As a mom of two toddlers I have been trying to catch up on my sleep for about 4 years now. I always figured that I have just become more resilient and can function a full day on less than 4 hours of sleep per night, no problem. I go to sleep far after the boys have gone down for bed, and I wake up earlier than they do to prepare for the day, but as I have gradually gained my sleep hours back, I find that I am still missing something. I realized that I was not reserving any time for myself to reflect. When the kids are napping or sleeping for the night, I am vigorously trying to get things done. I make all of my phone calls, clean up the house, mow the lawn, do my homework, or plan out the next phase of my day.
I love the idea of mindfulness, but I have a hard time committing to it because I love to just get things done. Mindfulness is so much thought with less action, which I have been working on because although it is less gratifying, it really is so beneficial in the long run. Recently I went to a Women’s Summit where at one of the events we took time to meditate. I have never been great at meditating because I have a wandering mind, but we did a guided meditation as a group, and although I did feel my mind wandering a little, at the end of it, which lasted about 10 minutes, I felt like I was waking up from a dream. It was a strange feeling but the rest of the day I felt relaxed and very focused at the same time.
There are tons of mental and spiritual benefits to meditation. It is a great way to declutter your mind and regain focus on what matters most to you. You should try to concentrate on only one thing at a time.
“After you’ve practiced concentration and learned to focus on one thing at a time, you can proceed to the next stage: no thought at all. Achieving a silent mind is difficult, but when to attain it the experience is powerful.” (Mindful.org)
Our minds are used to complication, so it takes practice to learn to focus on one thing or even nothing at one time.
I realize now that although I was taking time for myself in terms of managing my time to get things done, I wasn’t taking time to relax, put my guard down, and allowing myself to just breathe. Meditation can help with depression, stress, headaches, attitude, immunity, sleep, creativity, relationships, burnout, GPA, reliance on painkillers; OK… the list goes on and on really. What better reasons to give it a go? I feel more focused and can start my day with a clear head, leaving any stress behind, and center on how I am going to accomplish my goals.
Most people live with a false sense of emergency, and feel that the last thing they have time to do is meditate, but you can really spend just one minute a day meditating and there are tons of apps to help you get started. My favorite app is Headspace. It is free and can help get you started on an easy pace. If you want to try a guided meditation which is a little less open ended and may help you really get in the zone, listen to Denise Linn’s “33 Spirit Journeys”.
Take the time for yourself today. I was such a skeptic and used to think meditation was weird, but now I swear by it. It gives me a few minutes a day to really tune into what I am feeling and what I want. If you try it out a few times, I would love to know how you felt about it and if you noticed a difference, especially in your concentration levels.