I’ve been wanting to try meditation for years, but I always assumed it was something I just couldn’t do. But I knew when I set my goals for 2018, I had to do something to practice regular meditation – I’m 100% sure my sanity depended on it.
Truth be told, I could have gone without the second-half of 2017. I had a few major blows in my personal life and it’s taken a toll like I’ve never experienced. I’ve spent the last 14 years of my life analyzing the romantic relationships I’ve dabbled in, and then turned around and hoped that I could offer some kernel of advice to you all.
Over those years, I’ve come to learn that heartbreak completely sucks. It’s all-consuming and hurts to the core. But I’ve also learned that just about any distraction [including, but not limited to, drinking excessively, picking up new hobbies, getting a revenge body, getting a pet, killing it at work, meeting new people, etc.] can mend the wounds of a bad relationship.
But the dish I’ve been served? It may as well be poison. It’s got nothing to do with romance and everything to do with seeing the true colors, even after 32 years.
This hurts like hell.
All of my usual cures just don’t work. Tears take over on my drive to, well, just about anywhere. My drive to work on my Etsy shop has subsided; my desire to blog has all but died. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store for the first time in a month (I’ve been living off ingredient delivery services).
And that’s just not me – it’s not even close.
It’s safe to say that stress, anxiety, and depression have finally taken their toll on my mind and body. That fact was driven home when I suffered a panic attack right before the holidays. I knew I had to do something in 2018 to find the other end of this funk.
I consulted my online networks, and even asked around at work, for advice on any meditation apps. I knew I was going to need guidance and something to hold me accountable. Here’s the advice I got in return:
- Headspace, Calm, Bhuddify, Simple Habit, & Insight Timer
A few days into the new year, I downloaded the Calm app and the Headspace app around 4am one morning during a bout of insomnia. I’ve been using the Calm app ever since!
So far, I’m really enjoying it. I am still trying out all of the free content on the app, which includes several different guided meditations, a meditation timer, a breathe bubble, various music, and bedtime stories. I have tried all of these, and I’m considering doing the paid subscription soon.
Now, I’ll preface the rest of this post by saying that I do not think I’ll be “cured” with meditation alone. I am currently looking (and financially preparing) to see a therapist regularly to help me work through some of what’s happening in my life.
But I also know that it’s good for me to take a few moments to myself each day, get some good breathing in, clear my mind as best I can, and gain some perspective.
I want to make it clear that I’ve never really tried to meditate before I opened this app. I didn’t even know much about it. So, the first few attempts at it were…interesting. Even keeping my eyes closed for the entire 10-minute session was a struggle.
But I quickly learned that meditation is not about perfection; it’s a practice just like yoga (and I’ve been working each week to better my yoga). It’s not necessary to get mad at myself if I can’t keep my eyes closed or if my mind starts to wander – that’s what it’s done for 32 years and old habits DIE HARD.
There are some days I feel really good and into the meditation, and some days, all I have time for is a few minutes of regulated breathing and I’m onto my next thing. But it all helps!
Meditation started from several different religions around the globe, with some of them on a mission to clear the mind in order to make way for communication with God. Other religions seek meditation as part of the path to Enlightenment.
Even just 21 days in, I am starting to understand and adopt the ideas of mindfulness that can help reduce stress in my everyday life. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in accomplishing so much in one day – we see stress as normal, when it’s not healthy or normal.
What’s resonated with me the most is the observation that I let what happens to me completely take over my emotions and determine my happiness, or my sadness. On the flip side, things can change in an instant, and you just never know what direction your luck will take you. In other words, “This too shall pass.”
I’d say, so far, so good. I’m really proud of myself for including this new practice into my every day life – and I hope what they say about 21 days (that it becomes a habit) is true, because I know this is a habit that won’t hurt me.
Aside from meditation, another goal of mine was to cut back on social media. I’ve basically cut out Facebook and stopped looking at and posting Instagram stories. I’ve also cut back on mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, and it’s led to a lot less social comparison (which is basically me wondering how everyone is ALWAYS on vacation) and a lot more time to read and actually meet a goal (I’m in the middle of my first screenwriting class).
I set lots of goals for myself this year, but those two really dealt with my mental health. It’s going to be slow-growing, but I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the corner.
Tuesday night, I smudged my apartment.
“Smudging” is another way of describing a cleanse, often performed in a home or a building in effort to rid the presence of negative energy.
A proper smudging ceremony can be done in many different ways, but they’re often performed while burning herbs (often bundles of sage) and repeating a chant or a mantra of some sort.
I performed my first smudging when I moved into my last apartment. I didn’t get any negative vibes there, I just couldn’t help but wonder what had happened there before I moved in, and what if it was something bad?
And so, it’s probably a tradition I’m going to keep, because really, what do I have to lose?
So, I gathered all my materials: candles, my bundle of white sage, dried eucalyptus leaves, sand, ceramic dish, and my John Mayer records (I’ll explain).
I lit all of my candles, and got my essential oil diffuser going with some eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus is known for healing the body, as well as its ability to ward off evil and protect us from enemies. Next, I put on my John Mayer record (Continuum, disc 3). During a smudging, you’ve got to be in a positive mindset in order to ward off all things negative.
I put the sand, which is bright yellow (yellow is the color of clarity and new beginnings), in the ceramic dish, which would be used to put out the sage stick once it was over.
And so, I lit the sage stick, let it burn down some and walked very slowly through my entire apartment, waving the smoke into every corner, into every cabinet and drawer, and asking any energy that was not there for positivity, love, kindness, good health, and safety, must please leave.
Once everything was “smudged” I placed the stick into the sandy bowl, and lit the eucalyptus leaves, and placed the bowl by my back door, letting the smoke (along with the negative energy) go out my screen door.
Some ritual experts will say you must go in a certain direction with the smoke, or you must use crystals. But really, the ceremony should be yours. I don’t have crystals, and they kind of weird me out, so no crystals here.
I know I probably sound completely bonkers, but I’m really just a hippie that wants nothing but good vibes. I want my home to be happy and safe, and if burning white sage and candles is going to do it, then I say YES.
I didn’t expect any major changes to occur after the smudging, but lo and behold, Blanche was way less demon-like even moments after. Small victories, folks.
Meanwhile, I was hanging out at the Washatopia last night, when I see this headline: “Good Lord, JustinBieber has a Really Beautiful Penis.”
I couldn’t not look. And I think you should do the same.