FIND ‘ME TIME’ // HOW TO MEDITATE WITHOUT MEDITATING

We all know meditating is good for us, though for some it’s just far too hard. So we continue to rush through our lives, allowing stress to engulf us and accepting this as ‘just the way it is’, falling into bed at night wired, defeated and mentally exhausted. If this isn’t you, then you’ve probably already got your shit sorted (awesome stuff!). You might still find this post useful though; something new may pop up for you. For the rest of us, and let me tell you how common the above formalities are, we are struggling.

At the start of the year I was told I had adrenal exhaustion. My naturopath told me I was a step away from full-blown adrenal fatigue and the point where she would usually tell her clients to take stress leave and just chill out and do nothing. I knew I’d been running on adrenalin and rushing through life; hell I’d just quit my job and started a full blown business with my partner, I had to hustle. There wasn’t a choice.

Turns out there is a choice, and you know it’s almost 18 months down the track, but I have figured it out. Well, kind of. I don’t think we ever obtain perfection, but I am really cued in to my body now, emotionally and physically. I know when to give it a damn rest.

We are all so many things to so many people, wanting to do more, be more and get more. But what if I told you, you could have your cake and eat it too?

I promise you, you can. Let me tell you, it takes some personal commitment. But you got this!

My naturopath recommended meditation. I have meditated all my life. Really, I have. I find it both the most beautiful and most frustrating experience ever. Some days I feel rejuvenated, some days I feel frustrated, even worse than I felt before beginning. Can you relate? Meditate is a deep, philosophical practice that our brain, in today’s society, really struggles to grasp – just sit there, don’t think about anything and just be, for like 10 minutes (or more if you’re mastering the technique). And just like that, our brain does the opposite, because who likes to do what they are told? Ha!

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I downloaded the app, headspace. I have alerted to this before. It’s friggin’ awesome. But again, I detested meditation. I found it really difficult. This time of my life I was just too wired, too ‘busy’. I got bored, felt like I was time wasting and was overwhelmed with guilt. The only time I ever feel at ease meditating, like really at ease, was after a yoga class. Or after my own yoga & mobility class I taught at my gym.

I went against the grain and found various other ways to harness relaxation without actually having to meditate. I knew I needed to rest, so I found ways that worked for me that allowed me to chill out and reap the benefits of meditation, without actually meditating. If you are struggling to go cold turkey into meditation, these activities might just be the best stepping stones for you to re-connect with yourself, relax and find joy in your day without the added frustrations.

Obviously yoga is on my list. However, unless you do it in your lounge room (and there are copious amounts of YouTube videos to assist you with this), you need to leave the house, the class time might not work for you everyday, yada yada. We need to find something we can do every day, at the same time if possible. If it’s not possible, doing our best to stay consistent with scheduling ‘me time’.

Here are a few ideas I have up my sleeve. I have trialled all, and I have my favs, but each are special in their own way…

Reading a book you enjoy. Not a textbook. A delicious novel or non-fiction that you can really sink your teeth into and find yourself immersed in the words. What’s even better, and I find really relaxing, is reading a mindfulness book. Thich Nhat Hahn is my favourite mindfulness author.

Going for a walk. Winter can be hard because it’s wet and miserable, though in summer this is a godsend! Getting out into nature and taking mindful steps.

Colouring in. Not only does this stimulate the right side of the brain (colour perception and comprehension, imagery), it also harnesses your creativity. Step outside your left-brain for 10 minutes or more and become lost in colouring. You are totally focusing on the activity! See if you have some positive insights and watch your productivity soar! Mindfulness colouring in books are actually super cheap on book depository at the moment. Grab one here.

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Listening to music. Lay somewhere quiet and comfortable, and listen to your favourite calming music. I love mixes like this chill step one and this majestic casual one, and my favourite artists for calming times are Chet Faker, Clams Casino, Sia, Alt-J, Lorde, and Angus & Julia Stone, to name a few. What are yours?

Journaling. Writing down everything and anything that comes to mind. You can even buy Q&A journals, like this, and then you have something to write about each day. Reflection is a really good way to re-connect with the day, the moment, the now.

Acupuncture. A new one I have just added to my list. I saw a Chinese doctor last month. I am blown away by the affects it has had on me ever since. My constant calmness, inner peace and ability to trudge through my days without rushing too much, or at least recognising that I am moving a bit too fast/doing a few too many things at one time – “too many screens/programmes/emails open Claire! Come on!” More to come on this. I see her again next week and I can’t wait to share my overall experience with you.

Kinesiology. I still have no idea what happens here. My boyfriend calls it ‘tippa tappa’ after he attended a session with me. They identify weaknesses in your muscles, and find systems that are not operating effectively and then work to strengthen the way your body works (please don’t quote me here!). I started this about 3 months ago. Something I am trialling out to see its affect and to hopefully have another tool up my sleeve to refer clients to.

Massage. An hour+ of complete and utter relaxation. Choose your masseuse wisely if you are hoping for it to be relaxing. You don’t want a sports masseuse breaking down all your knots when you were hoping for just a little rub! Massage is great for so much more than just relaxation. It helps to get your lymph moving and stimulate your muscles. A double tick!

Floating. Resting in a tank filled with epsom salts that allows you to float in effortlessly and feel as if you are weightless. Proven to combat stress and enhance relaxation. I highly recommend floating for anyone that wants an intense relaxation session. You feel incredibly euphoric after!

From headspace.com

From headspace.com

{Obviously acupuncture, kinesiology, massage and floating are like yoga – they cost money and you can’t really do them everyday. They are just great tools for your monthly-bimonthly self-love and care}

Lay in the sun. Around the hours of 11am and 1pm (steer clear of too much uncovered sun exposure during this time). Laying in the sun boosts your vitamin D (which subsequently is a great vitamin for brain and mood health). It is also a nice time to just lay and be. You might even find yourself fall into meditation accidentally! I personally have found this. Just be. When you aren’t forcing something, it can happen in its own time. I find this the same with meditation, maybe you will too?

Not all these practices will work for you. Or they might, I don’t know. Though, you really need to find the one that is the best (and potentially the best bang for your buck). What works for you? Afterwards, which makes you feel the most rejuvenated? Which allows for you to participate in your most creative work, and which fosters productivity?

One or more of them will. It’s just finding ‘the one’. It’s not about finding time. Trust me. Time is abundant. It’s our perception of time that is debilitating us. I promise if you just give yourself 10 minutes a day (at the very minimum) to shut off the world (yikes, no social media or emails!), you will notice such a beautiful shift in your energy, your mood, your zest and vigour, and your readiness to tackle your everyday lists and challenges. You ultimately create more time for yourself in giving yourself time off each day, how cool is that?

I used to be one of those “I don’t have enough time” people. I have tried, especially in the most recent months, to prioritise the importants in life, and not say that phrase.

What you think, you become. My time is abundant and I will choose to use it in the ways that serve me best. Reframe your thinking; take some time out for yourself today. The energy you’ll exude afterwards will be infectious to those around you.

From headspace.com

From headspace.com

I’d love to hear your favourite ways to wind down and relax!? Share them in the comments below.

Yours in stress-free wellness,

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Claire Hargreaves