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Meditation for Beginners (Hint: You Don’t Suck At It)

 

Christy and Jayme hanging out at Wanderlust Aspen

Christy and Jayme hanging out at Wanderlust Aspen

I am a stressed out individual, but odds are we probably have that in common. We are multi-taskers, go-getters, hustlers and our brains have literally become human computers we never turn off.

Last month I interviewed Houston Texan Duane Brown and his wife Devi. The interview was about their home (see the story here) and I expected to learn about the exotic interior decorator they used and stuff like that, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn about their morning rituals of meditating together.

Meditation has always way too spiritual for me (not to be confused with religious) and a concept I couldn’t grasp, never being able to quiet my mind long enough to reap the benefits of said quiet time.

Devi and Duane got the wheels about meditation and the benefits turning in my head and then Christy Curtis, a yoga teacher based out of Orange County hosted a class at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass: Meditation for the Athletic Minded: Be in the Z.O.N.E.. It’s no secret she had me at the word Athletic, so I added her class to my already busy list of yoga/running/hiking/breathing classes.

The Browns and Christy certainly aren’t the first to brag about the benefits of meditation, but perhaps it was knowing what their busy lives entailed and they were all athletes (Christy was a college basketball player) that made me relate and want to test it out their theory.

(If you need proof you can’t possibly be a worse meditator than yours truly, below are the notes I took during Christy’s class. Yes, I took notes, while meditating.)

Her first instruction was, “don’t think – just show up.”

She reminded us that our mind is a muscle too – as athletes we spend so much time training and strengthening our biceps and quads for example, our brain/mind should be treated the same.

One of the things Christy said that resonated with me was the practice of welcoming in thoughts during meditation. Sure, meditation is supposed to be a blank space in your head where you focus on breathing and not your overflowing to-do list, but inevitably thoughts start to creep in and then you get mad at yourself. You’re not supposed to be thinking, dammit. You’re supposed to be nothing right now!

Having practiced and perfected for many years, Christy says to welcome those thoughts in and then welcome them back out. Don’t get mad at yourself, just push those thoughts out and start right back up.

At about the exact second I was thinking how horrible I was at the simple task of sitting still and resting my mind, Christy chimed in reminding us to be kind to ourselves when we meditate. “Don’t question if you’re doing it right,” she said.

I asked Christy the hard question – probably the same one most of you who have attempted meditation want to ask as well – how does one start meditating and become good at it? If you’ve already tired (multiple times) and failed, should you keep trying?

Her response: Start where you are – it’s as simple as that. It can be as simple as 10 seconds before you turn your keys to start your car – maybe it’s just three breaths. You start where you are and I think the main thing is remembering it can be anything. It doesn’t have to be lighting a candle and waking up at 4 a.m. It’s before you go into a huge job interview, before you have a difficult conversation with a loved one, before you go hiking on the mountain top or before that race – where your mind is all over the map and all you have to do is come back to the breath,” she says.

She continued to make it sound easy, but easy it was not. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up though.

Some apps she recommends: Stop Breathe and Think, Simply Being, Headspace, and Calm.

Since I still think I’m the worst meditator ever, I’m curious who meditates and what you’ve found works or doesn’t for you? Share in the comments below – I’d love to hear it!