I read a lot. Articles online, blogs, social media posts, and books – I take it all in, as much as I can on a variety of topics. I absorb it and think about what I’ve read in the weeks and months afterward. I do the same with people – – things that people say, whether they are one-off comments or whole presentations – I listen to the words that come out of their mouths and will sometimes think about them for weeks, or months – – even years, if they have had an effect on me, either positively or negatively. Over the past several months the topic of meditation has come up in my news feeds and podcasts that I listen to, more often than usual, at least often enough for me to take note of it. Specifically around business owners needing to take time to meditate. Put “thinking time” on your calendars, they say – every business owner needs time to take everything in, think about it, plan, set goals … meditate. It’s come up a lot, and every time I hear it I think … “Sounds good, but I suck at meditation. I can’t just sit quietly and….think“.
Several successful people meditate. Some use meditation to communicate with God. Some use it to check their ego – others use it to wrestle with an issue they are struggling with, and more use it to reduce stress, maintain good health (mental and physical) and keep their mind clear of the clutter that life brings.
Anyone who is familiar with yoga knows about Savasana. Savasana is also known as the “Corpse Pose” because all you do is lay on the floor and relax for about 5 minutes. I used to joke that Savasana was my very favorite part of yoga practice, but in reality – I find it to be the hardest. You lay on the floor, on your back and you begin the process of clearing your mind. You focus on one body part at a time … relax your eyebrows… your eyes…your jaw… your next..and on and on until you’ve reached your toes. The yoga teacher generally puts on very soothing music, dims the lights – maybe burns some incense. Why do I find this hard? It’s the clearing your mind part…..that part, for me, is difficult.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” – Carl Jung
I originally got into yoga after the death of my father in 2011. He meant the world to me and his death was life-altering. To this day, in my mind, I think of my life in terms of “before” and “after” – because I am a different person in the “after”, and that is because of the effect his death had on my life .. my psyche and my whole person. A friend told me that she thought yoga would help me heal on the inside, as well as the outside – so I gave it a shot. I used to spend Savasana thinking about him. I couldn’t stop – – I would lay on the floor in the dim room and my thoughts would turn to him doing various things. Memories of him with my children and thoughts of the talks that he and I frequently had over coffee in my kitchen. I could not quiet my mind during this time, however, I did find it to be very therapeutic to have that time to spend with him in my mind. It helped a great deal, but I would rise from Savasana feeling tense, not at all relaxed and absolutely not with a clear mind ready to take on the world.
My mind doesn’t ever quit. I have trouble sleeping at night because my mind is on constant fast-forward. My brain will pick a topic and obsess over it, no matter what it is. Work. Writing my books. My children. My employees. There have been times that I’ve obsessed so much about work while trying to sleep, I’ll just get up in the middle of the night and work out whatever process I had been obsessing over, and only then could I lay my head down and relax enough to sleep.
Back to meditation. I’ve always felt I was too distracted to meditate. To calm my mind, slow my breathing and clear my head of the noise and the junk and just think.
That is until about a month ago. It was the end of the Fall season here in Wisconsin and we live on a fairly large 9-acre property that is heavily wooded. We needed to clear all of the leaves before the first snow fell. If we don’t clear the leaves before winter, we have a gross, slippery, sludgy mess on our lawn in the spring that I would rather not deal with. I love the clear the leaves. This summer my husband bought a high powered leaf blower for me, and I was thrilled. Not every woman in the world is excited to get a gas-powered leaf blower as a gift from their husband – but Chris knows me well enough to understand that it was a perfect gift for me. It’s a backpack that I put on and then walk the 9-acres of our land and blow all of the leaves into the woods. It takes an entire weekend – roughly about 8 hours each day to get it done right.
That’s when it dawned on me. I was about mid-way through my leaf blowing task one weekend last month and I realized – I do meditate. I do it frequently and often – and I’m pretty good at it!
I do a lot of outdoor work here. Lawn mowing. Leaf blowing. Snow clearing. Gardening. There is something very therapeutic about it. The time alone, being in the outdoors – it’s here that I do all of my meditating. I’ve tried listening to music during these times, but find it too distracting to the task at hand, mostly. So it’s just me and whatever task I have ahead of me. It’s quiet, peaceful and it’s where I feel the most in touch with myself.
I most of my deep thinking during these times – but it’s a different kind of concentration from my usual obsessive distractions when I’m trying to sleep – or doing Savasana, or just trying really hard to meditate the way all of the articles and books I’ve read tell me that I should.
This leads me to the conclusion that there is no ‘right’ way to meditate. The articles, books, and speakers give you guidance on how to start a meditation practice, but that doesn’t mean that is the way that will work for you. I’ve been meditating for years and years – in the outdoors, where I am most at peace with myself and with the world around me.
It’s when I haven’t spent that time that I feel the most distracted … those are the times where my thoughts tend to stray toward my more obsessive tendencies. That is when I allow my stress to compound and gather, affecting my day to day routines, my mental health and those around me. I need that peaceful time outdoors where I center my thoughts and find solutions to problems that nag me.
Most things in life are outside of my control. I subscribe, very strongly, to the ethos of not stressing the things in life that are not controlled by me. If I do not have control over something – I allow it to leave my brain. Because I cannot control the world or the people around me, the only thing I am able to control is myself. My attitude, my thoughts, my actions – just me. Meditation is a discipline. Staying focused and resilient is hard – especially for business owners and people who live stress-filled lives. A trained and disciplined mind allows me to be methodical and clear in my business practice, and present and thoughtful in my personal life.
I just don’t meditate the way all the experts say I should. I have my own methods and my own way that works for me. These moments have helped me center myself, focus on my own awareness of people, events, and issues that surround me on a regular basis.