What I learnt during my 30 day meditation challenge
I have always wanted to develop a good meditation practice. And by practice, I mean habit. I have tried several times in the past to create a habit of meditating each day, but for some reason it never quite stuck.
Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash
I am a big believer in the benefits of meditation like:
- improved focus and productivity,
- enhanced feelings of calm,
- improved immune system,
- changes your brain for the better – meditation has been shown to grow the part of the brain responsible for emotional regulation,
- improves sleep and blood pressure,
- helps manage anxiety
If you are interested in finding out what science is saying about the benefits of meditation, see some articles here, here and here.
I decided that in preparation for becoming fabulous at 40 , I would give myself a 30 day challenge – I would meditate every day for 30 days without fail.
Here’s some lessons I learnt along the way
- I like the habit of meditating first thing in the morning. It helps set me up for the day in a good frame of mind. I feel more positive, calm and able to experience joy when I meditate first thing. Sometimes on the weekends I would miss my early morning session to allow my husband his weekly sleep in (we take turns – he gets on weekend morning and I get the other for a sleep in) and get up to the kids. On these days I would always do a session later in the day, however it never quite had the same effect.
- It is important to make sure you are physically comfortable before you sit down to meditate. On day 5 of my challenge, I had to stop my session, go to the bathroom and then restart my session again. It is almost impossible to concentrate, calm my mind when my bladder is full!
- Meditation isn’t easy for me. It took a good week to get into the swing of being able to quieten my mind during my sessions. I was able to relax my body almost from the first session, but it takes longer for me to slow my mind. As the challenge went on, I got better at it and found it less effort to get into the zone.
- Insight Timer is a fantastic meditation app to use. It is free (and also has extra services you can purchase in the app) and has literally thousands of guided meditations to choose from. There are meditations of varying styles, lengths and for different purposes. There are a wide variety of meditation teachers from a range of backgrounds. There is a timer too, if you feel like just sitting (either in silence or with background music).
- The effects of meditation seem to be cumulative/have a multiplier effect. Some days of my challenge I meditated twice in a day. The feeling of lightness and calm on those days was more than double what I would normally feel from just a morning session.
- I think the ild zen addage is true….
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes daily. Unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.
- I heard about a different style of meditation while on my 30 day challenge – T M Meditation. It sounds promising – 20 minutes, twice a day, you can do it anywhere you can sit and close your eyes. It promises several scientifically backed benefits, and is apparently very easy to learn and access. You need to learn T M from a certified teacher – I wonder why? I am investigating this as a possible addition to my list of 40 for 40 (40 things I will do for my 40th year). I will keep you posted on that. Have any of you learnt T M? I would love to hear from someone who has – is it worth it?
- My favourite meditation guide is Jason McGrice from The Meditation House in Adelaide. Jason has an album called “Daily Meds” which is fantastic, and also teaches a course on Insight Timer. Another favourite is Alison Potts from Innate Being . I find Alison’s meditations to be really grounding and are great if you are not yet ready for more woo woo things like chakra balancing and white light 😉
- Meditation didn’t fix me! I felt more calm, more patient with the kids, but there were some days where I absolutely still lost my sh*t with them! Maybe 30 days just isn’t enough!
- Meditation is addictive. After about day 18, I began to really look forward to and crave my meditation sessions. Even when I temporarily lost my meditation mojo for a few days and found it a really hard slog, I still wanted to do it, and it bounced back from the distraction pretty quickly.
- I must have enjoyed the challenge, because I am now up to day 78 in a row!
- I am going to continue with my new habit, and hopefully reap the benefits for years to come.
Do you meditate? Would you like to? I would love to hear your thoughts? Do you know me? Did you notice any difference in me over the last 30 days?
Get in touch – comment below or send an email! I always love hearing from you.
Until next time,
My Fabulous at 40 quest is born!
I suppose that milestone birthdays often spark a period of deep self reflection, questioning who we are, what we have achieved, and what might yet be to come. For me it is no different. This is the story of how one devastating day last year provided me with a turning point. The chance to get back to me and who I want to be. Who do I want to be? Well Fabulous at 40 of course!
One hard day that changed it all
Something happened at the end of last year that quite possibly changed the trajectory of my life. A kind, lovely person who I see regularly asked me when my baby was due. And I was not and am not pregnant. I want to make clear that her question was not malicious or intended to cause me hurt. She was genuinely excited that I might be looking forward to another baby coming along.
I had been putting on a bit of weight for a while as my love of Doritos, hot chips and wine became an every increasingly hard consumption pattern to break.
Looking back now, that day, crushing as it was, was a positive turning point for me. I went to the doctor for my regular (which had become not so regular) blood test check ups and discovered that I had extremely high cholesterol. My doctor gave me three months to change my numbers, or I would have to go on medication.
