I am a huge proponent of meditation. I recommend it and teach various styles to most of my clients. I often refer to myself as a meditation practitioner. But the truth of the matter is that I am not much more than a wannabe. A heavy-duty wannabe because I really, really want to master it and incorporate it into my life. But it is hard. Why is something so essentially simple so difficult?

Archaeologists place the origin of meditation in India around 5,000 BCE. That’s 7,000 give-or-take years ago. I am only 60 and some days I feel unbearably old, so that’s a very long time. There are few if any institutions or practices that are that old and still going strong, so there must be something to it. It is a tried and true practice that has immeasurable mental and physical health benefits. We will take a closer look at meditation and different styles in upcoming posts.

Right now, I want to talk about getting ready to start to begin to commence to meditate. I find that clients cannot wrap their heads around sitting still for twenty minutes. They have jobs, kids, spouses, significant others, zoom meetings, ringing phones, beeping microwaves, Twitter-Facebook-Instagram-Tik Tok-Snapchat notification dings, and pets making that I’m-about-to-puke-on-the-carpet sound. All of which seems to require instant attention. How the F can they possibly sit still and in silence for twenty minutes a day. Right? I completely get that and all I have to contend with is a microwave and a puking cat.

I suggest starting off much more simply than that:  Just. Slow. Down. 

We live in an artificially frenetic world.  There is very little that actually requires the hair-on-fire pace we have adopted. Stop and ask yourself if living at that pace rewards you with significant free time at the end of the day. I have never had anyone tell me that it does. So stop it. Just stop it. Seriously.

You can do everything you need (operative word) to do over the course of the day – slowly. I promise. You will feel better at the end of the day when you slide between the sheets. And you will sleep better which will set you up for success the following day. I am not a neurobiologist so I can’t explain why this works but it does. Besides, no one wants to read a paragraph full of multi-syllabic words so I won’t even try.

Starting tomorrow morning get up slowly. Open your eyes to the sun coming in the window or the alarm going off, slowly. Roll around. Stretch. Yawn. Snuggle your pillow, your person, your kid, your pet. Take a few deep breaths. Let them out, slowly. Roll to the edge of the bed and lower your feet to the floor, slowly. Stand up. Stretch. Get your bearings. What’s next? Whatever it is do it, that’s right, slowly.

Go through your entire day that way. Walk slowly. Talk slowly. Chew slowly. Breathe slowly. Drive slowly. Think slowly. Speak slowly. Respond slowly. You will settle into a comfortable pace that feels right for you. At first it will feel as though you are swimming through mud. You will be self conscious. You will worry people will think you’ve had a vascular event. You might get panicky, fearing you will not accomplish what you want to by day’s end. You may begin to bargain with yourself – “I’ll blow through this and then slow down later”. Relax. Stick with it. It will pay off. You might realize it at the end of Day One. It may take three to five days. Monitor yourself frequently and remind yourself to slow down when you realize you’ve gotten wound back up. Be patient with yourself.

After at least three days, preferably five, take an inventory. Did anything major go undone? Did you have fewer arguments, disagreements, contentious interactions? Did you have less gastric reflux, heartburn, gastrointestinal distress? Did you have less anxiety or even panic? Did you smile more? Did you sleep better? Did you have more free time? Did others around you seem to mellow out as well? Did anyone comment that you ‘seem different’? Any one of these is a win!

In the coming months we will talk about adding in a simple meditation practice. But for now, just slow down. Breathe. Appreciate. Be grateful for what is.