my surroundings (I hate my body, I hate my house…it’s so messy, blah blah blah). I had a realization at that moment that I didn’t feel that way anymore. I had come to a place of acceptance of myself for who I was, imperfections and all (it only took 41 years to get to that place…better late than never, right?!?!).
So, 30 days – that’s all I’m asking. If you don’t feel more calm, relaxed and ready to face the world at the end of 30 days, then that’s OK. But if you DO, keep it up! You’ll be amazed at how much better life can be when you don’t live in a space of constant anxiety, fear, comparison and negative self talk. Take it from one who has “been there, done that!”
My Meditation App: Headspace