Last year I experienced a major turning point in my life when my coach asked if I was up for a mindfulness experiment. She asked when I felt most at peace, when I felt “in the zone,” able to temporarily rise above the clutter in my head. I told her the only times I could think of were when I was surrounded by beauty in nature, and when I was hanging out with my canine companion, Roo. My coach then challenged me to spend just five minutes every day focusing on one of these activities – to simply set the timer on my phone and play with Roo, or sit outside in my backyard to watch the water or gaze at the stars.
I had always assumed that my mind was too overactive to meditate—I couldn’t ever seem to slow down, even during inherently relaxing activities like getting a massage or lying on the beach. Within a few days this exercise completely changed my perception of meditation, and gave me my first taste of how mindfulness could enhance my life every single day. I continued these practices, and began to explore other forms such as walking meditation, loving kindness meditation, chakra-specific meditations, cord-cutting meditations and more. I have no doubt that this assignment and the work that followed are the main reasons I can now say I experience moments of pure joy every single day.
You may have heard this before, but if I can meditate, I KNOW you can too. I’m so far from the perfect practitioner—first of all, I don’t meditate every day. I’d love to get there eventually, but I can promise you that even if you can’t commit to doing it every day, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by just. Starting. Now. I also know that the “ideal” meditation posture is seated upright, but I prefer to practice lying down on my back (so rebellious, I know). And I still find it incredibly helpful to listen to guided meditations and visualizations, rather than always sitting in silence (click here for some of my favorite FREE resources).
Finally, I’ll let you in on a very poorly-kept secret, at least in the meditation world—sometimes it “doesn’t work.” And that’s more than OK. On many occasions I’ve been lying in bed feeling super zen, practically enlightened, when, cut to an hour later, I’m wide awake trying to remember obscure details of the first season of Homeland. But the amazing thing is, in the past this would have seriously pissed me off and I would have spiraled into anxiety about the amount of sleep I was going to get, and how that might affect my day tomorrow, and…and…But nowadays, I’m able to take a beat, give myself a break, relax, and know that it’s all going to be OK. And THAT is the real proof that it DOES work. Like some many things in life, it’s just not always how you want or expect it to.
This article originally appeared on tessmrafferty.com