As many of you know, I began a meditation practice this past year. Although it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, my practice really developed as a way for me to manage the stress and overwhelm that I was feeling. Each morning, I woke up at 5am (yes, 5 am!) and spent 30 minutes sitting in silence before the kids woke up and the morning chaos began. While it helped a little, I couldn’t help feeling like a bit of a fraud. You see, I did meditation the way I do everything else - as a Type A control freak, determined to do it perfectly (not exactly zen-like). Rather than clearing my mind, my meditation time was often spent running through the to-do list and planning the day ahead of me. I’d catch myself, reprimand myself, try to clear my mind again and, ultimately, end up obsessing over some other thing. Day after day, this has been the pattern and I’ve become increasingly frustrated over my belief that I’m doing it all wrong. Hard as I try, I just can’t seem to still my mind. I’d just about given up on meditation when into my life walked Rebekah "Bex" Borucki - fitness blogger (her site, Bexlife is amazing!), yoga instructor, meditation guide, fitness guru, t.v. personality, writer, urban farmer and mother of 4. She’s your basic “Renaissance Woman Next Door.” You can imagine how thrilled I was for the opportunity to chat with Bex about meditation, motherhood and the crooked path toward enlightenment.
Here’s a snapshot of our conversation:
As you may know, I’m doing a series of blog posts this summer called the Summer Mind-Body Cleanse and my readers have expressed an interest in learning about meditation. The problem is, I’m a struggling meditator, so I’m hoping that, as an expert in this area, you can help us not only define what meditation is, but demystify the meditation process.
You’ve come to the right place! I love talking about things that make people feel great.
I’m curious about what brought you to meditation. Did you come to it through your yoga practice?
Interestingly, no. Meditation brought me to yoga, which is the opposite of what happens for most people. Yoga is often the gateway drug into Eastern philosophy but, for me, the meditation came first. My mother worked in a bookstore when I was a teenager and, one day when I was helping her at work, I came across the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I became so fascinated with the story of his spiritual practice and his journey because it was so different from what I had been taught up to that point. I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian household and the dogma of that belief system made me feel very separate from God and kind of lost. As a teenager, struggling with the identity issues and self-esteem issues that most teens struggle with, I found meditation empowering and all-inclusive. I meditated for about 13 or 14 years before I found yoga.
The fact that you stuck with it must mean that it helped you. What changes did you experience as a result of the meditation?
I felt so comforted and empowered by it. Here was this practice that told me, “You can have a direct relationship with God. You can speak directly with God.” And I didn’t need anyone or anything else in order to do it. Over the years, it’s taken different forms, but I’ve stuck with it all this time.
I have to ask you this because I’m dying to know...as a busy woman who juggles A LOT - four kids, a husband, a home (with farm animals!), a thriving career, etc. - what are the logistics of your meditation practice? When, where and how long do you meditate each day?
I love, love, love this question because I get to reveal my dirty little secret and I get to show people that meditation DOES NOT require a long time, a specific place, or any special routine. Meditation means “to contemplate.” I always tell people, it’s the quality NOT the quantity of time that matters. In fact, I have a series of videos called, “You Have Four Minutes.” I post 4 minute workout routines, 4 minute meditations and, soon, I’ll be adding 4 minute recipes to the series. I chose 4 minutes because that’s all the time it takes. And let’s face it, if you don’t have four minutes a day, you need to re-evaluate your priorities!
I try to meditate first thing in the morning. Do you do the morning thing, too?
Well, here’s what I do: I sleep with my cell phone under my pillow. Maybe not the healthiest thing, I don’t know, but that”s just the way it is. So, no, I don’t meditate right when I open my eyes. When I get up at about 5:30am, I’ll go downstairs. It’s before the rest of my family wakes up and I’ll just look around and spend a few moments in gratitude. I’ll say “thank you” to God for my home, my garden, all the things that I love about my life. That is all it takes...that’s my morning meditation. Then I’ll meditate at other points throughout the day, as well.
With respect to exercise, experts say that you don’t have to do it all in one long session. You can achieve the same benefits by breaking exercise up into shorter sessions throughout the day. Is it the same with meditation? Can we get the same benefits by doing several short meditations throughout the day?
