How many times have you heard statements like these: Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Parenting (babies or teenagers) doesn’t come with a manual. As a new parent I had this thought myself. Especially when it came to nursing my firstborn. For something that was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, I found it to be an incredible struggle. From having a hard time helping my son latch on, to cracked nipples that felt like they had been set on fire, to not producing enough milk, I wondered why parenting didn’t come with a manual. Sure, there were plenty of people to offer and advice and tell me what to do. Some helpful, and some downright maddening! But it wasn’t until my daughter came along many years later that I began approach things a little differently. I still sought advice, but only from trusted friends who tended to tell me to listen to my body and take cues from my baby. To breathe. To get quiet. To trust myself.
Now, a decade later, I have created a meditation practice and I have come to realize that life DOES come with an instruction manual. Meditation is our instruction book. The beauty of this is that we don’t have to go anywhere to access the answers we are seeking, because they are within us! Regardless of the situation. Meditation allows that still small voice within to be heard. When life is moving a million miles an hour meditation allows us to hit the pause button and get off of the roller coaster!
I didn’t grow up with meditation. It’s not something I learned from my parents or anyone around me. But, I do remember as a kid lying down on the front lawn and staring up at the sky while thinking some pretty deep thoughts. And in my era as a kid, we had plenty of unstructured down time to ponder things.
They say that prayer is talking to God, and meditation is listening. We’ve all had plenty of prayer requests of God. But how often do we then take the time to get quiet and listen? We can KNOW the answer to any question we can think of if we just get quiet.
Investing as little as 10 minutes a day focusing on your breathing has been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety, which are rampant in our society today, and increasingly in teenagers. In addition to relieving stress, meditation helps us be more mindful of our emotions and how to manage them so we can live healthier and more productive lives.
There are a lot of myths about meditation, and confusion, but it’s not as complicated as you might think. Start by getting comfortable. You can sit or lie down. Inhale. Exhale. Of course there are many breathing techniques, but it’s best to not force something that doesn’t feel natural. You will have thoughts. Probably lots of thoughts. Just notice. The thoughts are not going to disappear. But as you breathe and notice you will begin to find that there is a space between the thoughts and your breath. This is where the magic happens!
Meditation can bring clarity and awareness to your passion and purpose. How many people do you know that can’t begin to articulate what they are passionate about, or what their purpose is? This is perhaps because we are so focused on our outer lives, that we take little time to pick up the cues from our inner knowing and allow ourselves to spend time on the things that give us joy and purpose.
Meditation helps you to stick to your values and principles by getting clear about what’s important! When you regularly give yourself the space to get quiet, or as I also like to say, “take an effing minute” (TFM), you are better equipped to cultivate more meaningful relationships with your family, friends and community.
To quote Oprah, “the greatest gift you can give yourself is time.” And I would add, “time to be still.” If you want to tap into your own wellspring of knowledge, your “instruction manual for life”, then BE STILL. The answers lie within you. They’ve been there all along.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel