Guest blogger alert: The talented and beautiful Joanne Jimenez. Joanne participated in my 30 Day Transcendental Meditation Challenge, and lived to tell about it! All you moms and dads out there are sure to be inspired. Thank you, Joanne.
Before I learned to meditate I thought it was some sort of time consuming, hippie-ritual-rain-dance. On the contrary, I think the reason I have been successful at integrating Transcendental Meditation (TM) into my daily life is because it is so simple.
Every morning my alarm sounds at 6:15. I open my eyes, give a quick stretch, close my eyes again and begin TM. Yep, that easy. I sit in bed for 20 minutes and allow my mantra to refresh my brain and set my tone for the day. A second alarm sounds (chirping crickets, nice and peaceful) another quick stretch and up I go. In the evening, I simply sit on the edge of my bed close my eyes and 20 minutes later my mind is clear of the day’s demands. No special room needed, no specific music or scented candle, just myself and a quiet place to sit.
As easy as it is do TM whenever and where ever, the discipline of doing it everyday is something that can slip away easier than it is to slip into a state of meditation, or so I discovered. The days I skipped TM would leave me feeling a bit off, anxious, and tired. So as soon as my friend, hypnotherapist Cynthia Morgan, announced she would be doing a TM 30 day challenge, I thought it would be a great way to recommit to daily meditation.
My new commitment could not have come at better time. After my first week, I fell and injured myself pretty seriously. I can't explain the amount of pain I was in, but it was close to the pain I experienced giving birth to my son. It really made me hold on to meditation for so many reasons. Not only did it allow me to fight through bouts of excruciating pain, but it helped me handle a situation that kept me from work and my son, tied to my bed and alone.
This would have been the perfect time for a meltdown. If there was a time to give up, I had the perfect excuse. But instead I stayed focused on my meditation practice and I realized that it helped put things in perspective: accidents happen. I couldn't dwell on it. I couldn't change the circumstances. I could only be in the moment, accept my pain and take it day by day. Had I not been in the middle of a TM challenge, I know the pain would have gotten the best of me.
I kept a journal for my 30 days, I noticed my journal entries about parenting began to change as time went on. Week One seems like I wrote more about my fatigue trying to keep up with my demanding schedule of work, mom, friends and family. The guilt of being a single parent, always wondering if I give my son enough time and attention is never ending. "Today I just didn't have enough time or patience to read a bed-time story to Lil J, straight to bed." Week Three journal entry: "The conversation I had with Lil J was priceless, my mind is focused and clear of exhaustion which made me a better listener today."
I started to feel that even though I may be tired from a long day, my mind was still open. Instead of shutting down from exhaustion I was able to be present in everything my son said and did. My mood was just different. Although my life is a non-stop schedule, I remained balanced and capable, and that feeling was becoming unshakable.
TM lowers my level of anxiety, which then allows me to prioritize. At the end of the day when something does not get done or I've made a wrong choice, my mind no longer triggers a tightness in my chest, which leads to knots in my stomach, which leads to a shortness of breath. Instead I get to hit a reset button twice a day, and my perception and experience changes.
I trust my choices now. TM has a way of helping me listen to my inner voice and find the answers to questions or concerns I have. My "light bulb" moments are more often.
I missed four days out of the 30, and to be honest I thought I would miss much more. Four is not bad! Lately, I’m proud to say I’ve missed zero. I hope to continue my journey of meditation. But no matter how many days I miss, I can never imagine not knowing what it is like to close my eyes and fall deep into another area of my consciousness. When my eyes open, everything in my life is no longer a situation, but an opportunity. And that's the greatest lesson I have learned.