Absolutely. I have a couple of things that I love to do and I can almost always squeeze them in, even on the busiest days: One is what I call a “transition meditation.” When I park the car - whether it’s at my house, when I’m out running errands, wherever - I’ll just sit in the car for a few moments and take some deep breaths. I’ll take a few moments to pause and center into my body. The other thing I do, which you might think sounds really strange, is...I’ve been known to lock myself in the laundry room for a few minutes when I first come into the house. I’ll just take a few minutes to breathe and transition myself to being home.
I love that and, no, it doesn’t sound strange to me at all! There are times that I’d love to lock myself in the laundry room. I also find it really important to transition at the end of the day. When I drive home from work, I usually don’t listen to the radio or anything. I try to get quiet and let go of all of the work stuff. Making that mental shift helps me to be less stressed when I get home. Now when you do this, do you sit in silence or do you have a mantra you use?
Both. Sometimes, I sit in silence. Other times, I’ll say “I am.” (I like that because it implies that I’m enough just as I am. I don’t need to define my purpose and I don’t need to be doing anything). Sometimes, I’ll add in some adjectives, like, “I am so strong.” “I am awesome.” “I am worthy.” Even if you don’t feel it say it. It’s really powerful.
These techniques are fantastic. I’m looking at meditation very differently now and it seems much more accessible. It seems like something that I can do, even if I don’t have the time (or the desire) to sit for a full 30 minutes, when I first wake up in the morning.
Meditation shouldn’t be stressful. We should approach it with curiosity, not judgement. We can redefine meditation so that it’s simply a contemplation of the things that are wonderful in your life. And we have to honor the fact that we’re mothers. We can adapt our meditation practice so that it fits into our lives. Maybe right now, all you have time for is a moving meditation. As you walk through the house, you notice the good things about your home and your life. That’s fine. There’s a benefit to that. And the practice will change and evolve over time. It’s important for people to start where they are. My goal is to help people become happier and healthier than they are now. It requires knowing where they are in their lives now and finding the methods that feel good and fit into their day.
When we look at meditation this way, it really opens it up. For example, I love to cook. I never really thought about it as meditation, but now I’m realizing that being alone in my kitchen and preparing a meal is very meditative for me. It’s the kind of moving meditation that you talk about.
Yes, definitely! You approach cooking with awareness and mindfulness, and you’re fully immersed in your joy. That’s meditation.
I know that you have some wonderful guided meditations on your YouTube channel. I think that, for someone who is new to meditation, your videos are a fantastic resource. Can you recommend some guided meditations for beginners?
These meditations are a great place to start:
In my “Meditation for Going to Sleep.” I guide viewers through a body scan, which I love (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF_ENvZahZU);
Another one is called a “Meditation for Bullies.” Interestingly, this was designed for teenage girls, but the women love it! It’s a very empowering meditation. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1Wo1KE8TFA);
I also have a “Meditation for Weight Loss” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFJlxYSin5o);
and a “Meditation for Beauty” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FueeAKHHIxE&list=SPA2E34CD9004F5FD9&index=16).
Many, many thanks for all of your meditation tips, tricks and guidance. I think that meditation is an important tool for my SiciLean ladies to use during this summer’s Mind-Body Cleanse. Toxins out...”Bliss In” ;)
If, like me, you’ve come to adore Bex and her fun and dynamic, yet manageable, approach to health and wellness, you’re in luck because there are many ways to catch up with her (they’re listed below).
And that is your Action Step this week: Try some of Bex’s ideas (explained on the InfoGraphic below, titled "5 Meditations Anyone Can Do") and her guided meditations (on YouTube) and bring this incredibly healthy practice into your week. Be sure to let me know how you’re doing in the Comments below.
The BexLife site is an amazing resource for all things “wellness” - http://www.bexlife.com
Bex’s YouTube channel has tons of terrific fitness videos, yoga videos and guided meditations - http://www.youtube.com/user/genghisgirl
She hosts the show, “Got Zen?” on the Veria network - http://www.veria.com/search/got%20zen
Connect with her on Facebook - Rebekah Borucki: BexLife.com
Follow her on Twitter - @BexLife
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