So how did I change?
I cut out corn chips and hot chips, significantly decreased my alcohol consumption and started using milk and butter containing plant sterols. I started trying to make healthier choices when I ate, and to drink more water. These changes alone made a significant difference. In fact, I got a big gold star from my GP three months later when we discovered that I now had cholesterol levels in the normal range. Put simply, these changes might have saved my life.
Along with the obvious benefits of my blood being able to circulate my body more freely, I discovered that I was feeling better too.
Which sparked something in me.
See, in August, I will be turning 40!
And I thought it would be a great way to celebrate this milestone, as well as kick start this new decade by feeling even more fabulous than ever before.
I feel like the 40s will be the decade for me. The 30s were all about having a family – lots of IVF and all the hormones that entailed, being pregnant and so so very unwell, losing babies during pregnancies, having babies, feeding babies and giving my two precious babies my all. Our little one is three now, and it feels like the kids are developing a level of independence now that allows me some time to focus on me. But who am I, who do I want to be and how will I get there?
Inspired by Project Me for Busy Mothers, This is 50 podcast, and The Minimalists, and lots of inspiring conversations with my Soul Sister, I have decided to focus on reconnecting with and developing certain key areas in my life. And what better time to do that than now, in preparation for my big birthday.
I have been thinking about how I want to feel when I turn 40.
I still want to feel creative, calm and connected. I still find these core desired feelings a useful compass as I navigate my life. (For information on how I came to choose these feelings and what they mean to me, go here and here)
I also want to feel healthy, strong and alive.
I want to feel inspired, hopeful and hungry for more.
I want to embark on this new decade with a level of intention never before seen in my life. Annie Dillard’s famous quote “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives” resonates deeply with me lately. Maybe it might strike a cord with you too? We can easily get caught up in everyday life, the routine of things, letting that routine take over us without much through to what really is important to us.
An from now on, I really want to focus on those things – the things that are most important to me. Because as Gretchen Rubin always says “the days are long but the years are short”.
Do you have any advice for me along the way? What kind of things would you change in your life if you wanted to feel more fabulous?
I invite you all to follow along with me as I make my way to 40. Check out upcoming posts in my Fabulous at 40 series to find out which areas of my life I am going to focus on and what I plan to do.
Until next time
This post is inspired by something I remember my Dad saying when he was in hospital having treatment for bowel cancer. He had just had major abdominal surgery, and was recovering in his quiet, graceful way. He said something to me like “imagine how many people were involved in helping me get better today”, and proceeded to list all the people that he could think of who were in some way involved in his stay in the hospital. And not just the obvious ones like the Doctors, nurses and surgeons, he went deep and thought hard. He included people like the people who transport the sheets to and from the laundry, the chef in the kitchen who prepared his food, the engineer who designed the machines that were used in the operating theatre, the scientist who discovered the combination of drugs for treatment, and many many others.
Today, as I sat peacefully in the sunshine enjoying a cup of tea on a break at work, I got to thinking about all the people I could be (and am) grateful for for helping give me this wonderful moment. Obviously, the lovely lady in the cafe near my work who is always so friendly and knows how to make my tea just the way I like it. But who else? I sat for a good twenty minutes enjoying that tea, and here are just some of the people/things I came up with that had a hand in making it such an enjoyable experience:
- The cow who produced the tons of milk I like to drink in my tea! Also the farmer who owns the cows, the truck drivers who transported the milk, the supermarket staff where the cafe owner buys the milk from.
- The people who design and make the carton the milk comes in.
- Those that made the fridge that kept the milk chilled.
- The farmers who grew and harvested the tea. Those that had a hand in turning it into the brew that sat in front of me today.
- The people who designed and made the teapot, cup and saucer my tea was served in. The teapot maker was good, this particular teapot didn’t drip at all and kept the tea warm so my second cup was just right too.
- God or the Universe or whichever higher being you believe in, for delivering this sparkly, blue sky, warm day. I appreciated the warm sunshine on the left side of my face even more after the particularly cold, rainy start we had to this week.
- The architects of the building I work in, for designing that beautiful little outdoor spot where I was able to sit in the sun, sheltered from the wind.
- The lady who massaged my neck and shoulders prior to my cup of tea so I was able to sit comfortably without the nagging headache that had plagued me for a couple of days.
- Everyone responsible for making, selling and transporting the table and chairs at the cafe.
- My beautiful client who i saw this morning who is a total inspiration and always makes my days brighter – with her “nothing will stop me” attitude to life, her determination and her sunny personality, spending time with her always puts me in a good mood.
