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December 22, 2018

Meditation: A Journey Home to Ourselves.

 

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What if told you that home wasn’t a place but a feeling—an “inner knowing?”

That home is a feeling of comfort and security in knowing who you are and where you begin. That who are you—as you are right now—is enough.

About 10 years ago, I decided to try meditation because I was going through a rough patch in life. Okay, more like a rough several years. It was during the recession of the late 2000s. After nearly a year of unemployment, I was working a stressful job, under financial strain, and convinced that nothing in my life was working out.

I knew I had to do something to turn things around, so I devoured as many self-help and spirituality books as I could find. I read Deepak Chopra, David Simon, Louise Hay, and Eckhart Tolle, to name a few. Meditation was the reoccurring theme throughout everything I read.

I remember my initial thoughts on meditation. I didn’t want to waste time just sitting around, but I decided to give it a try anyway.

My first stab at meditating—for a mere five minutes—was agony. My thoughts waged war on themselves, my back ached, my hips hurt. I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be doing.

If meditation was supposed to bring me peace, all it did was uncover my inner turmoil.

Despite a rocky start, I went on to experiment with different types of meditation. Discovering guided meditations was a lifesaver in the beginning because they provided much needed structure and direction.

After a few years of meditating, I slowly began to see the benefits of stepping away from activity and finding stillness. I felt calmer and less reactive.

Fast-forward a few more years and meditation had become a natural part of my daily routine. I looked forward to it because it made me feel good—it made me feel good not just while I was sitting in meditation, but throughout my entire day.

But there was more. After years of meditating, I realized that meditation was bringing me closer to the source of who I was.

By sitting with my thoughts and emotions—positive, difficult, painful, or confusing—I learned to detach and observe whatever came up. Learning to do this made me realize that the source of myself went far beyond those thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings were just white noise—and that white noise could fall away.

Getting closer to the source of myself, I was ultimately finding my way home. Meditation was bringing me home—to myself.

This brought a feeling of comfort and deep connection with myself that I had never experienced. And in doing so, the urgency to “fix” my flaws, compulsions, and anxieties gradually fell away.

This self-acceptance was a brand-new concept to me—I had never been taught to accept myself or that I was good enough as I was. But meditation taught me that I didn’t need to look outside myself for acceptance or approval. There was nothing to fix. Everything I needed resided within me.

In meditation, I learned to ride the waves of life, knowing that I could always come back to this set point within, giving me confidence to handle those waves. I came to know more fully who I am and what I want out of life, without hiding or apologizing for it.

Fast-forward to today and I’m about 10 years into my continually unfolding meditation journey. Some days, all I can manage is a quick 10-minute practice, but I prioritize meditation as a daily practice in self-care. It’s essential because those feelings of peace and centeredness from meditation carry over into the rest of my life.

As for the more concrete benefits of meditation? I learned to simply detach from my thoughts and emotions and observe them objectively—this was a big one. Meditation also helps me manage stress and anxiety, sharpens my focus, improves my quality of sleep, and even brings about ideas and moments of insight.

I also got out of that rut I was stuck in 10 years ago—I transitioned from that stressful job to a better one, dug myself out of debt, started living my dream of traveling, and met the love of my life. My life today is unrecognizable to the one I had 10 years ago, and meditation has been a cornerstone of that transformation.

I had no idea that I was on a journey home when I first started this practice. But, as it turns out, the greatest gift meditation has given me is my home within myself.

No matter where I am in the world or what kind of chaos life is throwing at me, I can always return to that safe, centered place of stillness within me. From that starting point, anything is possible.

Interested in trying meditation? Here are a few tips I found useful in the beginning:

1. Start with just five minutes and gradually work your way up to 20 or 30 minutes. Even if you don’t have time for a lengthy practice, start small.
2. Carve out a time and place for your meditations that will minimize distractions. First thing in the morning is usually best. Other than a comfortable place to sit, the only thing you need is a timer to mind the time.
3. Don’t worry if your first few meditations are difficult. It will get easier with practice.
4. There are a multitude of different meditation techniques, but the simplest I’ve found is to sit comfortably, close your eyes, and simply count your breaths in and out. If you make it to 10 breaths, start over. If you get distracted, simply start over.
5. Try guided meditations if you are struggling with silent meditation. Guided meditations can provide much needed structure and focus. There is a multitude of free guided meditations available online.
6. Seek out a meditation group if you thrive on the support and accountability that comes with a group.
7. There’s no way to get meditation wrong, so don’t worry about being perfect! If you’re making the effort to meditate, you’re doing it right.

Still skeptical about meditation? I was in the same boat many years ago, but I’m so grateful I gave it a chance. Look at it this way—you have nothing to lose but potentially a lot to gain by giving it a try.

~

author: Jessica Ruff

Image: Richard Jaimes/Unsplash

Editor: Naomi Boshari

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Melissa Baker Dec 28, 2018 8:33am

This is lovely, Jessica! So much resonated with me, as when I began 25 years ago, I closed my eyes and found myself balancing my checkbook, while others in the room traveled to amazing places. But with practice, I not only became skilled at following, eventually I learned how to lead others. It does require a commitment to one’s self, and it is well worth the effort. I know your words will inspire others. xo

Bill.brundage Dec 22, 2018 3:46pm

Jessica – You make me want to begin my meditation journey. Like you say, what do I have to lose? Thanks so much for a great article!

Judy McCord Dec 22, 2018 10:35am

Jessica, what a goldmine of information for me, a beginner at this meditating thing. Thank you!

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Jessica Ruff

Jessica Ruff has always been an old soul with a deep love of learning and the written word. With degrees in psychology, business, and marketing, she is a voracious reader and writer, as well as the owner of entirely too many books. Jessica is a devoted yogi, yoga teacher, and distance runner. She has a passion for wellness, vegan cooking and baking, and anything chocolate. An avid traveler, she is never happier than when flying somewhere new, but loves coming home to her beloved corgi Finlee.