OK, I am not actually going to die any time soon (hopefully!), but I definitely feel that my spirit and zest for life will if I don’t do this on a daily basis.

Call it whatever you want, mindfulness, meditation, quiet time, me-time, reflection, yoga, stretching, breathing, soul searching… the point is that it is important and we all need to be doing it.

I was first introduced to meditation (or whatever you want to call it) when my husband and I were travelling in Ecuador last year. We ended up volunteering at a really great self-sustainable little farm in the coastal mountains. We were lucky to be surrounded by endless amounts of bananas, oranges, papayas and cacao (yes we made our own chocolate!). It was an amazing place filled with love and friendship for all who came. We became fast friends with an Australian fella who introduced us to something called “yoga nidra”. It is essentially a guided relaxation/meditation that you listen to while lying still on your back. I’m sure you can imagine how difficult this was with all of the bugs landing on our arms, legs and face- we quickly realized that we had to cover up completely before starting or else we could not make it through (you should have seen our faces wrapped up in t-shirts!).

I quickly fell in love with taking the time to reflect and check in with my body. It was something that we had never taken time to do before and could not believe how amazing it made us feel. As a society we are constantly running around with 1000 things to do each day and often forget to listen to our body and understand what it is telling us.

Since my chance introduction to meditation, I have made it a priority to take time for myself on a daily basis. Whether it is taking a walk by myself around our yard, doing a 10 or 20 minute guided meditation, doing yoga, or simply sitting on my deck with no distractions (just me and my mind- a scary thing!), I make sure to do it every day. And I know my mind and body will thank me for it in the long run.

OK, I know you are hearing a lot lately about the amazing wonderful scientific benefits of mindfulness, awareness and meditation, but let’s just forget about all of that for now. Who really did these studies anyway? How does it actually apply to my life? How can some stranger guarantee that they can change my life? Let’s cut through the “marketing” of it all and let me share with you what effects it has on my life from a real human perspective:

  1. It has helped me learn to stay calm and present when things do not go as planned (which used to make me very agitated and angry)
  2. It has helped me truly understand that things happen for a reason (good and bad) and to look at difficulties from a new perspective. I now always ask myself “what cool thing did I just learn from that?” Whenever something goes wrong (like when I get lost or my dinner doesn’t turn out as planned).
  3. It has helped me stay focused and understand what is important to me in life and on a daily basis
  4. I am happier and more understanding to the people around me (my husband is thankful)
  5. I am more patient
  6. I am more inspired and happy every day (a side effect of being more aware of what I want out of life)
  7. I am more aware of all of the amazing things I have in my life. I am grateful on a daily basis for everything I have

These are pretty amazing effect from only taking 10-20 minutes inside my own head every day. And it is not hard either, the hard part is making it a part of your routine so that it can become a habit- I still struggle with this. You can start today by taking a 10 minute walk alone. Leave the cell phone and ipod at home. Just be with yourself- you might be amazed at what you learn.

Once you are ready to try more things, there are thousands of resources online so get experimenting and see if you can find one that you really love (yoga nidra, guided meditation, yoga, breathing exercises…).

The hardest step is the first one. Try it and I am know you will be glad you did!

Health and Happiness for today & tomorrow