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I remember very specifically telling my friend, “oh no, I can’t meditate, I feel like I’m suffocating when I try”.

That seems silly to me now, but it was true.  I would sit down to meditate, and focus on my breath, and I would feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I just couldn’t do it!

These days, it’s a little easier, but it only got to be that way with practice. And, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even sure how meditation would help me when I first started. I did it because I was told that it does help.

It makes sense… quieting your mind does absolutely help. Since I started, I do feel calmer, and more in control of my time, actions and thoughts.  I never thought that would be a thing, but truly…. it has helped in small ways.

The best part of it, for me… was that I would sit in my room, turn on a very calming video from you tube, something with soft music, birds chirping, wind, maybe water. I would set my phone timer and silent notifications…. I sit, or lay on my back and I just breathe.

I would breathe deep in, focusing on the oxygen getting to my whole body, it filling my lungs all the way.  I noticed that a lot of my breathing was shallow, so I felt good about filling my lungs each time when I meditated.

Obviously, your mind wanders, but I understand now that that is ok, it’s expected… and you simply move your mind to a quieter place… sometimes taking note of something you need to do later.

Typically, I go to my happy place.  I stand on a grassy bank, underneath tall trees, looking out to a large lake, with green, tree lined mountains on all sides. The wind blows, the water ripples, the birds chirp (this is a lot easier if my background music includes the chirping. I can’t always rely on imagination).  I try to breath in the fresh mountain air and imagine the wind on my face, as I stand there, touching a pine tree with my right hand, basking in the peaceful scene.

After 15 minutes or so, my alarm goes off, quietly. I know that I can relax because I’m only committing a short period to this and I don’t have to worry about going too long.

The alarm really helps!

Here’s the biggest difference that I’ve discovered, since I started meditating….

For so long, I would naturally wake up too early. My brain would start swirling with all of the tasks and work related things that I would HAVE to get done… and I couldn’t go back to sleep.

My days were long and slow because I was sleep deprived. I always felt like I was in a constant pull…. Not that I didn’t enjoy my work, but there were days when I just felt out of control of it, and it was frustrating.

The last month or so, work was a little slower, coming out of the holidays, it usually is.  But it’s picked back up and I started waking up too early, thoughts of work swirling around. And that’s when I stopped and said…. I don’t think so… I’ll meditate right here and now.

I laid in bed, took a deep breath and focused on the air the whole way in, and the whole way out. I pictured my lake and just kept breathing.

I was back to sleep in no time.

I have had to do that several times… but it works, every time… I get a full nights sleep and feel rested for my day. Also, I have noticed that being able to quiet the work and give myself the respect of a little more sleep…. I notice that I don’t feel the overwhelm or frustration.  I KNOW that work will be there when I wake up and I’ll have plenty of time to do it all… but having that feeling of self respect has changed a lot.

I used to feel like I was suffocating when I tried to focus on breath. I used to feel stressed out about taking a few minutes to quiet my mind.  I used to feel like this was the worst use of my time.

These days, meditating is a non negotiable… It isn’t a short term fix to anything… but long term, I can see now that it’s helped me calm my mind, deal with stress, sleep better and feel more in control of my mind and my day.  I LOVE my meditation time… it’s MY time.

Go, set your timer… turn on a good background noise and silence your phone. Start with 5 minutes if you don’t think you have time for 10 or 15. It’s really not long, but it makes such a difference.  You deserve 5 minutes of fresh air, feeding your blood, circulating your body. Oxygenating your body does you so much good… Even if you only do it for a few minutes.

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