- My husband and children, who also added to my good mood today. We all managed to get ready for school and work without any stress or yelling,
- The people who planted the trees I was admiring while sipping my tea. The colours in our little city at this time of year are just stunning.
- My bosses, who chose to buy the space for our studio in such a lovely setting. If I didn’t work there, or if our studio was in a different location, I never would have experienced this beautiful moment today.
- My husband for helping us make it work so that I can do a job that I love, a job that rarely feels like “work”.
- The workers at the Mint who made the money I paid with.
- The “gurus” I look to who have been instrumental in me discovering mindfulness, encouraging me to live more in the moment, and living life with more purpose and gratitude.
On and on I went. I stopped when my phone beeped at me to go and teach my next session, but I could have stayed all day. It was such a beautiful experience. I wonder how much more joyful and satisfying life would be if we all practiced this approach more often. It made me really be in the moment, and also I felt a strong connection to something bigger than me. A part of the bigger picture, connected in some small way to people from all different walks of life, all because of this little cup of tea.
Why not give it a go? Pick any situation and apply my Dad’s suggestion. I bet it lifts your spirits the same way it did mine today.
Until next time,
|Image via Pinterest|
The very wise Amy Taylor-Kabbaz from Happy Mama asked a group of busy Mums last week, prior to the Easter long weekend:
“what would happen if you gave yourself four days to just switch off… if you just gave yourself these four days to breathe, rest, just be in the moment?…”
So, this weekend, I gave myself a mini holiday. In the midst of what has been a CRAZY, crazy few months, I took a moment, paused, got my breath back. Reconnected. Enjoyed the sunshine. Reminded myself of the way my babies eyes sparkle when they laugh. Let all the jobs go. I just was.
When you take the time to slow down, it is amazing how many beautiful moments there are, in every day. It is the simple little things that tend to bring the most joy. Like taking our beloved dog of a walk in the late afternoon light. My husband took us on a walk I have never done before, literally out our back door, where we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley we live in.
|Image: Emma Schmid |
It is the moments spent listening to our daughter “read” to me last night as she sat snuggled in a beanbag making up stories from the pictures in books.
It is the smiles in my parents eyes when we surprised them with an unscheduled late one afternoon.
It is the super tight hug from my oldest dearest friend when we caught up for a much needed chat.
It is in appreciating my husband offering to cook the dinner.
It is in the excited chatter of my son as he tells me about his adventures with his Grandma and Poppy.
It is in the wandering through the markets savouring the feast for the senses.
All of these things that I miss when I am in my normal “Mummy mode”, rushing from one thing to the next, always thinking of who has to be where, by when, with what.
How amazing would it be if we could take a part of that with us in every day? What would we notice differently? How different would life be if we focussed on being instead of our to-do lists? It would be filled with different priorities. The real priorities. Spending time with loved ones. Stopping to feel the sunshine on our faces or smell the roses. It would be filled with giggles, snuggles and moments where it all just feels right instead of stressful, cranky, rushed, and mundane. Who lets us decide these “priorities” anyway? Why do we let ourselves get so caught up in the “doing” that we forget about the “being”? When do we allow the “to-do” list to become more important than being present and appreciating the magic that surrounds us already?
It is my promise to myself that in this second school term of the year, I will take more time to “just be”. To allow myself a little of this “holiday” time in each day, to really appreciate what is around me. To be with my children. To listen intently. To love wholly. To be in the moment. I might not get it right all the time, but with consciousness comes a desire to do better.
So beautiful Amy T-K, to answer your question – what would happen if…? What happens is an awakening. A shifting of priorities. A reminder of what is important. A decision to get back to my core desired feelings. To be creative. To have moments of calm. To connect.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Thank you for the beautiful assignment.
Until next time,
These are my words for the year. I thought that since February is almost over, it is a good time to check in with you about how your year is going. What are your words for the year? How are you going with your resolutions/intentions? Anything you need to think about again and reset?
I’m pretty happy with the year so far in terms of my intentions and my core desired feelings. I am choosing to do things that bring me closer to those feelings and I think I am on track for a great year!
I would love to hear how you are going. Comment below!
Until next time,
|Image from Pinterest|
Happy new year!
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year
like I did. I have had a wonderful
couple of weeks balancing my love of teaching Pilates with spending cherished
time with my husband and children. We
managed to pack a lot of fun into the last few weeks around the extra shifts I
did and I am refreshed and ready to go for 2017.
It seems a bit weird talking about New Year now at the end
of January doesn’t it? I guess it feels
a bit more like New Year now for me though, and many others I’m guessing. Over the weekend it was the first New Moon of
the year, Chinese New Year, and the kids all go back to school this week. It signifies an end to summer holidays and
the beginning of getting back into a routine for the year.
