Quiet my ever-busy, ever To Do list-making, ever-worrying mind for 45-minutes of meditation at Croi Croga Studio.
A girl who, despite having blonde hair, an unbridled excitement over the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, an obsession with yoga pants (especially lately), and a phone filled with dog pictures, I apparently missed the #Basic download on the ability to be “mindful”.
Having a baby is hard y’all and I have had my fair share of emotional breakdowns since arriving home a few days ago. The sleep-deprivation has finally settled in, my worry about my fur babies adjusting to our real baby is constantly on my mind, and I am already freaking myself out over the day when my husband has to go back to work and I have to take care of it all.
It was absolutely time for some self-care and since I can’t work out for six weeks and because we got a classic Wisconsin April blizzard and I can’t walk the dogs outside, it was time to get my meditation on.
For my meditation experience, I went to my local yoga studio Croi Croga. The room was filled with the scent of some kind of citrus fruit and salt lamps lit up each corner. Seated in a circle and encouraged to find the most comfortable position you could using blankets, chairs, and bolsters, the 45-minute class was filled with about 25-30 minutes of a meditation led by our instructor. Each week’s meditation takes a different path as the instructor discovers new methods and descriptions for the class to focus on.
Here are the things that go through my mind during meditation:
I wish I had brought a bobby pin for my bangs. They look annoying … even though I have my eyes closed and everyone else in this room has their eyes closed, they’re still annoying me.
Can anyone else hear my stomach growling?
I should have gone to the bathroom before we started.
How quietly can I change positions so no one will notice I’m moving?
Oh yea, I forgot to focus on my breathing again. Ok, let’s start over.
How do I KNOW that everyone’s eyes are closed? Maybe I’ll take a quick peak to make sure.
Seven minutes?! It’s only been seven minutes?!
After the meditation, our instructor invited all of us to talk about our experience. This was the part of the class I found to enjoy the most, because, truth be told, I am not the best meditator in the world, so it’s interesting to tease apart my thoughts after our eyes are open and the session is over. Reflecting on the thoughts and feelings that kept cropping up in my mind, I was able to find a theme to where the track in my brain was leading and work through the process of rerouting it where necessary.
Finding some way to meditate is really that good for you.
You don’t have to sit in a circle in a room full of people you don’t know.
You don’t have to say “Om” at the end or clang on a meditation bowl.
You don’t actually have to know jack-anything about mindfulness.
But because you might truly know nothing about meditation, here’s a little knowledge for you.
Meditation is not about cultivating the art of “thinking about nothing”. It’s actually quite the opposite.
Meditation practices are all about noticing your thoughts as they enter your mind, acknowledging them, and then sending them on their way.
Don’t judge yourself.
Don’t let the wildfire get set off in your mind.
Rather than thinking about nothing, meditation is about training your brain to get out of auto-pilot and get into the moment.
Notice what is actually going on around you - not the things that could happen, have happened in the past, or are being filtered by your perception of the reality around you.
Smell the smells, see the sights, hear the sounds.
Pull yourself out of the habit of letting life pass you by while you’re busy in the expansive universe that is Your Mind.
Your brain IS capable of changing and growing throughout your lifetime based on how you treat it:
Mindfulness can actually change the amount of grey matter in the brain (the brain cells that connect to one another). It’s like muscle gain in the brain (how was that not a School House Rock song?)
The practice of meditation has been linked to positive changes in the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memories and spatial awareness).
Mindfulness has also been linked to brain cell growth in your pre-frontal cortex (the decision-making and judgment center of your brain). No more hemming and hawing over which kind of pasta you should order at Noodles and Company.
While most other areas of the brain grow through the practice of meditation, your amygdala could actually shrink. That’s a good thing though! The amygdala is responsible for the fight-or-flight response in your brain, which is super helpful if you are being chased by a tiger, but not super helpful most of the rest of the time. Spend less time freaking the f*** out over whether or not you left your curling iron on and the auto shut-off will fail and set your house on fire and more time enjoying whatever it is you curled your hair for in the first place.
Throughout the rest of the day, the realizations that flooded into my mind during the meditation class continued to swirl around in my mind.
It helped me not totally lose my cool when the guy who used the bathroom before me at the yoga studio not only left the toilet seat up, but DIDN’T FLUSH!
I realized how much clearer, tangible, and necessary my goals are to my life.
I didn’t blow a cork when I basically massacred my whole wheat waffles trying to spread rock hard margarine on them.
I was able to consciously not care what other people would think when I had to go to the grocery store wearing capris yoga pants and snow boots and looked like a damn fool.
I was able to mindfully choose an apple over a glazed donut when I was at said grocery store and my breastfeeding hunger reared it’s ugly head.
I was able to patiently handle my tornado dog, Dizzy, when she decided to incessantly bark at the television because she was hungry and her food bowl was not in the right spot.
I was able to compassionately handle my trusted 13-year-old boy, Maxie, when he felt it necessary to receive a handwritten invitation to come downstairs and join us for family movie night.
I was able to not judge myself for taking a nap with a box of Girl Scout Cookies in my bed.
I was able to not have a complete emotional Mommy-breakdown when my laptop’s browser automatically popped up the link to Dagny’s NicView camera and I realized just how far we’ve come in a week.
I was able to navigate through the feelings of overwhelming excitement and sheer terror when I realized I Am a parent!!