I've been reflecting on the power mindfulness and meditation have had on my life lately because I am getting ready to co-lead a mindfulness program in Sebastopol this Fall. (There's a free orientation tomorrow night, Tuesday, Sept. 5th if you'd like to join me, more details below.)
As we collectively and personally move through hardships and challenges in this great time of awakening, I thought it would be relevant to share a few of the ways mindfulness has helped me through hard times:
For those of you who finished reading my book, you learned about two powerful experiences of heartbreak that I've experienced in my life, and how I learned to respond to that pain completely differently from the beginning to the end of the book as I deepened my practices of yoga and meditation in India.
When I reflect back on some of those more challenging moments in my life, particularly when my heart was hurting, I realize:
Meditation and mindfulness showed me how to witness my pain as pure sensation, and through that space of pure witnessing presence, my heart began to heal.
I began to create more spaciousness for myself, I learned to surrender to my emotions and accept my emotions, without a need to fix or change them. It is in that space that I opened to love, compassion and forgiveness, and my heart opened to heal.
2. Physical pain
Meditation and mindfulness helped me to relate to my pain in a completely new way. Not just emotional pain, but also physical. I've gone through periods of my life experiencing chronic pain on a daily basis: muscle aches, headaches, and jaw tension. For so long I tried to push it away and distract myself (going to sugar, alcohol, caffeine, anything to take me away from my body and out of the present moment) but I soon realized that only made the problem worse.
It was only through really being with myself in the pain, opening to it, and breathing through it, did it begin to transform. But in releasing my need to change the outcome, I had a powerful tool of being able to love myself in those moments even when it didn't go away.
arlier this year my grandmother passed away. I sat with her in her final days in meditation. If you've ever been with someone as they are passing, you know that it invites you to be in a state of total presence. I sat in full presence with her. I held her hand, I meditated, and I sang. In the days and months after she passed, I knew how to feel my grief and let it move through me.
Now when I reflect back on my grandmother and all we shared, I no longer feel the weight of grief because I allowed myself to fully feel it. Now when I think of her I feel a profound joy and gratitude in my heart.
4. A car accident
Two years ago I was in a car accident where my car was totaled. It was actually amazing to see what happened in the moment after impact when my airbag opened. I began practicing Vipassana meditation without even thinking. My awareness immediately began feeling my breath and my sensations from the top of my head down to the tips of my toes. I was fully grounded in the present moment.
Instead of freaking out, I was able to act in the moment from a grounded state. I moved my car off the road, I called for help... I assessed if I had any injuries and I checked in with the person in the other car involved. Within minutes help arrived, and everyone was ok, but reflecting back I see I was able to move through such a hardship with grace because of my years of practice with meditation.
Beyond moving through challenging times, mindfulness has brought a wealth of positivity to my life:
1. Self-Worth - a sense of having enough, and being enough
I've learned to focus more on what I have, and who I am through a lens of wholeness rather than lack or scarcity. It has helped me come back to gratitude and an innate sense of worthiness.
2. My Relationship - more ease, love, and appreciation
Now when a difficult conversation or situation arises with my partner, I can almost see the situation from the outside. Rather than being so attached to my pain or fear, I can take a step back, breathe and move forward with love.
3. Priorities - The ability to get crystal clear on what's really important to me
In being able to take a step back from life, I am no longer getting caught in the same habitual patterns or routines. I'm able to make choices from a broader perspective and take steps forward with intention based on what is truly most important to me.
4. Productivity - making a positive impact in my business and with my clients
Meditation has sharpened my mind and brought focus to my work. It's helped me to be fully present and compassionate with my clients and podcast guests. It's helped me tap into my intuition in a way that has been able to guide my business towards success.
But the truth is, these results do not happen overnight, and it's not always easy to keep up a meditation practice. I have had to put in the time and attention to come to the place I am in today.
The way I have been able to keep up my practice, is through community. That is why I am so excited about the community forming for the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program this Fall.
Would you like to bring more mindfulness into your life?
Join me Tuesday, September 5th, for the free orientation of MBSR at The dhyana Center in Sebastopol, co-led with Spencer Sherman of Abacus Wealth Partners.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) ~ an 8-week program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn of Spirit Rock, guided by Spencer Sherman and yoga guided by me
Location: The dhyana Center, 186 N. Main Street, Sebastopol (upstairs)
Course Dates: Tuesday nights, 6:30 - 9 pm, Sept. 19 - Nov. 14th (no class 10/31, full-day class on Sunday, 11/5)
Free Orientation: Tuesday, September 5th, 6:30 - 9 pm ~ learn more about the program curriculum and practices, meet the teachers and fellow students and see if the program will be a good fit for you.
P.S. if you aren't able to be with us in person, you may like to check out my guided meditations on the insight timer app ~ simply download and search for "Meredith Rom" in guided meditations