Have you ever tried to meditate and felt like you sucked at it or felt like it wasn’t helpful? Yeah, you’re not alone! Meditation is often a big recommendation when it comes to finding some relief from anxious thoughts, feelings, and stress, but how do you do it? And how do you do it and enjoy it? How do you do it and actually experience the benefits of practicing it? How do you become good at it? Trust me, I’ve had all of these questions myself!
In this episode, I sat down with Emily Kessler, a meditation teacher, marketing director, live event producer, and talent manager. And the work she does is so stinking cool! She simplifies meditation and helps people to actually enjoy meditation. Emily believes that the more we can look inwards for fulfillment, joy & a sense of purpose, the more we will find all three. She also believes that meditation doesn’t have to be scary, complicated, difficult or spiritual. And everyone has the ability to establish a simple, daily practice that is hugely beneficial!
In this episode, we dive into:
What meditation is
The benefits of meditation
Why people land on the idea that meditation doesn’t work
What “sitting with it” and being okay with the thoughts and feelings means
How meditation is a foundation that allows you to experience less stress and anxiety
How to become a meditator
Emily walks us through a 5 minute meditation for anxiety
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Emily shares that meditation gets a bad rep because people often think that meditation means clearing our mind, being completely still, and having no thoughts, and feeling totally calm, and this is just not a reality! Meditation is actually spending time with ourselves, noticing what’s happening in our mind and in our body, and being okay with it.
And there are so many different styles of meditation. Emily believes that there’s a style of meditation for everyone. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to sit down with your eyes closed, there are walking meditations and cooking meditations. If you’re someone who prefers complete quiet and stillness, there are Buddhist meditations and silent meditations. If you want to practice certain breathing skills, there’s tons of breathwork you can do. One of the best things about meditation is that you have options, and you can find one that you actually enjoy and one that works for you.
Meditation is truly about training your mind and body to be more present.
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF MEDITATION?
Helps to combat the effects of stress
Releases more dopamine and serotonin instead of cortisol
Helps the digestive, reproductive, and immune systems to strengthen and work better
Helps you to feel calmer and more present
Helps you to be more adaptable to change, have more patience, your memory strengthens, and you’re able to focus more
Helps to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and addiction
Emily says, “Instead of… What does meditation do? It’s almost like… What doesn’t meditation do?”
WHY PEOPLE LAND ON THE IDEA THAT MEDITATION DOESN’T WORK
Emily explains that human beings think up to 90,000 thoughts per day, so to think that if we’re doing meditation “right,” we just sit down and the mind goes blank and we float away on some zen lily pad, this just isn’t realistic. The first thing is to really change our expectations around what the meditation experience could, should, and can look and feel like. Because so much of the time, sitting in meditation is about unstressing the body. And one of the ways that the body and mind releases stress is by feeling agitated and thinking a lot of thoughts.
Reasons why people jump to the conclusion that meditation doesn’t work:
Your expectations of meditation, how it works, and what it looks like is unrealistic.
Because you have lots of thoughts and feelings while meditating.
Because sitting with your thoughts and feelings feels so uncomfortable because we’re so used to many distractions.
If you’ve tried to meditate and you’ve had tons of thoughts and you’ve felt restless, or anxious, or agitated, or uncomfortable, you’re doing it perfectly. These are all normal experiences to have. Our only job in meditation is to notice the thoughts and feelings and return to the meditation through a gentle process.
WHAT DOES SITTING WITH IT AND BEING OKAY WITH IT MEAN?
Emily says, “You have to feel it to heal it!”
Sitting with your thoughts and feelings looks like:
Noticing and welcoming without fighting.
Practicing feeling a challenging emotion and noticing that we don’t get derailed by it and we are okay.
She explains that when we notice emotions that feel challenging (like anxiety) creeping up, our first instinct is to stuff them down. And what happens is, the more we stuff them down, the more they fight their way up. This is because emotions want to be felt. That is their job. And our job is to feel them. When we’re able to allow the emotions in, almost welcome them and let them know it’s okay to be there and that it will pass, enables us to really feel it and allow it to pass.
HOW TO BECOME A MEDITATOR
First off, be proud of yourself for trying!
Accept that it’s a practice and it’s going to be challenging.
Let yourself be a beginner.
Practice! Whether it’s 5 minutes a day or 2 minutes a day.
Don’t put expectations on yourself of what you think it should feel like, or what you want it to feel like, and just be accepting of whatever your experience is.
Date around and find a style of meditation that you connect with!
Date around and find a teacher that you connect with!
“The feeling of the actual experience isn’t what gives you the benefit, it’s the practice.”
EMILY WALKS US THROUGH A 5 MINUTE BREATHING MEDITATION
Tune into the episode to do this awesome exercise guided by Emily!
HOW TO CONNECT WITH EMILY:
Learn to meditate with Emily, check out her course, & all the things: Head here!
On Instagram: @emilyjkess