When Meditation Feels Corny
Confession time: Even though I am a therapist that believes in and uses mindfulness and meditation in my work, I have to admit that there is a small part of me that internally rolls its eyes at anything resembling new-age / woo-woo / kum-ba-yah. I think this part of me associates meditation to a stereotypical image of a blissed out woman with a flower crown in lotus pose, ommmmm-ing away....(Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's just SO not how I see myself).
But here's the rub (at least for me): There are other parts of me that, when I do get quiet and turn inward, RELISH in the dropping-in, slowing-down, and breathing-deep of it all. The experience, without trying to be overly dramatic, is like a person dying of thirst finally getting a sip of water. There is such relief and ease that comes.
This Reaction is Common
Being uncomfortable with meditating or focusing inside is super common for a lot of my clients...Many of us spend a lot of our lives focusing on anything other than our internal experience (literally ANYTHING other than that!) and for good reason! Many of us feel nervous about what we may find (or feel) if we stop moving a million miles a minute.
So when I propose it in sessions, there is often a self-consciousness about it or a "I don't know what I'm supposed to do" or a concern that they will do it wrong somehow. But, then, once they agree to try it and actually do turn inward,
1) they find that it's actually not that hard or complicated,
2) it's not so scary and, especially when guided, can actually create more spaciousness inside, and
3) the great majority express feeling gratitude and a realization that they would like more of this quiet and ease in their life.
Maybe Meditation is Worth a Try?
My suggestion is to give it a try. There's really nothing to lose with trying*, but so much potentially to gain! There are many free guided meditations accessible these days via YouTube, the App Store, and other online sources. I have also recently recorded a Guided Meditation that you can listen to and download for free, which can give you a sense of how I approach meditation and how it serves as a foundation for the work I do of cultivating internal compassion in my One-on-One therapy.
How I have found it to help: Our minds are so busy these days. We are bombarded with external stimulus as well as our own internal chatter. Our minds have to process all this input in split seconds. How can we possibly make sense of it all? With meditation, there is an intentional slowing down. There is an intentional focus on one thing at a time and sometimes that thing is just noticing (with as much non-judgment as you can muster) that your mind is racing.
Importantly, mindfulness and meditation are not the destinations themselves - they are the journey. There is nothing to achieve. There is just noticing. We get to pause and consider. We get to reflect. We get to try to contemplate or understand why our mind or our body might be doing this thing it's doing right now. And we get to breathe. We get to experience what it's like to have our primary focus be this moment or this feeling or this sensation right now. Just this seemingly simple act can create spaciousness inside.
For what it's worth, I do still try to make my meditations in sessions as accessible and corn-free as possible (though I can't guarantee 100% corn-free - sometimes you do just have to embrace it!).
Don't Take My Word For It...Trust the Research!
Meditation and Mindfulness truly are the new frontiers of neuro-science and psychology. Research shows that meditation re-wires negative thought patterns, decreases stress levels, and improves one’s ability to feel compassion and empathy - all while increasing feelings of happiness.
Here are some links that you might find helpful:
- From Mindful.org: "The Science of Mindfulness"
- Wikipedia's page: "Research on Meditation"
- Popular Meditation App HeadSpace's page: Benefits of Meditation (with citations):
- From the American Psychological Association: What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness?
INTERESTED TO KNOW MORE? Give my Free Guided Meditation a try, subscribe to my newsletter to receive future blog posts, insights, and self-help tips straight to your inbox or contact me so we can talk more.
© Ellie Vargas, LCSW
* My only caveat to there being nothing to lose when trying meditation or mindfulness is for people with a serious history of trauma. Listen to your wise self. If it feels really really scary, then maybe you only 'give it a try' with a therapist who can help you navigate it in a way that feels safe.
Ellie Vargas, LCSW is a wife and a mama of two girls, a trekker on the bumpy trail of personal growth, and a Trauma-Informed Psychotherapist. In that order.