Do you set New Years Resolutions each year? I’m not usually one to do it, and if I do it
is something trivial. I am also not
generally one to sit down and right out a list of goals, life plans or anything
like that. However, this year, things
have been a little different. I have
drawn inspiration from a number of sources including Danielle LaPorte’s Goals with Soul
course, Hal Elrod’s Level 10 Life
concept, and Amy Taylor-Kabbaz’s Mission Statement for 2017.
What drew me to each of these (and other
similar ideas) was the focus on how I want to feel in my life. Rather than being a big list of things to do,
the idea is to challenge myself to move closer towards the Core Desired
Feelings in all that I do, and use those feelings as a guide for what I want to
do/achieve. I’ve spent a fair bit of
time thinking about how I want my life to be this year, and this is what I’ve
come up with:
If I had to summarise how I would like my year
to be this year, these words come to mind- Energised, Intentional/on purpose,
nourish, action, intuition, sensual (as in living with all my five senses fully
alive), colourful, action, dream, learn, inspired, finish/complete, challenge,
My Core Desired Feelings are Creative, Calm, Connected, and Divine
Feminine. Creative Calm Connected seem to be working really well for me
since I settled on them last year. But I
felt there was something else missing. I
feel like I’m at the beginning of a new cycle in life, and it turns out that some
people believe that 2017 is the beginning of a new nine year cycle. The past cycle for me was pretty much about
us having our family, and now that our little family is complete, I feel ready
to take on new challenges, to focus on new things (including of course spending
time with and raising our beautiful kids) and broadening my role. Now that I am a Mum I have felt the need to
slow down a little, become more childlike in some ways in that I want to be
more present in each and every moment.
And I also want to connect better with the softer, feminine side of who
I am. At the moment I am drawn to be
home, focussed on the children, spending time with those I am closely connected
with emotionally, and embracing my creative side. I’m less about the deadlines and career
ladder climbing, and more about nurturing.
Embracing the divine feminine for me is about allowing myself to be
softer, listening to my intuition, being creative, feeling beautiful, slowing
down, feeling joy and love.
I don’t want to feel just content with
life. I want to be energised and
thrilled by it. I want to wake up each
day and jump out of bed with excitement for what the day will bring.
I want to live more with intention. Making sure that I am making the most of
every minute, deciding how I will spend my time based on what my family and I
I want to tap into my intuition and allow it to
guide me and influence decisions more than just being logical and ruled by my
head. Getting more of a balance between
head and heart I suppose.
I have also decided that this is going to be the
year of the “challenge”. I seem to be
better able to manage habit change when there is a reason for the change, e.g. a
30 day challenge. So, this year I am
going to have a go at a few and see if I can kick start some good change. The first one is the 30 Days Of You Challenge
that I started last Thursday, which is focusing on the mind, body and spirit
and getting us focused and prepared for the year ahead. I will write about
other challenges as they come up, but some ideas I’ve come across and am
interested in are
o The Modern Mrs Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge
– there are actually two challenges to choose from – one if you want to be reading
for fun, and one for reading for growth, or you could do both. I plan to do both over the course of the
year. The idea is you pick books based
on a number of categories within the challenge.
This idea is appealing to me because I have felt stuck in a bit of a
reading rut lately, always picking the same type of books. Hopefully this challenge will inspire some
diversity in my reading.
Hal Elrod’s 30 Day Miracle Morning Challenge
on the principles outlined in The Miracle
the 30 day challenge could be a great way for me to kick start some
positive morning routines.
An alcohol free month – eg dry July/Octsober
I have been inspired by a couple of quotes
lately from podcasts lately and I thought they could almost be like little
motto’s or mantras for me this year:
The first one was Danielle LaPorte in a podcast
I listened featuring her and she was discussing the importance of saying no to
others so that you have room to say yes to yourself and what you
want/need. She said to listen to your
instincts when someone asks you to go somewhere/do something. “If it’s not a HELL YES¸ then it’s a no.”
The other one is from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, HappJhHappier HApppHHHHhhhhahahHHapppier Happier, where she said a recent
philosophy of hers is “if you cant get
out of it, get into it”. The idea being, if there is something that you have to do, but are not really wanting to, it will probably be better for you and all involved if you just let go and decide to really make the most of it. I like this idea. A change in your attitude to something is sometimes all you need to make it much more enjoyable.
I would love to hear from you about your
resolutions/goals/plans for the year. Did you make any new years resolutions? How are you going with them so far? Do
you have any ideas for other challenges I should undertake? Would you like to do any of the challenges
with me? I would love to hear your
thoughts so make sure you comment below.
Until next time,